Four men, each of which worked for BNSF Railway Co. for more than three decades, have filed a joint federal lawsuit against their former employer in Madison County. Each plaintiff is seeking $2.5 million in damages in the lawsuit, for a total amount of $10 million.
The plaintiffs claim that their regular, day-to-day duties for BNSF involved exposure to asbestos and other toxic substances, dusts, gases and fumes. As a result, the lawsuit states, they have each suffered permanent injury to their lungs, resulting in respiratory diseases such as asbestosis.
That injury could have been avoided, the lawsuit states, if BNSF had not failed to provide its employees with a safe place to work and to warn the plaintiffs of the potential danger of exposure to asbestos and other substances. In addition, the suit accused BNSF of failing to take reasonable effort to minimize its employees’ exposure to those dangerous substances.
Therefore, the suit claims, BNSF is responsible for the plaintiffs’ injuries and illnesses.
The plaintiffs claim that they have each “suffered and will continue to suffer great pain and disability” as well as “genuine and serious mental anguish and extreme nervousness as a result of [the] reasonable concern over the prospects of developing cancer” caused by exposure to asbestos and other dangerous substances.
The lawsuit was filed under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act, or FELA. The plaintiffs say that this act governs their claims because they were harmed while performing the duties of their employment. Because those duties were “in furtherance of and did closely, directly and substantially affect interstate commerce,” the plaintiffs say, FELA should govern their lawsuit.
Source: Madison Record, “Former railroad workers seek $10M in FELA suit against BNSF; Plaintiffs allege asbestos exposure caused respiratory problems,” Bethany Krajelis, Nov. 20, 2012