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Rail News: Labor

NS to pay locomotive engineer damages associated with 'diesel asthma,' Ohio Supreme Court says


The Ohio Supreme Court recently upheld a verdict requiring Norfolk Southern Railway to pay a locomotive engineer $625,000 because he developed "diesel asthma," a disease associated with prolonged inhalation of diesel fumes, according to a statement issued Jan. 15 by the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen (BLET) Rail Division of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

Since 1987, BLET Local Chairman Rodney Cutlip has served NS as a locomotive engineer. In the mid 1990s, the Class I instituted a policy — which remained in effect for several years — requiring that locomotives be run "long hood forward" whenever possible.

During this period, Cutlip experienced symptoms of asthmatic bronchitis because excessive amounts of diesel exhaust would leak into the cab, BLET officials said. Engineers and conductors routinely used duct tape to seal locomotive windows and doors to prevent exhaust from entering a cab.

NS attorneys argued that Cutlip's condition was caused by years of smoking and a Vietnam War injury that destroyed part of his right lung.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 1/16/2004