The lawsuit, which is seeking class action certification, contends that CSX Transportation failed to ensure that its tracks and trains were in good condition.
A federal lawsuit asserts that a recent CSX Transportation derailment in Kentucky was the end-result of longstanding negligence.
According to ABC News, the derailment occurred at 2:30pm on November 22nd, just outside the town of Livingston. Residents were asked to evacuate their homes a day before Thanksgiving. They were allowed to return later the next day, shortly after a related fire was extinguished.
“CSX encourages residents in proximity to the incident who are concerned about their safety to utilize the lodging that the company has secured in Mt. Vernon, KY,” CSX said in a statement during the initial evacuation and clean-up. “In addition to the hotels, the CSX team is working with local restaurants to provide meals for affected restaurants.”
An initial investigation by CSX suggests that the derailment was caused by a failed wheel bearing.
Now, Morgan & Morgan attorneys—who filed the prospective class action on behalf of affected Livingston residents—say that the disaster could have been averted if the rail company had better monitored the train’s bearings and placed noise detectors along the track.
“Because of CSX’s alleged recklessness and negligence in monitoring the train’s wheel bearings, they’ve created a potentially deadly environment for all residents living in the surrounding area of Rockcastle County,” attorney Jean Martin said.
CSX, for its part, said that it continues to support area residents as it reviews the lawsuit’s allegations.
“We pride ourselves on being a safe railroad and in the rare occurrence of an incident like the one in Livingston, KY, we respond quickly, prioritizing safety and supporting recovery of the community,” CSX said in a statement.
ABC News notes that two of the 16 cars that derailed were carrying molten sulfur, which caught fire upon or shortly after impact. The lawsuit states that exposure to sulfur dioxide can cause a wide range of medical problems, ranging from severe breathing difficulties to life-threatening damage to the respiratory system.
The two women currently named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit—Lauren Webb, and Debbie Francisco—live less than two miles from the site of the incident. In their complaint, attorneys say that their clients’ homes were covered in toxic smoke, endangering families and creating potential long-term health risks.
“Webb has suffered and continues to suffer from a sore throat, trouble breathing, headaches, and a respiratory infection since her exposure to the toxins released from the CSX train derailment,” the lawsuit claims.
The prospective class action seeks unspecified damages, repayment of legal fees, and funding for a medical monitoring program.