Railroad Switchman Dies After HAZMAT Chemical Leak 2019-12-04T19:02:09+00:00


Publication: Cook County Jury Verdict Reporter Published: 2007

Estate of Lany Copper, deceased v Soo Line Railroad Co., d/b/a Canadian Pacific Railway 04L-8768
Tried Oct.18-25, 2007

Verdict: $1,000,000: ($350,000 pecuniary loss; $200,000 survival pain & suffering; $450,000 past and future lost earnings). Special Interrogatories: Did any exposure to any hydrocarbon on Feb. 27, 2002, cause and/or trigger Larry Cooper’s Wegener’s granulomatosis? “Yes.”

Judge: Cheryl A. Starks (IL Cook-Law)
Pltf Atty(s): Dean Caras and Tara C. Meadows of Dean J. Caw & Associates DEMAND: $600,000
Deft Atty(s): Edward H. MacCabe and Andrew L. Hughes of MacCabe &McGuire (SELF-INSURED) OFFER: $500,000

Pltf Medl: Dr. George Geis (Emergency Medicine)
Pltf Expert(s): Dr. Fernando Soler (Internist)
Deft Expert(s): Dr. Lawrence H. Repsher: (Pulmonologist), Dr. Michael Bendele Blackmon of Southwest Pulmonary Associates, 6124 W. Parker Rd., #131, Plano, TX (214-778-1075) (pulmonologist) and Phillip T. Goad, Ph.D. of Center For Toxicology & Environmental Health, 5120 North Shore Drive, North Little Rock, AR (501-801-8500) (Toxicologist)

​Feb. 27, 2002, Larry Cooper was working as a railroad switchman at the Soo Line/Canadian Pacific rail yard in Bensenville when he was exposed to a toxic substance leaking from a rail car. The hydrocarbon leak led to an onset of Wegener’s granulomatosis which caused M-50 Cooper’s death on April 4, 2002; he was survived by his wife and three adult children ($40,000 LT per year plus benefits). Defense contended Cooper was not exposed to any toxic substance in the rail yard on Feb. 27, 2002, and no rail cars were found leaking on that date. However, plaintiff produced witnesses who observed fumes spewing from the rail car as well as a Canadian Pacific report that two days later the same car was discovered spewing in Wisconsin. Defense also argued the Wegener’s granulomatosis was pre-existing and unrelated to the occurrence. Plaintiffs counsel Caras was the third attorney to represent plaintiff after two prior lawyers withdrew from the case.

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