|Rail workers sue over asbestos exposure|
|April 20, 2005
Eight former employees of the former Illinois Central Railroad are taking the company to court alleging they were exposed to
hazardous products on the job. The lawsuits were filed last week in Black Hawk County District Court in Iowa and involve rail
facilities Illinois Central had run in Waterloo, Fort Dodge, Council Bluffs, Cherokee, Cedar Rapids, Sioux City, Dubuque and
Plaintiffs who worked in Waterloo include Frank H. Eastman, 91, Norman E. Andersen, 72, Roy D. Dishman, 78, Harold G.
Christeson, 78, and Gerald D. McInville, 64. Other plaintiffs are Gerald William Wagner, 75, Kenneth L. Newberry, 69, Ralph R.
Illinois Central, which dates back to 1851, was bought by Canadian National Railway in 1999. Canadian National isn't named in
Most of the plaintiffs worked in more than one place during their careers, records state. They worked for Illinois Central during
various periods between 1942 to 1994 in jobs such as engineer, boilermaker, telegraph operator, yardmaster.
Their duties brought them into contact with asbestos, coal dust and silica dust which caused them to develop diseases and
injuries, court records state.
The plaintiffs, who are represented by attorney Thomas Staack of Waterloo, said the company failed to provide a safe workplace
and didn't furnish protective masks or proper ventilation systems. Asbestos came from brake shoes in the rail cars and from
insulation around steam pipes.
"It was all over the engines. The old steam engines were covered with it," said Eastman, who retired as an engineer in 1975 and
now lives in Maquoketa. "They said I got spots on my lungs," Eastman said.
Public health officials said asbestosis is a respiratory disease caused by inhaling asbestos fibers. The fibers cause scar tissue
in the lungs, which hampers the lungs' function. Dr. Edward Bottei, medical director at the Iowa Poison Control Center, said the
disease usually doesn't show up until anywhere from 15 to 40 years after the exposure.
Court records show a number of the plaintiffs also filed asbestos litigation lawsuits in U.S. District Court in Virginia in 2003 and
2004 against manufacturers of asbestos-related products.
Source: Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier