CHARLESTON – A former railroad worker and his wife have filed a lawsuit claiming he was exposed to asbestos during his nearly 40 years on the job.

Thomas Jackson Black and Patricia A. Black filed the suit Jan. 12 in Kanawha Circuit Court.

In the suit, filed by Charleston attorney James A. McKowen of James F. Humphreys & Associates, Black says he worked for the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway Company, which later became part of CSX Transportation Inc., from 1951 to 1960 and from 1967 to 1995.

On that job, he claims, he was exposed to asbestos dust and fibers in the course of his duties as a laborer and crane operator. This exposure, he says, cause him to suffer severe and permanent injuries, including mesothelioma.

Seven defendants are listed in the eight-count suit. The defendants are CSX Transportation Inc., Certainteed Corporation, Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, Owens-Illinois; Rapid American Corporation; Union Carbide and Vimasco Corporation.

Black says C&O and later CSX didn't provide a safe place to work, didn't provide proper safety equipment, didn't warn its employees of the dangers of asbestos and didn't tell them how to safely use or remove asbestos. He says the other companies provided asbestos and asbestos-containing materials that he encountered on the job and didn't explain the dangers of asbestos and sold products that were not fit for use.

He also sues Metropolitan Life for conspiracy, citing the 1934 study backed by Met Life and Johns-Manville Corp. in which Dr. Anthony Lanza of Met Life didn't say asbestos exposure could be fatal.

Black seeks joint and several compensatory and punitive damages to be determined by the court as well as other relief.

He requests a jury trial.

Also listed as plaintiff's attorneys are John Guerry III and William E. Applegate IV of Motley Rice LLC, a South Carolina-based practice. Its Web site says it is of the nation's largest plaintiff litigation firms and that it first gained widespread national recognition for its success in representing persons injured by the asbestos industry.

The case has been assigned to a visiting judge.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 06-C-51

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