Railroad workers are filing FELA lawsuits against their former employers claiming they were exposed to alleged toxic substances during their railroad careers which caused them to develop cancer. Most of the plaintiffs are retired and developed cancer late in their lives. They claim their railroad employment from decades earlier is responsible. It is important when taking a plaintiff’s deposition in a toxic tort action to have the plaintiff be specific in describing the events from the time of his or her employment.
When questioned, former railroad workers frequently attempt to give only general, vague descriptions of their work environments. For example, a plaintiff may claim the environment was “usually bad,” or that “everyone” complained. During a deposition a plaintiff should be forced to be specific in the allegations, including when the exposure occurred, the location, the nature and amount of exposure, tasks the plaintiff was performing at the time, and any witnesses who were present.
If the plaintiff claims he made complaints, ask the plaintiff to identify the specific content of the complaint, the manner in which it was made, to whom the complaint was made, and when it was made. You will then have sufficient information to conduct additional investigation to determine whether there is evidence to support or refute the plaintiff’s allegation. It is too easy for a plaintiff to be general and vague in a deposition. By forcing a plaintiff to give specific details, you will have a basis to conduct additional investigation to develop facts in support your defense of the railroad.