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Union Pacific wants jury in carcinogen/asbestos lung cancer suit

When people develop asbestos-related diseases, they typically endure debilitating symptoms, dreadful physical pain and disability. When their diagnosis is mesothelioma or asbestos-lung cancer, they often suffer from mental anguish, as well, because although their diseases are usually due to the negligence or misconduct of a formerly trusted employer, and their treatment options can be very limited.

It’s unusual, therefore, for companies accused of negligently exposing their employees or consumers to asbestos or other toxic substances to demand jury trials. The plaintiffs are usually very sympathetic victims, and they fear that jurors might let their emotions decide whether they’ve made a full defense through reams of documents and statistical evidence.

In a recent case filed in Madison County, however, the Union Pacific Railroad Company intends to put its case before a jury. A man who worked in Union Pacific’s clerical department between 1959 and 1968 has developed lung cancer, and he believes that the company negligently exposed him to asbestos, diesel exhaust, second-hand cigarette smoke, and potentially other hazardous or carcinogenic materials throughout his career.

He filed suit against the railroad company in July, arguing that it failed to provide him with a reasonably safe working environment or equipment, exposed him to toxic substances even after their dangers were known, and failed to warn him that those substances were dangerous. Ultimately, he claims that Union Pacific was negligent in letting working conditions it knew to be unsafe to continue as if nothing was wrong.

The man’s lung cancer has left him in great pain, mental suffering, extreme nervousness and disability, according to his lawsuit.

Just this week, Union Pacific demanded a jury trial on all factual issues in the case. Whether they genuinely believe they are not responsible for the former employee’s lung cancer or merely seek to delay is impossible to say.

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