Railroad workers claim occupational exposure to asbestos

Michelle Keahey, East Texas Bureau Mar. 20, 2012, 4:20am


MARSHALL - Several railroad workers have filed a lawsuit that claims they received occupational exposure to asbestos for decades and now have lung injuries as a result.

Plaintiffs Bobby W. McElhannon, Curnell Clark, Cleandrew Sowls and James E. Shepherd filed suit against Kansas City Southern Railway Co. on March 26 in the Eastern District of Texas, Marshall Division.

The men state that the railroad was are of the health hazards associated with occupational exposure to hazardous dusts, yet failed to provide them with a safe place to work. The plaintiffs claim that they were exposed to asbestos and/or silica-containing dusts, which they allege caused injuries to their lungs.

McElhannon was employed by the defendant from 1973 until the present. Clark worked for the railroad from 1971 until 1983. Sowls was employed by KCS from 1973 until 1983. Shepherd was employed by the defendant from 1974 until 2006.

The defendant is accused of negligence under the Federal Employers' Liability Act and for violations of the Locomotive Boiler Inspection Act for continuing to purchase, install and use asbestos-containing materials, for failing to inspect its cars, engines, appliances, machinery and other equipment for the presence of asbestos-containing materials, for failing to remove the asbestos-containing material, and for failing to warn the plaintiffs regarding the presence of asbestos-containing materials.

Kansas City Southern Railway is also accused of failing to warn the men regarding the synergistic effect between smoking and asbestos exposure, for failing to provide proper respirators, failing to conduct air monitoring, and for failing to provide comprehensive asbestos medical exams for violating its own policies.

The former employees are asking for an award of medical expenses, mental anguish, physical pain and suffering, fear of cancer, physical impairment, court costs and interest.

The plaintiffs are represented by John G. Zgourides and J. Kirkland Sammons of Sammons & Berry P.C. in Houston. A jury trial is requested.

U.S. District Judge Rodney Gilstrap is assigned to the case.

Case No. 2:12-cv-00139

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