Man Alleges Exposure to Railroad Dust, Fumes Caused Colon Cancer


A man is suing Union Pacific Railroad and BNSF Railway Co., alleging he contracted colon cancer from years of working in jobs for both companies that exposed him to toxic diesel fumes, vapors and dust.

David C. Partida’s Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit alleges a sole cause of action for violation of the federal employers’ liability act. He seeks unspecified damages in the complaint filed Tuesday. Partida learned from an ad on Facebook in April 2018 that his colon cancer may have been caused by being exposed to toxic substances while working for the railroads, the suit states.

Representatives for the two railroads did not immediately reply to requests for comment.

Partida, 46, of Flagstaff, Ariz. worked from 1979 to 2000 for Union Pacific as a brakeman and carman in the Taylor Yard and from 2004 to present for BNSF as a conductor and remote control operator in the Los Angeles Yard as well as in Arizona and New Mexico, the suit states.

While working for the railroads in their yards and along their track right-of-way, Partida was exposed to various toxic substances and carcinogens, including diesel fuel and exhaust, benzene, creosote and rock and mineral dust and fibers, the suit states.

Rock dust was caused by the vibration of passing trains and creosote vapors and liquid were generated from railroad ties and timbers, the suit states. Creosote is a clear or yellowish, flammable and oily liquid mixture of compounds created by distilling tar derived from wood.

Partida’s exposure to the toxic substances and known carcinogens through touch, inhalation and consumption contributed to his development of colon cancer, the suit alleges. His health problems resulted from the railroads’ negligent use of cancer-causing materials in their operations that they knew could be injurious to their employees’ health, the suit states.

The companies failed to reduce, modify or eliminate certain job duties, equipment or practices that would have eliminated Partida’s exposure to toxic materials and carcinogens, the suit states. The railroads also neglected to test their facilities, equipment, yards, buildings and right-of-ways for harmful materials, according to the suit.

Partida, who has experienced emotional distress and incurred medical expenses, also suffers from a fear he will die of colon cancer, the suit states.

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