Mesothelioma and Other Railroad Cancers Can Affect Virtually Any Rail Employee

The risks associated with mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure while working for railroads have been in the spotlight for at least a decade as the numerous former rail employees have developed the disease and other cancers after spending their adult lives rail yards and on trains breathing in toxic asbestos fibers. Many retired railrad workers have not discovered that they have mesothelioma -- a horrfic cancer caused almost exclusively by asbestos -- until 20 or 30 years after they were exposed. This means the number of workers afflicted with the lung disease continues to grow. This is also true for other forms of railroad-related cancers.

Lung cancers, mesotheliomas, and other forms of cancers associated with previous asbestos exposure on railroads continue to be a source of personal injury FELA litigation. Most of the railroads are now requiring confidential settlements with regard to active or retired railroad workers who contract mesothelioma or lung cancer suspected to be caused by asbestos exposure while they worked for the railroad.

This certainly doesn’t stop us from discussing the fact that most railroad diesel engines had hot water pipes that ran under the EMD or GE engines that were wrapped with asbestos containing insulation, that there were a number of other engine parts that included asbestos, and that the vibration of these trains along the railroad tracks would circulate invisible levels of asbestos throughout the crew cabs, a very enclosed space that would allow these fibers to circulate.

Our firm has successfully settled cancer cases for both conductors or engineers who worked in diesel engines for decades unaware that the asbestos insulating materials were all around them and that the gaps and openings in these engines allowed asbestos fibers-each one invisible -to be in the breathing air inside the crew cab.

Railroads played a game with workers during the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s that there was no asbestos in diesel engines but in fact this has been a complete fiction. Nearly all the nation’s railroads eventually hired contractors to remove asbestos from diesel engines, it was only a matter of when the asbestos got removed not if it got removed.

While the railroads will not allow us to disclose settlements, or any particularsof settlements, our firm continues to represent conductors, engineers, carmen, and any craft of railroad worker that was exposed to asbestos for long periods of time leading to cancers or mesotheliomas.

We settled a lung cancer case as recently as January 2018 for a conductor exposed to asbestos on diesel engines that manifested itself in a lung cancer about 20 years after he retired.

For additional info about mesothelioma and other railroad-related lung cancers, check out these articles:

Many railroad companies try to downplay the risks associated with asbestos exposure. This is not surprising since the companies do not want to spend the money necessary to make their rail yards and locomotives safe for workers. Spending more money on proper safety means making fewer profits. This view is not exclusive to one railroad. Many rail companies were fully aware of the risks associated with asbestos exposure as early as the 1930s but did next to nothing to prevent their workers from getting exposed and potentially contracting a deadly form of cancer.

Mesothelioma does not discriminate based on the type of railroad work a person has done. Victims were not just track laborers. In fact, many of our Virginia-based FELA law firm's mesothelioma clients have been have been conductors and engineers. An incomplete list of rail employees at risk for asbestos exposure includes

  • Brakemen
  • Conductors
  • Equipment operators
  • Engineers
  • Ironworkers
  • Locomotive machinists
  • Mechanics
  • Switchmen

Keep in mind that if you or a loved one has been stricken with mesothelioma and want to pursue damages against a railroad company, be prepared for a fight. Our attorneys have handled numerous mesothelioma cancer cases, and the railroads routinely employ tactics that are meant to delay and drag out legitimate claims. For example, we represented two fomer employees of a Class I railroad who had worked as conductors and switchmen for more than 20 years. Both were diagnosed with mesothelioma, and both, sadly, passed away before their cases were finally resolved. Fortunately, we were able to secure sizable settlements so their surviving family members were taken care of.

If you would like more information about the risks associated with asbestos exposure and how mesothelioma is a completely preventable form of cancer, take a look at this article written by an experienced attorney for injured railroad workers.

Richard N. Shapiro
Personal Injury & Wrongful Death Lawyer Serving Va Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake & all of Virginia