Pennsylvania Record

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Insurance agency and Conrail lose chance to dismiss ex-train inspector's toxic exposure litigation

State Court

By Nicholas Malfitano | Aug 2, 2019


PHILADELPHIA – American Premier Underwriters and Conrail have lost their bid to dismiss litigation filed by a former train car inspector who believes the multiple myeloma he contracted was the result of his former employer violating the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA), by exposing him to toxic substances.

On July 16, Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas John M. Younge denied the defendants’ motion to dismiss the action without prejudice for reasons of forum non conveniens, so that it may be refiled in another appropriate jurisdiction, such as Albany County, N.Y.

Gerald E. Gundlach of Latham, N.Y., initially filed suit in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas on April 30, 2018, versus Penn Central Corporation (a.k.a. American Premier Underwriters, Inc.) c/o CT Corporation Systems in Harrisburg and Consolidated Rail Corporation in Philadelphia.

According to the lawsuit, Gundlach worked for the defendants as a carman and car inspector from 1974 to 1984, in and around Selkirk, N.Y. During that time frame, Gundlach alleges he was exposed “to excessive and harmful amounts of toxic substances, including diesel exhaust, benzene, creosote and/or asbestos.”

Gerald additionally claimed that less than three years before this action was filed, he discovered that his “multiple myeloma was caused or contributed to by the negligence of the defendants.”

Gerald claimed the defendants violated FELA by negligently failing to provide him a reasonably safe place to work and failing “to minimize or eliminate [his] exposure to diesel exhaust, solvents, creosote and/or asbestos,” among other charges. Due to these allegedly-illegal workplace conditions, Gerald claims he developed multiple myeloma, which will result in reduced life expectancy.

For a lone count of negligence, the plaintiff is seeking damages in excess of $50,000 plus costs and an eight-person jury trial.

The plaintiff is represented by Thomas J. Joyce III and Tobi A. Russeck of Bern Cappelli, in Conshohocken.

The defendants are represented by Matthew Decker, Sharon L. Caffrey, Jeffrey S. Pollack and John P. Kahn of Duane Morris in Philadelphia and Cherry Hill, N.J., plus Daniel L. Jones of Blank Rome, in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas case 180404690

From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at

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Consolidated Rail