$19,170,000 gross verdict in favor of a carman who died of pulmonary fibrosis
The worker was employed as a carman for Central Railroad of New Jersey, Consolidated Rail Corporation (Conrail), and New Jersey Transit from 1974 until 2001. He was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis and died two years later.
After his death, his wife sued the railroads under the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA), claiming that on-the-job exposure to contaminants such as welding fumes, metal dust, silica from the sand hoppers on trains, sawdust from sandblasting, and asbestos from brake shoes and gaskets caused his illness. She further claimed that the defendants failed to provide a safe work environment for their employees by not providing adequate respiratory protection.
The defense argued that it did provide adequate protection for its employees and that the railroad worker had idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis that could have been caused by his cigarette smoking or by wood dust he could have been exposed to when he was a carpenter before becoming a railroad worker. Conrail settled out of the case prior to trial for $500,000.
The jury awarded the plaintiffs $19.17 million but found that the worker was 7% at fault and settled party Conrail 35% at fault. The net recovery was $11.43 million.