Conrail Loses Asbestos Case Against Ex-Railroad Worker

Asbestos & the Railroad Industry

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) banned the use of asbestos and asbestos- products in the late 20th century to abide by the EPA’s Clean Air Act and the Asbestos Ban and Phase Out Rule. What many American’s don’t realize is that is the railroad industry continued to order parts and equipment that contained asbestos long into the 21st century.

In the past, asbestos was used to manufacture trains and locomotives because it was durable, fireproof, and – most importantly – cheap. In 1973, the government was forced to ban asbestos products after the scientific community discovered the carcinogenic link between asbestos and mesothelioma. However, unlike other industries, the railroad companies didn’t tell their employees about the health risks and allowed them to continue working with dangerous materials.

Asbestos can be found in the following train and track parts:

  • Railroad ties
  • Gaskets
  • Wallboards
  • Ceiling cement
  • Insulators
  • Clutches
  • Brake pads
  • Brake linings
  • Passenger car floor tiles

The Lawsuit

Asbestos exposure can result in a variety of health complications, including mesothelioma and lung cancer. Of course, this also means that a frequent cigarette smoker has a higher chance of being diagnosed with these diseases than a non-smoker.

Despite strong scientific evidence supporting this correlation, Consolidated Rail Corporation (Conrail) recently argued that its negligent practices involving asbestos had nothing to do with an employee’s lung cancer diagnosis. The plaintiff, Kevin Howell, is a long-time smoker who worked for Conrail as a signal maintainer for over 35 years. During his years of employment, he repaired and maintained signals and signal boxes that were constructed with asbestos. Because Howell’s duties involved drilling holes into these boxes, he unknowingly breathed in deadly asbestos fibers on a near-daily basis. The company never warned Howell about the risks and didn’t provide him with any safety gear or equipment that could have mitigated the damage. Howell filed a lawsuit against Conrail in accordance with the Federal Employers Liability Act, and a jury awarded him $4.5 million in damages. This amount was later amended to $2.3 million because the jury found Howell, a lifelong smoker, 40% responsible for his illness. Conrail tried to appeal based on this factor, but the appeals court ruled that frequent asbestos exposure contributed to Howell’s condition.

Have You Developed Cancer After Working for a Railroad Company?

Contact Shrader & Associates, L.L.P if you or a loved one has developed an asbestos-related condition after working in the railroad industry. Our nationally recognized asbestos exposure lawyers can investigate your case, research the company’s history of using asbestos products, and help you hold any negligent parties responsible for your condition.

Contact Shrader & Associates, L.L.P. at (844) 256-8685 to schedule a consultation today.

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