News & Reviews News Wire First lawsuit filed over Ohio derailment; evacuation continues

First lawsuit filed over Ohio derailment; evacuation continues

By Trains Staff | February 8, 2023

| Last updated on February 6, 2024

Residents briefly allowed into evacuation zone to retrieve or care for pets

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Black cloud of smoke above town
Smoke during Monday’s controlled release of chemicals at the East Palestine derailment. Bazetta, Ohio, Fire Department, via Facebook

EAST PALESTINE, Ohio — The first lawsuit has been filed in the wake of last week’s derailment of a Norfolk Southern train and the subsequent fire and evacuation.

WFMJ-TV reports residents and a business owner in the evacuation area have filed a class-action civil liability suit in U.S. District Court against Norfolk Southern, alleging negligence, nuisance, and trespass as a result of the 50-car derailment that occurred Feb. 3 and led to an ongoing evacuation.

Harold Feezle says in the complaint filed Tuesday that the derailment forced him to close his business, which the station has identified as a used-car dealership, while residents David and Susan Scheufele say they were evacuated from their home, with David Schuefele suffering injuries from toxic chemicals and fumes from the crash site.

The suit from a Cleveland personal-injury law firm alleges the derailment was caused by NS negligence in operation of the train and defects in the track and one or more rail cars. It asks a judge to allow others to become plaintiffs if they lived within two miles of the accident site and were forced to evacuate or were exposed to toxic substances.

The station also reports that pet owners living within a mile of the derailment were allowed back into the evacuation area briefly by members of the Ohio National Guard to pick or check on pets left behind, although there is still no timeline for a full lifting of the evacuation order. Officials continue to conduct monitoring within a one-mile radius of the derailment site, and will offer optional testing within homes for those who want it, according to James Justice of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. “At this time, we don’t know what decontamination or cleaning will be needed until that happens,” Justice said.

After a Tuesday press conference that reportedly became testy with repeated questions when the evacuation would end, East Palestine Mayor Trent Conaway made a plea for patience, according to the Business Journal Daily of Youngstown.

“We’re a small little Ohio town. We’re doing the best we can,” Conaway said. “Frustration levels are high for everyone. Everyone is tired. …

“I hate that we had to put residents out of their homes. Nobody likes that. Please be patient. We’re working diligently. Hopefully by [today] we have some answers. I can’t promise anything. I just beg of you to just give us some time. We’re working this out as soon as possible.”


11 thoughts on “First lawsuit filed over Ohio derailment; evacuation continues

  1. Perhaps NS should pull-up every inch of track it has in Ohio. I’m sure “the people” wouldn’t miss it one bit.

  2. The fires aren’t even out and vultures (Lawyers) are descending on the town.

    I have no problem in filing a lawsuit but Let them finish investigating what happened. When the cause is found then proceed. Worst part about all this is that the lawyers will get a minimum of 35% but more like 50% in the settlement and the individuals that were affected get the shaft.

  3. It’s premature lawsuits like this that give the legal profession the reputation of being like vultures circulating over accident scenes scanning for the deepest pocket defendants!

  4. I guess we no longer need the FRA or STB investigate railroad accidents as a “law firm” from Cleveland has already determined the cause of this wreck.

    1. I didn’t think NTSB findings of cause of accidents could be used as evidence in suits?

  5. I do not understand the legal system in the United States. Is it nothing but lawsuits followed by bankruptcy. Good work if you can find it, and live with yourself after.

  6. Notice it is a law firm from Cleveland. They probably got lost trying to find the place and ended up in Pennsylvania.

  7. Wow it took 5 days to file the first lawsuit. What happened couldn’t the lawyers find that small town in Ohio. All they had to do was look for the smoke.

    1. Back in my day railroads blew up towns left and right. And you couldn’t do thing about. We liked it! We loved it! Glory, alleluia the railroad’s turned our town into a toxic, bomb crater again!!!

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