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W&L Files Lawsuit Over Ohio Train Derailment Disaster

March 1, 2023
Home Firm News W&L Files Lawsuit Over Ohio Train Derailment Disaster

UPDATE 4-9-2024: Counsel for the plaintiffs announced that Norfolk Southern Corp. has agreed to a settlement for $600 million for the East Palestine, Ohio train derailment and toxic chemical spill. The final terms of the deal are ongoing; the settlement will also resolve claims against railcar lessors GATX Corp., OxyVinyls LP, and Trinity Industries Leasing Co.

UPDATE 4-6-2023: James Bilsborrow was appointed by the Court to the Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee to oversee the case on behalf of all those affected by the East Palestine train derailment. Weitz & Luxenberg has filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of victims of a freight train derailment in Ohio earlier this month. The derailment led to a noxious fire, as well as the combustion of hundreds of thousands of pounds of toxic chemicals.

The derailment occurred on February 3, 2023, in East Palestine, Ohio, not far from the Pennsylvania border. The Norfolk Southern Railway Company train, 32N, was transporting a host of toxic chemicals and combustible substances including:

  • Polyvinyl.
  • Polyethylene.
  • Butyl acrylate.
  • Ethylhexyl acrylate.
  • Ethylene glycol monobutyl ether.
  • Vinyl chloride, a flammable gas.

Some of these chemicals combusted and burned for several days. The toxic chemical fire spewed thick, dark, billowing smoke. The fire and gases released into the air spread throughout East Palestine and the surrounding areas.

Government officials from both Ohio and Pennsylvania ordered all residents and businesses within a mile of the derailment to evacuate. Roughly 2,000 East Palestine residents may have suffered severe injury on numerous counts due to the negligence of this railway company.

Gross Negligence Lawsuit Against Norfolk Southern

W&L has filed a lawsuit against the Norfolk Southern Corporation and Norfolk Southern Railway Company. The railway company should have known that burning hundreds of thousands of pounds of volatile substances is dangerous. The company’s actions pose a threat to human health, as well as contaminating homes and communities. Residents have also reported dead fish and frogs.

Our attorneys intend to hold Norfolk Southern Railway Company, a subsidiary of Norfolk Southern Corporation, accountable. Norfolk Southern Railway Company is incorporated in Virginia. Its principal place of business is Atlanta, Georgia.

Health and Homes in Danger After Derailment

“This has been a horrific experience for our clients,” says James Bilsborrow, a partner at W&L and co-chair of our firm’s Environmental, Toxic Tort, & Consumer Protection practice group. “Without warning, noxious gases and chemical fumes invaded our clients’ homes and neighborhood. These chemicals are polluting the air they breathe — along with their groundwater, drinking water, and soil.

“Not only has their health potentially been compromised, but also — for many — their properties have also been contaminated. These chemicals have driven people from their homes at their own expense. And when they return, they face an uncertain future. These gases and fumes have the potential to continue to plague residents for months or even years to come,” Mr. Bilsborrow emphasizes.

Railway Failed to Exercise Due Care

The initial train derailment was due to the Norfolk Southern Railway Company’s failure to exercise due care. And if it had taken appropriate actions following that primary event, further damage could have been prevented. Instead, the company took actions making the situation worse.

Even before the derailment itself, the train car was sparking and burning while 20 miles outside of East Palestine. Shortly afterwards, an alarm signaling a mechanical defect sounded. A wheel bearing overheated and failed. Roughly 40 cars derailed. A fire started. Then 12 additional cars were damaged.

The initial fire resulted in the combustion and burning of a number of toxic chemicals. Safety valves on pressurized tanks opened from the heat. Vinyl chloride gases spewed from those tanks.

Norfolk Southern Railway Makes a Bad Event Worse

Instead of taking steps to minimize further destruction, the railway company chose to puncture holes in the containers filled with vinyl chloride. The chemical was discharged and then set on fire. These dangerous fumes spread quickly — affecting people and wildlife alike with noxious smoke and vapors.

There is no safe level of exposure to vinyl chloride for humans, or likely for wildlife as well. Even minor exposure can lead to DNA mutations down the line. These mutations can lead to cancer and other serious diseases.

Fighting for Victims of East Palestine, Ohio

Weitz & Luxenberg can help if you are being injured by the Norfolk Southern Railway Company derailment and its aftermath. Reach out to us at (833) 977-3437 if you are a resident in or near East Palestine, Ohio.

W&L has filed a class action lawsuit against the responsible parties, so we are encouraging victims to contact us. You may be able to join our suit and seeks appropriate compensation for:

  • Health injuries.
  • Property damage.
  • Emotional and psychological trauma.
  • Disruption of your daily life and violation of your private property.
  • Hotel and other expenses you had to pay because you were ordered to evacuate your community.
  • Future injury to your health and ongoing property damage due to lasting effects of environmental toxins.

W&L has a long history of standing up to large environmental, corporate offenders and winning. We aim to hold irresponsible companies accountable for their reckless, negligent actions.

We want to make sure all victims of environmental catastrophes receive appropriate compensation. Call us today, so you can be one of the people we help.

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