Benzene, Union Pacific, Poland and Colon cancer


Benzene, Union Pacific, Poland and Colon cancer is about Union Pacific employee that that alleges his exposure to his workplace exposure to toxic substances and carcinogens caused his colon cancer.  A brief summary of the Benzene, Union Pacific, Poland and Colon cancer case follows:

  • Teresa Poland, as personal representative of the estate of Todd Poland (Plaintiff), is suing Todd Poland’s former employer, Union Pacific Railroad Company (UPRR), under the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) 45 U.S.C. § 51 et seq., alleging his workplace exposure to toxic substances and carcinogens caused his colon cancer.
  • Todd Poland (Poland) was diagnosed on October 24, 2011 and passed away on October 28, 2015.
  • UPRR now moves for summary judgment, arguing Plaintiff’s claims under the FELA are time-barred because they were filed more than three years after Poland was diagnosed with cancer. See 45 U.S.C. § 56. For the reasons explained below, the motion for summary judgment will be granted.
  • Poland worked for UPRR from 1975 to 2011 as a track laborer, machine operator and foreman.
  • The Complaint alleges that during Poland’s employment, he was exposed to diesel fuel/exhaust, benzene, creosote, herbicides, and rock/asbestos/sand dust and fibers.
  • Teresa Poland is designated as personal representative for Todd Poland’s estate.  Teresa and Todd Poland started dating in 1986 and were married in 1993.
  • Over the span of 30 years, Poland would call Plaintiff to complain about creosote burns, diesel fumes and other work conditions.
  • Starting around 1990, Poland complained that diesel fumes gave him a sore throat and that he could taste the fumes by breathing them in.
  • Poland complained to Plaintiff about the creosote burns as soon as they started dating, in the late 1980’s, and would use Noxzema on his burns.
  • Poland would come home filthy with dust on his clothes.
  • On one occasion, Poland came home with his shirt and pants soaked in diesel fuel.
  • Poland always got undressed in the garage and his clothes were washed separately because of the smell.
  • In the early 2000s, Poland and his co-workers complained at a union meeting about asbestos and the “horrendous” fumes in the diesel shop.
  • Poland complained diesel fumes burned his eyes.
  • Poland knew about his colon cancer no later than October 24, 2011, the date he was diagnosed.
  • Poland passed away on October 28, 2015.
  • Plaintiff did nothing to investigate the cause of Poland’s cancer and was not aware of anything Poland did to investigate.
  • In 2018, Plaintiff spoke with one of Poland’s co-workers who suggested Poland’s work conditions may have contributed to the cause of his death or cancer.
  • Prior to this discussion and prior to Poland’s cancer diagnosis, Plaintiff was aware of Poland’s exposure to creosote and diesel fumes.
  • Plaintiff filed suit on October 24, 2018 after seeing a television ad for an attorney.

For more on the Benzene, Union Pacific, Harder and follicular lymphoma (a type of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma) case in the United States District Court, D. Nebraska, please follow this link: Benzene, Union Pacific, Poland and Colon cancer.


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