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| Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

Toxic asbestos insulation products can cause a horrible asbestos-induced cancer called mesothelioma. And you may not be diagnosed until 15 to 50 years after exposure. Unlike many types of cancers for which there are known causes but cannot be completely cured or stopped, mesothelioma is a completely preventable cancer. It’s preventable by the simple means of eliminating or substituting asbestos insulating materials for other types of insulation in the railroad workplace.

Every family has a relative or close friend that is stricken by a deadly cancer. Many sorts of cancers have unknown causes. Medical science is not sure what triggers a number of cancers in humans. Asbestos caused mesothelioma is completely different – there would be no mesothelioma cancer with proper health and safety strategies in the railroad workplace and it is truly disturbing to know that the railroads were warned about how highly toxic asbestos was, and that it was causing cancer, by 1960. Multiple international studies showed alarming rates of cancers including mesothelioma lung lining cancers – by the early 60s. These sentinel studies should have caused railroads to immediately engage in a massive campaign of removing every possible asbestos containing material from locomotive engines, office buildings, railroad equipment etc. Nonetheless, the nation’s railroads did virtually nothing in the 1960s to substitute or eliminate asbestos insulating materials, despite the health studies and these international medical findings about asbestos cancers. These major studies also proved that cigarette smoking has no effect on the contraction of mesothelioma, though it does increase the risk of lung cancer caused by asbestos exposure.

In the 1970s, some railroads took tiny steps to cut back on ordering asbestos insulating materials but virtually none of them engaged in a systematic effort to remove asbestos from all diesel engines and to survey workplaces for existence of asbestos because of the staggeringly dangerous cancers arising from the toxic components.

One of the reasons the railroads seem to have ignored the warning signs is that they weren’t being sued in the civil justice system and had not been forced to pay for the health effects and ruinous results affecting workers until sometime in the 1980s. A small number of lawsuits in the 1980’s were filed around the United States by workers suffering permanent health effects and cancers from asbestos. However, in the classic “profits over safety” scenario which plays out in society, the railroads began defending the suits by arguing that they had done nothing wrong, rather than engage in a systematic effort to wipe clean their workplace of asbestos. Little by little, the FELA railroad injury attorneys pealed back the truth: railroad medical doctors learned about the health hazards of asbestos in the 1930’s and about asbestos cancers in the 1950’s and 1960’s.

In railroad worker suits where cancers arise from alleged asbestos exposures, the railroads focus their defense on arguing that the worker cannot prove any particular level of exposure to the microscopic asbestos fibers. Railroads typically argue it just wasn’t enough exposure to cause disease or cancer in engineers, conductors, track maintenance or car repair workers. On the other hand, my focus as an experienced railroad injury attorney is to develop how the railroad’s lack of safety and warnings has completely devastated a person’s life that is forced to endure chemotherapy, radiation, and the absolute loss of quality of life as a result of asbestos cancers. In other words, I want to explore and prove the devastating health effects of asbestos cancers, while the railroad wants to focus on the fact that asbestos fibers are so microscopically tiny that a typical worker cannot prove exactly how much asbestos they were exposed to. These are the types of battles that are engaged in month in and month out in the nation’s jury system with regard to asbestos cancers, especially at railroads, a heavy historical asbestos user.

Based on my experience with cancer treatment and with the types of modalities that are engaged in by oncologists who treat asbestos cancers, our goal is to impress upon a court and jury the tremendous personal toll that the preventable cancer mesothelioma places upon a railroad worker or any individual for that matter. Our firm has handled numerous mesothelioma cases for afflicted railroad workers so we know many of the arguments and tricks railroads like to use during the litigation process.

Get an experienced railroad injury attorney to evaluate whether your railroad cancer claim may be the result of negligence of the railroad. Feel free to contact us so we can evaluate whether we can assist with your claim.

About the Editors: Shapiro, Cooper, Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm (VA-NC law offices ) edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard, and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as a pro bono service to consumers.

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