Former railroad workers, who are four Navajo Nation members, are all now suffering from lung disease. As a result, the four workers filed a lawsuit against BNSF Railway. They allege that due to the exposure to dusty work conditions their lungs and respiratory systems were damaged. During their work for BNSF, they were exposed to toxic ballast rock, gravel, coal dust and fibers. And, BNSF failed to provide ventilation, warnings and protection that constitute a safe work environment.
Two of the workers began work for the railroad in the 1940s and the other two in the 1960s. The effects of the unsafe labor conditions, especially over an extended period of time, took a toll on their bodies and went unnoticed for years. In cases similar to these, some of the symptoms include shortness of breath, chest tightness, chest pain and abnormal breathing patterns. The plaintiffs claim that thousands of men were exposed to similar conditions due to BNSF's negligence.