$4.5 million gross verdict in favor of signal worker diagnosed with lung cancer
The plaintiff was a signal worker for Conrail and its predecessors for nearly 40 years and was diagnosed with lung cancer shortly after his retirement. Throughout his career, he was routinely exposed to asbestos, silica dust, and diesel exhaust through his work repairing and maintaining railroad signals and relays located alongside the tracks. This job required him to drill holes in asbestos-containing transite signal boards located inside the signal cases which exposed him to significant asbestos dust on a regular basis. His job also often put him near diesel-powered railroad track equipment, including ballast regulators and sweepers, which often stirred up silica-containing ballast dust.
Although the plaintiff was a two-pack-a-day smoker for over forty years, the attorneys at Doran & Murphy successfully argued that the railroad violated the Federal Employers Liability Act by exposing him to these dangerous substances without proper breathing protection or warnings.
The jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff and concluded that both the railroad workplace exposures and cigarette smoking contributed to his cancer. The jury awarded the rail worker a total verdict of $4,508,488.40, but found that he was 40% contributorily negligent for his prior history of smoking cigarettes, reducing the award to $2,705,093.04.