An ongoing legal battle over whether BNSF Railway Company is responsible for a railroad worker’s benzene exposure and subsequent cancer death will continue after the court denied the defendant’s motion for summary judgment. The case revolves around the death of Cathy Jo Bettisworth, who was a long-time employee at the railroad’s yard in Alliance, Nebraska.
Mrs. Bettisworth was employed by BNSF Railway Company from 1979 to 2012, and the benzene exposure lawsuit against the company claims that during those years she was constantly exposed to a “wide range of toxic and carcinogenic substances, including various solvents, diesel fuel, benzene, creosote, silica dust, and asbestos insulation.
She developed lung cancer and passed away on December 31, 2014, and on December 26 of 2017, her husband Dale filed a lawsuit as the personal representative of her estate. Rather than argue against their own negligence, the railway chose to ask for the case to be denied on a legal technicality, arguing that Mr. Bettisworth had not been appointed the personal representative of his late wife’s estate at the time that the legal claim was filed.
Benzene Exposure Blamed for Wife’s Suffering and Death
In his lawsuit accusing the company of negligence, Mr. Bettisworth points to the constant benzene exposure that she suffered, as well as her exposure to other carcinogenic materials, as having contributed to the significant pain and suffering that she had to endure in her final years, as well as the substantial medical expenses that were incurred prior to her death.
The company has previously faced similar legal claims from a variety of former employees, including a lawsuit filed last fall by two conductors who argue that the railroad is responsible for having exposed them to toxic chemicals and causing their cancer and related illnesses. The court has given Mr. Bettisworth until July to make arrangements to be appointed as the personal representative of his late wife’s estate so that the case can proceed.