Estate of Railroad Worker Awarded $1.4 Million in Asbestos Fela Action

06.26.2013: James Wylder and Andrew Kelly of the Bloomington law firm Wylder Corwin Kelly LLP were the lawyers representing Jane Lilienthal, Administrator of the Estate of Jake Lilienthal, deceased in a 2 week trial in which a McLean County jury returned a verdict at approximately 5:30 p.m. yesterday in the total amount of $1,443,810.53 against defendant, Illinois Central Railroad Company.

Jane Lilienthal’s husband, Jake Lilienthal was born and raised in Bloomington-Normal and began working for the GM&O Railroad (a predecessor to the Illinois Central Railroad Company) at its shops and railyard on Bloomington’s west-side in 1957 as a laborer and machinist. From 1957-1972 in Bloomington, and after 1972 when he was transferred to the railroad’s Paducah, Kentucky shops, Jake Lilienthal was exposed to asbestos from various materials including asbestos rope, asbestos insulations, asbestos brakes, asbestos gaskets/packing and other asbestos materials. Jake Lilienthal developed asbestosis (scarring of the lungs) and lung cancer from his exposures to asbestos. He died on November 4, 2009 from the lung cancer.

The case was filed in McLean County Circuit Court under the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) that covers injuries sustained by railroad workers in the course of their employment. The jury found the railroad had knowledge of the hazards of asbestos and negligently failed to warn Jake Lilienthal about the hazards of asbestos, including failure to provide a reasonably safe work environment, and that the railroad’s negligence in protecting Jake from asbestos exposure was a cause of his development of asbestosis and lung cancer, and a cause of Jake’s death.

The 2 week trial was held in McLean County in front of Judge Paul Lawrence. The jury deliberated over parts of 2 days.