Feb 21, 2024


Ohio Train Derailment Lawsuit


February 15, 2023

Media Contact: Alex Storer (Morgan & Morgan) – PR@forthepeople.com / (814) 881-0344

Lawsuit alleges Norfolk Southern’s negligence led to “1-million-pound chemical burn pit”

[East Palestine, OH] – Following the Norfolk Southern train derailment and the subsequent environmental disaster in East Palestine, OH, a new lawsuit has been filed by Morgan & Morgan, America’s largest injury firm, which has successfully litigated cases in the wake of the 2015 Porter Ranch gas leak and the 2018 Merrimack Valley gas explosions.

The lawsuit alleges Norfolk Southern’s efforts to clean up and mitigate the calamity it allegedly caused have instead worsened the situation. After Norfolk Southern allegedly failed to extinguish the fires resulting from its derailment, it purportedly blew holes in the cars containing vinyl chloride, dumping 1.1 million pounds of vinyl chloride into the East Palestine, OH area. According to the EPA, this is more than double the amount of vinyl chloride all industrial emitters release in the United States — combined — over the course of a year. Vinyl chloride is a known carcinogen, to which there is no safe level of exposure.

“I’m not sure Norfolk Southern could have come up with a worse plan to address this disaster,” said attorney John Morgan. “Residents exposed to vinyl chloride may already be undergoing DNA mutations that could linger for years or even decades before manifesting as terrible and deadly cancers. The lawsuit alleges that Norfolk Southern made it worse by essentially blasting the town with chemicals as they focused on restoring train service and protecting their shareholders.”

The complaint goes on to allege that, rather than engaging in safer, more prudent and more costly efforts to properly contain and clean up the spill, Norfolk Southern chose a cheaper, less safe containment method — setting the spilled chemicals on fire, creating a 1-million-pound-plus chemical burn pit, and releasing Phosgene Gas into the atmosphere. Phosgene gas is a deadly chemical warfare agent banned under the Geneva Protocol.

“From chemicals that cause nausea and vomiting to a substance responsible for the majority of chemical warfare deaths during World War I, the people of East Palestine and the surrounding communities are facing an unprecedented array of threats to their health,” said Morgan & Morgan attorneys Frank Petosa and Rene Rocha. “While the lives impacted by this wholly preventable catastrophe may never be the same, we are committed to holding Norfolk Southern accountable for its actions and inactions and securing justice for those whose lives have been disrupted and remain in danger.”

Plaintiffs are seeking relief including, but not limited to, medical monitoring, injunctive and declaratory relief, punitive damages, and damages related to injuries, emotional distress, loss of property value, and increased risks of future illness.

Morgan & Morgan has extensive experience fighting for people harmed by man-made environmental disasters. The firm has successfully litigated against major corporations in cases including the 2010 BP/Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the 2015 Porter Ranch gas well blowout in California, and the Merrimack Valley gas explosions in Massachusetts in 2018, among others.

The class action lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio Eastern Division, Youngstown, Case No. 4:23-cv-00298. 

About Morgan & Morgan

As America’s largest injury law firm, Morgan & Morgan has recovered more than $15 billion for over 300,000 clients. Throughout the United States, our attorneys fulfill our “For The People'' commitment in over 50 practice areas, including national mass torts and class actions, labor and employment, civil rights, and product liability, among many others. We co-counsel with hundreds of other law firms, who refer thousands of cases to us. Our firm has taken on some of the biggest corporations across the globe, including BP, Facebook, Google, Monsanto, and Lockheed Martin, and recovered billions in complex national litigation, including $1.8 billion in the Porter Ranch Gas Leak case in 2021. Learn more at www.forthepeople.com.