HomeNewsOhio Attorney General Sues Norfolk Southern Over East Palestine Train Derailment

Ohio Attorney General Sues Norfolk Southern Over East Palestine Train Derailment

by Samantha Whidden
Ohio Train Derailment
(Photo Credit: NTSB/Handout via Xinhua)

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost announced on Tuesday (March 14th) that the Buckeye State is filing a lawsuit against Norfolk Southern Railway over last month’s train derailment in East Palestine

According to ABC News, the 53-count complaint was filed in federal court against Norfolk Southern by the Ohio Attorney General. “This derailment was entirely avoidable,” Yost explained. “And I’m concerned that Norfolk Southern may be putting profits for their own company above the health and safety of the cities and communities that they operate in.” 

The derailment occurred on February 3rd. Nearly 50 cars of a Norfolk Southern freight train had derailed. The accident sent toxic chemicals into the air, soil, and nearby creeks. After evacuating residents around the derailment area, officials conducted a chemical release and burned toxic vinyl chloride. 

The Ohio Attorney General further revealed the lawsuit is seeking to address any economic and long-term health impacts on those in the area where the train derailment took place. He also disclosed that he sat down with Norfolk Southern officials the day before to discuss possible compensation. This included a fund to compensate for long-term losses to real estate values. He mentioned there would be funding to address any “delayed” health issues. 

“This lawsuit is designed to make sure that Norfolk Southern keeps their word to the people of East Palestine and the people of Ohio,” Yost continued. He also stated that is way too soon to determine the full extent of damages caused by the train derailment. Yost described the incident as being an “epic disaster” and the cleanup is going to be extensive. 

“It’s going to take some significant dollars to put the people of East Palestine back as close as possible to the position they were in before February 3rd,” Yost added. 

East Palestine Resident’s Train Derailment Class-Action Lawsuit Differs From the Ohio Suit 

Meanwhile, several East, Palestine Ohio residents have filed a class-action lawsuit against Norfolk Southern over the toxic train derailment. The residents are seeking punitive damages as well as a fund for medical monitoring and testing. Yost pointed out that the state’s lawsuit is focused on seeking damages to the “state of Ohio, to its environment, to its economy, as well as the broader damage to the people.” 

Yost further explained the lawsuits over the Ohio train derailment are about different “consequences” of the same fact. 

In a Washington Post op-ed, Norfolk Southern CEO, Alan Shaw, addressed the incident. He said that the company is not waiting to act while investigations continue. “We are firmly committed to the residents of East Palestine and the surrounding communities in Ohio and Pennsylvania,” he stated. The CEO said many people he’s met are angry, scared, and concerned for the future.

“I understand their skepticism that a big corporation such as Norfolk Southern will do the right thing,” he added. “And we are determined to earn their trust.”