The question of who is responsible for an individual’s exposure to asbestos is at the heart of every mesothelioma lawsuit. Each case is a little different, with most involving individuals accusing asbestos product companies of placing profits over people in their failure to warn of the hazards hidden within the items they sold or manufactured. Though workers’ compensation laws usually prevent people from taking action against their former employers, it is possible in some rare instances of negligence, and this is particularly true of those who previously worked for railroads, where asbestos was constantly in use and employees are protected by federal law. One such case was recently heard in the United States District Court in Maine, where a long-time bridge operator diagnosed with the rare and fatal disease accused the Maine Central Railroad of negligence.
Railroad Knew of Mesothelioma Dangers for Decades
Mesothelioma victim Victor Coffin filed his lawsuit against his former employer under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA), which requires federal agencies to provide a reasonably safe place to work. He accused the railroad of having failed to do so and points out that they never tested his work area for asbestos, never warned him of the dangers of asbestos, and never provided him with sufficient safety apparel and equipment. The company argued that the case against them should be dismissed because it was not foreseeable to them that Mr. Coffin would be exposed to harmful levels of asbestos while he operated the Carlton Bridge.
Judge Rules that Risk of Asbestos Exposure and Mesothelioma Was Foreseeable
In reviewing the facts of the case and in making its decision, the court pointed out that the railroad’s entire argument against being held responsible for Mr. Coffin’s mesothelioma rested on the question of foreseeability. The court pointed out that it was both foreseeable that the Carlton Bridge, which was built in 1929, would contain asbestos and that the asbestos dust would escape the walls and harm Mr. Coffin. It also indicated that it was foreseeable that a person would have been injured by that type of asbestos exposure. Based upon each of these factors individually and collectively, the judge said that it had no choice but to follow FELA’s rules and view the facts in the light most favorable to Mr. Coffin. The motion to dismiss was denied and the case will move forward to a jury.
If you or someone you love was exposed to asbestos and later diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, we can help. Contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net today at 1-800-692-8608.