Court Rules for Asbestos Victim, Against Railroad Company
The daughter of a former railroad company employee who died from mesothelioma filed a lawsuit on behalf of her father, stating that he incurred hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages. A jury agreed, finding that the deceased had incurred $250,000 in damages. However, the jury also found that the deceased was 80% responsible for the development of his own mesothelioma. This meant that the railroad company was only liable for 20%, or $50,000.
The railroad company wasn’t satisfied with the ruling, arguing in a supplemental brief that the Mississippi Supreme Court should follow federal common law and allow a defendant to offset a Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA) asbestos-related lung cancer award with recoveries the plaintiff received from asbestos bankruptcy trusts. The railroad company said that it believed that the worker had received nearly $75,000 from asbestos trusts and other companies before his death.
The argument did not sit well with the court, so the railroad company’s request was denied, with the court upholding the $50,000 ruling, attaching an additional 8% interest, which brought the ruling to $54,000.
The railroad company tried, once again, to appeal the ruling, but it was struck down by the court, which said the “laws do not allow for a defendant to avoid payment of damages based on compensation to the plaintiff from a third party that was not a party to the action.”
Asbestos and Railroad Workers
A study by researchers at the Department of Medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital stated that before the transition from steam- to diesel-powered locomotives during the 1950s, older railroad workers with jobs associated with the repair of steam locomotives had the opportunity for significant occupational exposure to asbestos. Because even a small amount of asbestos exposure could lead to asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma, all workers employed by railroad companies before the 1950s (and even later) are at risk.
If you have been exposed to asbestos, or know someone who has, please seek medical help right away. Although there is no cure for asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma, early diagnosis could improve survival.
Garshick, E., M. B. Schenker, S. R. Woskie, and F. E. Speizer. "Past Exposure to Asbestos among Active Railroad Workers." American Journal of Industrial Medicine. U.S. National Library of Medicine, n.d. Web. 14 Feb. 2018.
"Railroad Asks Mississippi High Court To Allow Setoff Of FELA Asbestos Verdict." Lexis Legal News. LexisNexis, 12 Sept. 2017. Web. 14 Feb. 2018.