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Railroad Workers

Many railroad workers are at elevated risk for acute myeloid leukemia (AML), myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), multiple myeloma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma as a result of their workplace exposures to benzene.  Benzene can be found in diesel fuel and exhaust.  Virtually all crafts of railroad workers experience diesel exhaust exposures.

Benzene was also prevalent in railroad shops where car department workers and locomotive machinists, electricians and pipefitters used benzene-containing products like Liquid Wrench as a bolt breaking solvent.  These railroad shop employees would inhale benzene containing vapors from solvent baths which were present in many shops.  Safety-Kleen parts washers were commonly used by many railroads.  CRC Brakleen contained benzene as did certain paints, thinners and adhesives used by carmen, machinists and locomotive pipefitters.

Diesel-powered locomotives, forklifts and cranes were left running inside railroad shops. This exposed the railroad workers to excessive amounts of diesel exhaust.  Workers would dunk rags in benzene-containing solvents and use those rags to clean parts and tools.  They were never informed that these exposures can lead to leukemia. Many workers actually washed the grime off their hands with benzene-containing fuels or solvents.

How Lawsuits Work

Railroad workers can file lawsuits against their employer under the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA).  Under the FELA, the worker need only establish that the negligence of the railroad played a part, even in the slightest, in contributing to their AML or MDS.  This is a very favorable law for all railroad employees.  Railroad workers who actually worked with benzene-containing products like Safety-Kleen, CRC, or Liquid Wrench can also file lawsuits against the manufacturers of those products.

Railroad Workers & Benzene – Verdicts & Settlements

$300,000 settlement (Virginia, 2019)

The Plaintiff, a former machinist, was employed by Norfolk Southern Railway for 31 years before being diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia at the age of 70. During his time with the railroad, he endured chronic exposures to petroleum solvents which he used on a daily basis in the locomotive shop. The Plaintiff produced Norfolk Southern records of meetings between railroad officials in which the use of benzene and the knowledge of its hazardous nature were discussed as early as the 1960s. 

$7,500,000 verdict (Illinois, 2016)

The 51-year-old Plaintiff worked as a maintenance-of-way employee for Chicago & North Western Railway and its successor Union Pacific Railroad from 1976 to 2008. During his employment he endured years of exposure to benzene-laden chemicals such as creosote, coal tar distillates, carbolineum, naphtha, and various cleaning solvents. Following these exposures, he developed acute myeloid leukemia, an aggressive form of cancer that is heavily linked to benzene exposure. At trial, the jury awarded plaintiff compensation for the railroad’s failure to provide a safe workplace.

Hughes Law Offices is providing these case histories to inform visitors about actual case fact patterns, settlements, verdicts, and rulings. Unless specifically noted, the cases summarized herein were not handled by attorneys at Hughes Law Offices.

We may Be Able to Help

If you or a loved one worked for a railroad and have been diagnosed with a blood or bone marrow cancer, call 1-800-BENZENE today and speak with a knowledgeable railroad cancer attorney.  Benzene Lawyers was founded by Andrew Hughes.  Andrew actually defended railroads in FELA cases for most of his 20-year legal career.  He’s very familiar with the FELA, railroad worker exposures, and the resulting medical conditions that far too many railroad workers suffer from.  All attorney consultations are free.  Call today.

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