Pennsylvania Record

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Superior Court reviewing venue issue in toxic exposure action brought by estate of late signalman

State Court

By Nicholas Malfitano | Aug 13, 2019


HARRISBURG – The choice of venue is at issue in a lawsuit brought by the estate of a former signalman for both Conrail and Amtrak who claims exposure to toxic substances led the decedent to contract a fatal case of colon cancer.

Earlier this year, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania granted a petition for review from Conrail, which appealed a Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas order dated Nov. 27 of last year.

That order from Philadelphia judge Shelley Robins-New denied Conrail’s motion to dismiss litigation from plaintiff Anne Mason for reasons of forum non conveniens and kept the case in a Philadelphia court, whereas Conrail had sought dismissal of the case without prejudice for refiling in “Massachusetts or [an]other appropriate jurisdiction.”

Anne Mason of Kissimmee, Fla. (representative of the Estate of John T. Mason) first filed suit in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas on Sept. 26, 2017, versus Consolidated Rail Corporation (Conrail) and National Rail Passenger Corporation (Amtrak), both of Philadelphia.

Amtrak was dismissed as a defendant to the lawsuit on Dec. 5.

The suit said John Mason worked for the defendant as a signalman from 1976 to 2001. During that time frame, Anne Mason alleged he was “exposed to excessive and harmful amounts of toxic substances, including diesel exhaust, benzene, creosote, and/or asbestos.”

The plaintiff claimed that less than three years before this action was filed, Anne “discovered that John’s colon cancer was caused or contributed to by the negligence of the defendants.”

Anne alleged the defendants violated FELA by negligently failing to provide John a reasonably safe place to work and failing “to minimize or eliminate John Mason’s exposure to diesel exhaust, benzene, creosote, and/or asbestos,” among other charges. Due to these conditions, Anne claimed John suffered illness and the development of colon cancer, which proved fatal to John on Sept. 28, 2014.

For one count of FELA violation, the plaintiff is seeking damages in excess of $50,000 and the costs of this action, in addition to an eight-person trial by jury.

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

The defendants are represented by Robert C. Levicoff, Sharon L. Caffrey and Jeffrey S. Pollack of Duane Morris, all in Philadelphia.

Superior Court of Pennsylvania case 583 EDA 2019

Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas case 170902942

From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at nick.malfitano@therecordinc.com

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Amtrak Conrail Superior Court of Pennsylvania

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