Lawsuit: Man's exposure to dangerous substances when working for Conrail led to his death from lung cancer

By Nicholas Malfitano | Sep 12, 2018


PHILADELPHIA – The widow of an inspection and repair employee for Conrail alleges the company violated the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) by exposing her late husband to several toxic substances and causing him to develop fatal lung cancer, which took his life in just four months.

Susan E. Willis De Seve (acting as Administrator of the Estate of Kevin C. De Seve) of Colonie, N.Y., filed suit in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas on June 5 versus Consolidated Rail Corporation of Philadelphia and American Premier Underwriters, Inc. (formerly known as “Penn Central Corporation” and c/o C.T. Corporation System) of Harrisburg.

Per the litigation, Kevin worked for Conrail performing inspections and repairs from 1969 to 1995. During that time frame, Susan alleges he was exposed “to diesel exhaust, asbestos, mineral spirits, benzene, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and second-hand cigarette and cigar smoke” in the course of his duties, and not provided respiratory protection, nor warned of the dangers of his exposure to those dangerous items.

“As a result of this exposure to diesel exhaust, asbestos, mineral spirits, benzene, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and second-hand cigarette and cigar smoke, decedent was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma of the upper and middle lobes of his right lung in April 2017 and died Aug. 13, 2017,” the suit states.

Susan alleges the defendants violated FELA by negligently failing to provide Kevin with reasonably safe and sufficient personal safety apparel and equipment and failing to minimize or eliminate the plaintiff’s decedent’s exposure to “diesel exhaust, asbestos, mineral spirits, benzene, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and second-hand cigarette and cigar smoke,” among other charges.

Defendants Conrail and American Premier Underwriters filed responses to the complaint on Aug. 22 and Aug. 27, respectively.

Counsel for Conrail argued the suit failed to state a case upon which relief can be granted, failed to state proper causes of action, was subject to forum non conveniens and that Kevin’s passing was instead related to pre-existing medical conditions, among other arguments.

Attorneys for American Premier Underwriters levied similar counter-arguments on forum non conveniens, alleged failure to state proper causes of action and limited courses of remedy provided through statute, in addition to other claims.

For violations of FELA and the Locomotive Inspection Act, the plaintiff is seeking damages in excess of $50,000.

The plaintiff is represented by Luke T. Pepper of Levin Sedran & Berman, in Philadelphia.

The defendants are represented by Matthew Decker of Duane Morris in Philadelphia, plus Daniel L. Jones and Nicholas W. Temeles of Blank Rome in Cincinnati.

Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas case 180600209

From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at nickpennrecord@gmail.com

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Organizations in this Story

Blank Rome Consolidated Rail Corporation Duane Morris Levin Sedran & Berman LLP Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas

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