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Cancer Lawsuits

Representing Clients Nationwide Following Diesel Exhaust & Asbestos Exposure
Freight train on tracks with diesel exhaust

Railroad Injury Lawyers

The Lyon Firm is investigating new mesothelioma and lung cancer cases linked to occupational toxic exposure at various rail yards operated by Illinois Central Railroad and Canadian National Railway. Due to a long latency period in some cancers caused by toxic materials, workers may be diagnosed with a related illness many years after initial exposure.

It is no secret that many railroad employees across the country have faced a variety of toxic exposure during their careers. Regardless of their specific position, spending time around rail yards, roundhouses, track maintenance depots, poorly ventilated machine work shops, and inside trains can result in the chronic inhalation of diesel exhaust, asbestos, creosote, welding fumes, silica, benzene, solvents and other hazardous substances.

As a result, many former Illinois Central Railroad workers have later developed related occupational cancers. Our toxic exposure lawyers are reviewing potential personal injury and FELA claims for current and ex-railroad staff who have been diagnosed with the following:

  • Lung cancer
  • Mesothelioma
  • Kidney cancer
  • Bladder cancer
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Esophageal Cancer
  • Bone cancer
  • Leukemia
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Asbestosis

Railroad cancer lawsuits have resulted in some large verdicts and settlements, many which are settled out of court before a trial takes place. Many rail companies have been reticent to take a case to trial in fear of a massive judgment against them. Our lawyers take new clients on a contingency fee basis, and we assume all financial risk.

Can I Sue Illinois Central Railroad?

There have been hundreds of successful lawsuits filed against railroad companies in recent years, and the courts have looked favorably on these cases moving forward. Juries have awarded plaintiffs, and victims of diesel exhaust related cancers and other occupational injuries have been rightfully compensated years after initial toxic exposure.

Most railroad cancer cases involve the chronic, years-long workplace exposure to creosote, diesel exhaust, solvents, benzene, silica dust, or asbestos.

Recently, numerous former employees have sued Illinois Central Railroad, claiming exposure to diesel fumes and other toxic materials. One plaintiffs filed the complaint against Illinois Central Railroad Company, doing business as Canadian National/Illinois Central after developing colorectal cancer that metastasized to other parts of his body. According to the complaint, the plaintiff worked for Illinois Central as a conductor, brakeman, and engineer at various work sites. As a regular staffer, he and others were always near diesel locomotives and other diesel-powered machinery. He was thereby constantly inhaling and ingesting diesel exhaust and emissions.

Many attorneys claim that large railroad employers should have known about the dangers of working around diesel fumes every day on the job. In many FELA cases, plaintiffs claim railroad companies are negligent in cases where they fail to provide a safe work environment, fail to provide proper safety equipment, fail to maintain that safety equipment, and fail to properly train workers on site.

Unlike worker’s compensation, FELA cases are not bound by a so-called “cap,” or a predetermined maximum level of compensation. If diagnosed with a related cancer following years of work at a rail yard, plaintiffs can file lawsuits and seek compensation for the following:

  • Lost wages (past and future earnings)
  • Long-term disability
  • Pain and suffering
  • Out-of-pocket medical expenses (Treatments, medications, hospital visits and rehab)
  • Impairment to quality of life
  • Wrongful Death


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Joseph Lyon has 17 years of experience representing individuals in complex litigation matters. He has represented individuals in every state against many of the largest companies in the world.

The Firm focuses on single-event civil cases and class actions involving corporate neglect & fraud, toxic exposure, product defects & recalls, medical malpractice, and invasion of privacy.


The Firm offers contingency fees, advancing all costs of the litigation, and accepting the full financial risk, allowing our clients full access to the legal system while reducing the financial stress while they focus on their healthcare and financial needs.

More About Illinois Central Railroad

The Illinois Central Railroad was a major railroad that connected Chicago and the Great Lakes to much of the south. Eventually in 1998, Canadian National Railway acquired control of the company. In the 1960s, the railroad companies started using exclusively diesel locomotives, replacing the old steam engines.

In 1972, the Illinois Central Railroad merged with the Gulf, Mobile and Ohio Railroad to form the Illinois Central Gulf Railroad, and in the years after operated over 8,000 miles of railroad. Most of the older rail lines were bought by other railroad outfits, including the Chicago, Missouri and Western Railway; Paducah and Louisville Railway; Chicago Central and Pacific Railroad; and MidSouth Rail Corporation.

On February 11, 1998, the company was purchased by Canadian National Railway (CN), the company that now assumes legal liability for any injuries and illnesses that dated back to the 1990s and earlier. 

After a confirmed occupational lung disease or cancer diagnosis, Illinois Central employees may be entitled to compensation under the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA). FELA allows railroad employees to recover damages, compensation, lost earnings and payment for injuries suffered while on the job because of alleged negligence or an unsafe work environment. Railroad companies have long been expected to provide reasonably safe places to work for every employee.

photo of attorney Joe Lyon
A Voice for America’s Working Class

Why File a FELA Lawsuit?

Railroad injury and cancer cases typically involve serious or terminal medical conditions that can strain any family’s financial stability. It is necessary to get the best medical care possible, but this can sometimes be a challenge without the proper insurance or cash reserves. We aim to get our clients compensated so they can comfortably get medical care and live their life following this difficult period. 
You may be able to file a claim to recover lost earnings, medical expenses and non-material damages. 


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Illinois Central Railroad Diesel Exposure FAQ

Who is at railroad cancer risk?

Almost anyone in the field at a railyard could have been exposed to large amounts of benzene, diesel exhaust, asbestos, welding fumes, silica sand, creosote and other industrial chemicals. There are reports of conductors, engineers, carmen, brakemen, track maintenance crew, machinists, clerks, pipefitters and electricians developing cancer years after working at a rail yard. 

Why Hire The Lyon Firm?

An experienced toxic exposure and railroad cancer lawyer will find industry experts to aid in a full investigation into your unique case. We have the resources to build strong cases and gain significant settlements on behalf of our clients. We will work on your behalf while you focus on your health and spend time with your family. 

Who Has Sued Illinois Central Railroad?

In one notable FELA case, one Illinois Central employee worked for the company between 1974 and 1987 as a train operator in Illinois. He claimed he was exposed to asbestos brake dust, asbestos insulation, benzene and diesel exhaust during those years of service. He later developed esophageal cancer.

Another Illinois Central Railroad employee who worked as a mechanic at the Memphis Johnston Yard was diagnosed with squamous cell cancer which ultimately resulted in his death in 2008.

In 2017, a Mississippi court found the Illinois Central Railroad Company liable for the death of one of its former employees who died from mesothelioma.