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Former railroad employee files suit alleging fear of mesothelioma

A former employee of the Illinois Central Railroad Company has filed a personal injury lawsuit against his former employee, alleging that he was repeatedly exposed to asbestos during his nearly 40-year career. However, unlike similar lawsuits that have been filed by railroad workers, the plaintiff is not claiming that his exposure to asbestos resulted in a mesothelioma diagnosis. Instead, the plaintiff is claiming that he lives in constant debilitating fear that he will be diagnosed with the disease, and is asking for damages based on that mental anguish.

The plaintiff was employed by the Illinois Central Railroad from 1953 to 1991, during which time he worked as an engineer, fireman, and hostler. He alleges that he was exposed to asbestos dust and fibers throughout his career, which caused him to be diagnosed with a non-cancerous disease connected to asbestos exposure. He did not specify the name of the disease in his court filings.

Although that disease did not turn out to be fatal, the plaintiff claims that he incurred medical costs and suffered the loss of his earnings and earning capacity. In addition, he claims, he now suffers from mental anguish and extreme nervousness due to his fear that his disease will develop into mesothelioma or another form of asbestos lung cancer.

The plaintiff is alleging that the railroad failed to provide him with a safe place to work and safe tools and equipment, and that it failed to warn him of the hazardous nature of the products with which he worked, among several allegations. It will be interesting to see the outcome of this case.

Source: The Madison Record, "Fear of mesothelioma prompts suit against Illinois Central Railroad," Kelly Holleran, Oct. 27, 2011

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