Former employees of national railroad company Union Pacific have filed a lawsuit saying that the company negligently exposed them to asbestos for many years, causing them to contract a lung disease. The workers who have joined as plaintiffs in the lawsuit were employed by the railroad between 1960 and 2012 as track laborers.
There are many allegations of negligence in this case related to the railroad's failure to protect or warn the workers of the exposure risk. The company is accused of actually knowing about the hazardous content of some of the materials that the workers were exposed to, but that they continued to use them anyways. They also failed to warn workers that they may be exposed to asbestos.
Typically once an employer knows that there is a serious safety hazard on the job they must act to prevent further risk to employees. In asbestos cases the risk is easier to ignore because it is hard to detect and workers are often unaware of the exposure until they have already become ill with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease. This type of behavior is not only negligent, but also violates labor laws.
The workers in this case are requesting compensation for medical expenses, physical pain and suffering, physical impairment, mental anguish, fear of cancer, and other types of damages. These requests are common in an asbestos case, where workers who have not yet developed a disease live in fear of an impending cancer diagnosis which can substantially affect one's mental state and their ability to enjoy life.
Source: Southeast Texas Record, "Railroad employees sue claiming decades of asbestos exposure," Michelle Keahey, Jan. 28, 2013.