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Federal District Court Blocks Norfolk Southern’s Efforts to Dismiss East Palestine Residents’ Lawsuit


On March 13, 2024, United States District Court Judge Benita Pearson issued two rulings denying motions filed by Norfolk Southern and other Defendants seeking to dismiss, in its entirety, the class action lawsuit brought by residents of East Palestine, Ohio seeking to recover damages for the catastrophic train derailment that occurred in the city on February 3, 2023.

In denying the motions the Judge found, among other things, that:

  • Image1-East_Palestine“The First Amended Complaint sufficiently details Norfolk Southern’s alleged specific actionable gross misconduct that caused serious and permanent harm to residents of East Palestine and surrounding communities.”  
  • “Plaintiffs have sufficiently alleged a claim for strict liability in Count II on Norfolk Southern engaging in abnormally dangerous activities, including transporting over a million pounds of hazardous chemicals and intentionally setting fire to them in a residential neighborhood.” 
  • “Plaintiffs have been affected differently from those falling outside the proposed classes as the nuisance has caused an interference with rights of their personal health, business, and/or property.” 
  • “Plaintiffs have adequately detailed Norfolk Southern’s alleged recklessness and conscious disregard for the rights and safety of others pre- and post-derailment to support their request for punitive damages.”

These rulings represent a substantial initial victory for all residents affected by the East Palestine Train Derailment. In ruling as the Court has, it has determined that the Plaintiffs have sufficiently detailed valid claims against Norfolk Southern and the other defendants. As such, the Court is permitting the case to proceed so that more evidence can be collected for presentation at the forthcoming trial.

Plakas Mannos is proud to have contributed to preparing the briefing on behalf of the residents that led to these important decisions and looks forward to continuing the fight to do justice for the people of East Palestine.

Learn more about our work with Environmental Toxic Tort cases and reach out today with any questions.

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