State of Ohio Files Lawsuit Against Norfolk Southern

State of Ohio Files Lawsuit Against Norfolk Southern

In addition to the many people affected by the East Palestine train derailment, the State of Ohio itself has also filed a lawsuit against Norfolk Southern for its role in the disaster. Tens of thousands of gallons of hazardous chemicals that spilled from the train are now a part of that environment and will influence the health and safety of the surrounding populace for decades to come.

Norfolk Southern will be held accountable for this disaster that could have been avoided had they taken appropriate action. This latest addition of a state lawsuit against Norfolk Southern indicates the intent of not just the populace but also the government to ensure that Norfolk Southern faces consequences and is true to their word in ensuring that those affected by its negligence are made whole again.

Ohio Attorney General Files Train Derailment Lawsuit

Dave Yost, the Ohio Attorney General has said that the state is filing a lawsuit against Norfolk Southern in the U.S. district court in Columbus. The Attorney General stated that the intent of the state lawsuit is “to hold Norfolk Southern financially responsible” for their role in the train derailment and environmental disaster in East Palestine, Ohio.  

The derailment has created a harrowing situation for the state financially. The cost of the Norfolk Southern train’s derailment has placed an immense burden on the state of Ohio which is now seeking compensation for the expense generated by the response, cleanup, lost taxes, and court fees, and economic damage. 

The state of Ohio has cited Norfolk southern with 58 counts of violating the state’s common laws as well as federal and state environmental laws, including provisions related to hazardous waste and water and air pollution. The lawsuit goes on to also allege that the Norfolk Southern derailment in East Palestine also released toxic chemicals from at least 39 rail cars into local waterways such as the Ohio River.

Seeking financial compensation for the damages generated by the derailment is not all Ohio is seeking from the Lawsuit against Norfolk Southern. Ohio has requested the court to require Norfolk Southern to also conduct future monitoring of the soil and groundwater at the derailment location and submit a closure plan to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. 

Norfolk Southern’s Response to the Ohio Lawsuit

The lawsuit against Norfolk Southern by the state of Ohio has led the transportation corporation to respond with a statement that it has met with Attorney General Yost and others to develop three additional programs that would address long-term concerns. 

The proposed programs would include a long-term medical compensation fund for addressing potential health risks caused by the disaster, a program to provide safe drinking water, and a program to help local property owners in the event that property values plummet. 

Additional Train Derailment Lawsuits Against Norfolk Southern 

This lawsuit by the state of Ohio is only the latest in a slew of lawsuits filed against Norfolk Southern after the train derailment n East Palestine. Once it became clear that the pollution generated by the derailment’s dumping of chemicals into the ground, air, and water would be a genuine health concern, many sought legal advice and assistance in carrying out litigation. 

Class action lawsuits have since been filed against Norfolk Southern with the assistance of several notable law firms with many more likely to be added to the pile. The litigation against Norfolk Southern is expected to result in substantial losses for the company while providing those harmed with the means to rectify the harm done to them by the rampant pollution.

The East Palestine Train Derailment Disaster

February 3, 2023, saw Norfolk Southern’s 149-car, 9,000-foot train 32N traveling from Madison, Illinois to Conway, Pennsylvania derail near the small town of East Palestine, Ohio. according to investigations of the accident, the derailment occurred due to an overheated wheel bearing on the train’s 23rd railcar.

The train operators activated the brakes when the sensor notified them of the overheated bearing but by then it was too late. 38 train cars derailed before 9 pm and caused a fire that further damaged 12 other cars and compromised the various hazardous chemicals being transported.

The Pollution Caused by The Norfolk Southern Train Derailment

Eleven of the 50 railcars damaged in the derailment contained hazardous chemicals. These chemicals consisted of vinyl chloride, ethylhexyl acrylate, butyl acrylate, and isobutylene. The majority of the chemicals released from the derailed cars was vinyl chloride.

First responders were not initially aware of the chemical danger the derailment posed and discovered the extent of leaked chemicals had caused significant runoff. The derailment also caused a situation that put the cars containing vinyl chloride at risk of exploding unless they were vented and then underwent a controlled burn. 

Despite the controlled burn being a less hazardous option, it still would send up a smoke plume large enough to be visible for miles around releasing particulates and harmful chemical byproducts.

The Damage to the Populace as a Result of the East Palestine Train Derailment

The extent of the pollution caused by the East Palestine train derailment is still under investigation but one thing is clear. The sheer amount of toxic chemicals that either entered the environment through runoff or through the controlled burn has caused significant concern and even symptoms among the populace of East Palestine.

The amount of vinyl chloride that entered the environment in East Palestine is greater than the amount released as a byproduct of certain industries over years. Some organizations that responded to the disaster have stated that their measurements of pollutants in the air and water are within safe parameters but residents and some private organizations believe that it is too soon to assume there is no danger. 

Health Concerns Raised Regarding Derailment Pollution

Residents are primarily concerned about the health risks this disaster will pose in the long term. Many have reported respiratory symptoms and rashes with the majority of people reporting a strong chemical smell. 

The pollutants leaked by the derailed train are well-known carcinogens capable of significantly increasing cancer risk. Pollution involving these chemicals in smaller amounts is already linked to health issues in nearby exposed populations. Assuming the derailment’s pollution levels that are many times these other areas' will cause issues is a fair conclusion to reach. 

Filing an East Palestine Train Derailment Lawsuit Against Norfolk Southern

If you or a loved one have developed health issues tied to the pollution caused by the East Palestine train derailment then you may be entitled to compensation. Many residents in the area of East Palestine have filed lawsuits against Norfolk Southern to seek compensation for damages inflicted by the disaster like medical bills, lost wages, and even pain and suffering. 

Consider speaking to a personal injury lawyer about what legal options are available to you in order to hold Norfolk Southern accountable for their negligence. Reaching out to an experienced personal injury attorney can mean the difference between continued financial turmoil and fair restitution through a train derailment lawsuit to get your life back on track. 


Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has represented over 11,000 injury victims and has served as lead counsel in over 1000 lawsuits. Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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