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Verdicts & Settlements

Norfolk Southern to Pay $600m to Settle East Palestine Derailment Claims

— April 10, 2024

Some East Palestine residents have voiced concerns that, after legal fees are deducted, local families may not be left with enough money to guarantee their well-being.

Norfolk Southern has agreed to pay an estimated $600 million to settle claims stemming from a highly-publicized train derailment near East Palestine, Ohio, in 2023.

According to National Public Radio, the terms of the settlement permit Norfolk Southern to deny any wrongdoing or liability for the fiery derailment.

The accident, adds N.P.R., involved the derailment of 11 train cars carrying hazardous chemicals. The ensuing fires and toxic emissions forced more than 2,000 of East Palestine’s 4,900 residents to evacuate.

The proposed agreement, if approved, would settle all class-action claims for persons within a 20-mile radius of the derailment, as well as many personal injury claims from within a 10-mile radius.

“Individuals and businesses will be able to use compensation from the settlement in any manner they see fit to address potential adverse impacts from the derailment,” Norfolk Southern said in a statement. “This could include healthcare needs and medical monitoring, property restoration and diminution, and compensation for any net business loss.”

Attorneys for some of the plaintiffs said they expect the agreement to provide “substantial compensation” to residents and businesses alike.

Scales of Justice. Image via Flickr/user:mikecogh. (CCA-BY-2.0).

James Conroy, a lead attorney for the class, said that the proposed settlement is “much larger than any derailment settlement in the United States.”

“We believe this is a fair, reasonable, and adequate result for the community on a number of levels, not the least of which is the speed of the resolution, and the overall amount of the awards residents can expect, which will be significant for those most impacted by the derailment,” attorneys said in a statement, which was issued on behalf of the law firms Simpson Eldredge Hersh & Jardine, Grant & Eisenhofer, Simmons Hanly Conroy, and Morgan & Morgan.

Lawyers for class members and personal injury claimants said that individual awards will be allotted with respect to several factors, including proximity to the derailment, the length of any displacement from their home, and presumed exposure to toxic contaminants.

Some residents, though, have shared concerns about the size of the proposed settlement.

“It’s not nowhere near my needs, let alone what the health effects are going to be five or 10 years down the road,” said East Palestine resident Eric Cozza told The Associated Press.

Cozza, at the time of the derailment, had lived fewer than three blocks from the accident site—and had more than 47 family members living within a mile.

Misti Allison, another East Palestine resident, told The Associated Press that she fears the deduction of legal fees and other expenses from the settlement could leave families without the resources they need for recovery.

“What goes through my head is—after all the lawyers are paid and legal fees are accounted for—how much funding will be provided for families?” Allison said in an interview with The Associated Press. “And is that going to be enough for any of these potential damages moving forward?”


Norfolk Southern agrees to $600M settlement in fiery Ohio derailment. Locals fear it’s not enough

Norfolk Southern agrees to pay $600 million to settle Ohio derailment lawsuit

Norfolk Southern reaches $600M settlement more than a year after Ohio train derailment

Norfolk Southern will pay $600 million to settle East Palestine derailment lawsuit

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