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February 17, 2023

Toxic Ohio Train Derailment Spurs Multiple Lawsuits

Rescuer with protective suit exploring danger area

Two weeks ago, a Norfolk Southern Railway train was passing through the small town of East Palestine, Ohio, when it derailed. The train was transporting chemicals, which caused a dangerous and massive fire for first responders to contend with. Emergency crews used a controlled burn against a carcinogenic chemical known as vinyl chloride to put out the blaze and reduce the risk of an explosion. Since then, widespread reports of dead wildlife, toxic fumes, and contamination continue to pour in.

When dealing with a complicated train accident scene like this, investigating the facts is paramount. To the residents of East Palestine who have to face the health risks daily, the perceived lack of response from Norfolk Southern thus far is deafening.

What Caused the Ohio Train Accident?

During the night of February 3, 2023, a Norfolk Southern train was passing through the small town of East Palestine, Ohio, on its way to Pennsylvania. Of the nearly 150 freight cars the train was pulling, an estimated 10 were carrying potentially toxic chemicals, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said in a press conference. The cause of the derailment has yet to be determined as investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) continue to process the scene.

What Toxic Chemicals Was the Train Carrying?

One of the cars carried the hazardous gas vinyl chloride, used in manufacturing PVC plastics and other products. Vinyl chloride is a carcinogen and the CDC reports that inhaling the gas can cause respiratory irritation, chemical bronchitis, liver damage, and even cancer. Emergency crews decided to use a controlled burn on the blaze to prevent an explosion and further contamination. That burn produced a terrible plume of black smoke which residents said smelled like burning rubber and burned the eyes.

How Has the Train Crash Impacted Local Residents?

Despite reassurances from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other government agencies that air and water samples are relatively safe, many residents are finding that hard to believe. Reports abound of headaches and dizziness among residents and thousands of dead fish in local waterways.

Complicating matters further is what many residents see as an inadequate response thus far from Norfolk Southern. The company was supposed to have a Town Hall recently to help assuage concerns; and yet, hours before the event they pulled out. The abrupt cancellation has only increased residents’ fears that concern for their health and safety isn’t being taken seriously.

Class-Action Lawsuits Filed Against Norfolk Southern

As of the penning of this article, at least four class-action lawsuits have been filed against Norfolk Southern railways for their role in the derailment. Residents who were exposed to toxic substances or who have undergone severe emotional distress demand compensation. These people didn’t choose to be in the middle of this firestorm. And because of the potential negligence of Norfolk Southern, many may be facing a long health battle or may have to leave the place they call home because it’s no longer safe to live there.

When our accident attorneys look at a case, we look at all the costs, including what our firm calls the “human costs.” Often an insurance company wants to overlook these, but to the victim, the costs are something they have to live with every day. It may be the loss of a hobby you’re not able to do or less time spent with loved ones, but these costs are very real—and something we’ll gladly do battle over to make sure our clients receive.

We Fight Those Who Put Profits Over People Every. Single. Day.

Disasters like the train derailment in Ohio showcase front and center what can happen to everyday Americans who suddenly face a terrible situation through no fault of their own. From being rear-ended by a tractor-trailer to slipping in a big department store, we hear big corporations try to downplay what happened to our clients daily.

Being “client-first” means exactly that—we put our clients’ needs first in everything we do. We have a full team of investigators and crash experts we can utilize to prove what our clients say happened really did. So if you’ve been hurt and simply need someone to listen to what you have to say, please reach out to our team. You’ll always have a friendly, knowledgeable Farah and Farah representative available to outline the options you may have and help you decide where to go from here.

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