Conductors sue railroad, allege responsibilty for illnesses

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COEUR d’ALENE — Two train conductors stationed at Hauser when they were employed by the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad are suing the train company in Coeur d’Alene First District Court for illnesses they allege resulted from working on the railroad.

John Hluboky and Hal Chapman, both rail conductors now living in Spokane, allege that the BNSF Railroad is responsible for their cancer and related diseases, according to the lawsuit.

They are suing the railroad for an undisclosed amount, in excess of $10,000.

Hluboky worked on the railroad based in Hauser as a conductor from 1977 to 1998, and Chapman worked as a conductor at Hauser between 2006 and 2016.

Hluboky has been diagnosed with colon cancer and Chapman has kidney cancer, according to the lawsuit.

Both men allege the railroad was negligent when it allowed them to be exposed as part of their jobs to diesel fuel and exhaust, benzene, creosote from the railroad ties, rock and silica dust loosed from the railbed and asbestos from the train’s insulation and brake shoes, according to the lawsuit.

“Plaintiff’s exposure was cumulative and occurred at different and variable exposure levels over the course of his career, according to the lawsuits which are being heard separately this week by District Judge Richard S. Christensen.

The men say the railroad failed to take ordinary care and caution, didn’t test the cars or train yards for toxic materials and failed to remediate known carcinogens from its facilities.

BNSF through its attorneys denied the charges and asked for a jury trial set for 10 days beginning May 6.

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