ANDREW L. WARD, JR., AS PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE OF LARRY AND MILDRED SEWARD, DECEASED
ILLINOIS CENTRAL RAILROAD COMPANY
OF JUDGMENT: 01/30/2018
COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. CELESTE EMBREY WILSON JUDGE
COURT ATTORNEYS: PATRICK STEVEN O'BRIEN CHARLES EDWARD
SOREY, II STEPHANIE CAMILLE REIFERS BROOKS E. KOSTAKIS
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: CHARLES EDWARD SOREY, II PATRICK
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: STEPHANIE CAMILLE REIFERS THOMAS R.
PETERS BROOKS E. KOSTAKIS
Andrew L. Ward sued Illinois Central Railroad Company on
behalf of Larry Seward. Ward alleged that Illinois Central
breached its duty of care and failed to provide Seward with a
safe place to work, allegedly causing Seward's brain
cancer. Illinois Central filed a motion for summary judgment
based on a previous settlement and release that Seward had
entered into with Illinois Central before his death. The
trial court granted Illinois Central's motion for summary
judgment. Ward appealed the trial court's grant of
summary judgment. The Court affirms.
Larry Seward worked for Illinois Central Railroad Company
from 1961 to 2004. In 2005, Seward settled an asbestosis
claim with Illinois Central. He subsequently developed and
passed away from anaplastic oligodendroglioma, a type of
In 2012, Andrew L. Ward sued Illinois Central on behalf of
Seward. Ward alleged that Illinois Central breached its duty
of care and failed to provide Seward with a safe place to
work. The complaint detailed specific issues with the work
environment, including Seward's exposure to chemicals and
hazardous conditions. The complaint alleged that the working
environment "caused, in whole or in part,"
Seward's brain cancer.
Illinois Central filed a motion for summary judgment based on
the settlement and release that Seward signed in 2005. The
2005 settlement was due to an asbestos-related illness. In
pertinent part, the release provided,
[T]he Undersigned alleges [that Releasees (Illinois Central)]
created an exposure or exposures to asbestos, coal, coal
dust, welding fumes, brass fumes, diesel fumes, dust, paint
vapors, fuel fumes, methyl bromide, ammonia gas, sand,
silica, Dow Clean, solvents, cleaners, degreasers, and other
fumes, dusts, mists, gases, and vapors from any material,
chemical, toxin or other agent. The Undersigned asserts that
such exposure caused a condition, injury, disease and/or
deficiency (hereinafter, referred to as
"condition") in the Undersigned including, but not
limited to plaques, calcifications, thickening,
pneumoconiosis including asbestosis and silicosis, severe and
permanent injuries to the lungs, respiratory system, nerves
and/or nervous system, cancer, and any and all other
conditions, diseases or injuries existing prior to the date
of this Release Agreement which are known to the Undersigned
or reasonably could have been known prior to the date of this
Release Agreement and which may further develop in the future
as a result of what now exists, arising from or as a result
of the alleged exposures or which may further develop as a
result of the Undersigned's current known or unknown
conditions, which allegedly developed over time while working
in one or more of the Releasees employ, which are expressly
process of making the settlement, Illinois Central asked
Seward to fill out its "Pulmonary Questionnaire."
The pulmonary questionnaire asked Seward to "[p]lease
check all chemicals you allege exposures from while employed
at Illinois Central." Seward placed an "x" or
a check mark next to asbestos, diesel exhaust, silica,
solvents, degreasers, coal, chemicals and weed spray. He also
checked that he had been diagnosed with asbestosis,
bronchitis and pneumonia.
Ward presented the testimony of Robert Peirce Jr. Peirce was
Seward's attorney at the time of the 2005 settlement and
release. Peirce's affidavit stated that "Mr. Seward
and myself were unaware that Mr. Seward has suffered
exposures to chemical which would ultimately cause him to
contract primary brain cancer . . . ." Peirce further
provided that he "did not negotiate or obtain any monies
from Illinois Central Railroad Company to compensate Mr.
Seward for anything other than his lung injury" and if
he "[h]ad known that Mr. Seward would subsequently
develop anaplastic oligodemdroglioma or any other
occupational cancer not listed in the Complaint or Release
[he] would have demanded additional compensation for Mr.
Seward." Peirce also provided the following deposition
Q. You agree with me that these questionnaires ask about
exposure beyond asbestos to each of these individuals;
A. No, I don't agree with that.
Q. What do you think the purpose of question 3A is?
A. It says check all the chemicals you allege exposure from
while employed at Illinois Central.
Q. So do you think they're looking for exposures beyond
just asbestos in answer to that question?
Q. What do you think they're looking for?
A. I think they're looking for asbestos exposure.
. . . .
Q. Is it your position the railroad didn't want to know
that they were exposed to diesel exhaust, they just wanted to