Posted on Jul 29, 2006
Jersey City Lawyer Wins $16.4 million Jury Award for Asbestos Victims in Brooklyn
A Brooklyn jury awarded three Long Island Railroad workers nearly $17 million dollars for lung disease caused by their exposure to diesel fumes and asbestos encountered while working for the railroad.
July 29, 2006 ( Jersey City, NJ ) -- A Brooklyn jury awarded three retired Long Island Railroad (LIRR) workers a total of 16.4 million dollars for lung disease caused by their exposure to asbestos while working for the railroad. A Brooklyn jury awarded three retired Long Island Railroad (LIRR) workers a total of 16.4 million dollars for lung disease caused by their exposure to asbestos while working for the railroad.
Following an eight day jury trial before the Honorable Lawrence Knipel, Albito Velez-Zapata (age 61) of Massepequa Park, New York was awarded 8 million dollars, Lincoln Aguirre (age 61) of Deer Park, New York was awarded 6 million dollars and James Harrington (age 54) of Brookville, New York was awarded 2.4 million dollars.
The consolidated claims were filed under the Federal Employee's Liability Act (FELA), a special law designed to protect interstate railroad workers. The workers, all machinists, represented by Alan T. Friedman of Jersey City's Bagolie Friedman Injury Lawyers and Paul Garner, affiliated with Jersey City's Horn Shechtman, were exposed to deadly asbestos fibers while grinding gaskets on a high revolution wire wheel and while working around contaminated rail cars and locomotives.
The jury found that the railroad knew about the dangers of asbestos dust beginning in the 1930s and failed warn their workers of the dangers and failed to protect them from the deadly fibers. LIRR argued that the dust masks were available to the workers, despite the fact that their own Asbestos Awareness Program advised that dust masks were not adequate protection for workers exposed to asbestos. This Asbestos Awareness Program was not implemented until the 1990's, long after other industries had reacted to their asbestos problems.
Additionally, the Long Island Railroad was fined by the State of New York in the 1990's for failing to implement a Right to Know program to advise their workers of workplace hazards. A Federal law requiring this type of program had been passed in the 1980's. "The LIRR treated these workers as if they were expendable or disposable, just like the machines that it was their job to repair.
The railroad considered them human overhead. This jury told the LIRR in a loud, clear voice that this is no way to treat your employees" said attorney Alan Friedman. The cases, Aguirre, Harrington & Velez Zappata v. Long Island Railroad Company , Docket Nos.: 26113-96; 26112-96; 26114-96 Supreme Court of New York, Kings County, were decided on April 26, 2006. Plaintiff's experts included Pulmonologist Dr. Victor Marcione of Jersey City, NJ and liability expert, industrial hygienist,Dr. Michael Ellenbecker of Boston, MA This is the second time that attorney Friedman has gotten a multi-million dollar verdict against LIIRR for asbestosis and lung disease.