Doran & Murphy Trial News: Retired Conrail Signal Worker’s Lung Cancer Attributed to Railroad Exposures - $4.5 Million Gross Verdict Awarded by Ohio Jury. The Plaintiff, a 64-year-old Ohio resident, worked in the railroad signal maintenance department for nearly 40 years. During this time, he alleged that he was routinely exposed to asbestos, silica dust and diesel exhaust through his work repairing and maintaining railroad signals and relays inside signal cases located alongside Defendant’s tracks. This job required him to drill holes in asbestos-containing boards located inside signal cases and run wires through those holes to connect to the signal relays he maintained. The Plaintiff alleged that while doing this job, without respiratory protection, he was exposed to asbestos dust on a regular basis. Additionally, his job put him in close proximity to diesel-powered railroad track equipment, including ballast regulators and sweepers, which stirred up silica-containing ballast dust. The Plaintiff and his coworker testified that they often worked in clouds of silica dust and diesel exhaust. No breathing protection was provided by the Defendant, nor was any training given that these exposures could be hazardous to the workers.
The Plaintiff, also a long time smoker, retired from the railroad in 2013. He was diagnosed with lung cancer in April of 2015 and filed suit under the FELA shortly thereafter. Two years of interlocutory appeal followed due to Ohio’s asbestos statute. After Doran & Murphy was successful in the appeal, trial proceeded on April 24, 2018. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the Plaintiff, awarding him: $2,038,488.40 for medical expenses to date, $970,000.00 for future medical expenses, $1,000,000.00 for pain and suffering to date, and $500,000 for future pain and suffering; resulting in a total verdict of $4,508,488.40. The jury also found the Plaintiff 40% contributorily negligent for his prior history of smoking cigarettes. Post-trial motions and/or appeals are expected.
This case demonstrated the benefits of having a treating doctor, in addition to causation experts, opine as to the occupational causation of the railroad worker's cancer.