25 Years Of Practice

Court Grants Preliminary Approval of Norfolk Southern Train Derailment Settlement

More than 30 different class action lawsuits filed against Norfolk Southern as a result of the devastating February 3, 2023 train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, have been consolidated before Judge Benita Pearson of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio. The lead case is Feezle v. Norfolk Southern Railway Co. N.D. Ohio No. 4:23-cv-00242. The plaintiffs in the lawsuits are local residents and businesses seeking compensation for property damage, ongoing medical monitoring for the community, and punitive damages against the railroad company. On April 5, 2023, Judge Pearson selected a prestigious slate of plaintiffs’ attorneys to lead the consolidated litigation. The firms appointed include some of the largest and most respected plaintiff law firms in the country. Of the many well-qualified attorneys seeking a leadership role in the litigation, the Court appointed Jeffrey Goldenberg of Goldenberg Schneider to the Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee.

On May 21, 2024, Judge Pearson granted preliminary approval to a $600 million settlement covering class claims from residents, businesses and property owners, and other plaintiffs who alleged numerous harms such as lost income, property damage, contamination at residences and workplaces, and increased risk of serious and potentially fatal illnesses including cancer and organ damage necessitating ongoing medical monitoring. The settlement aims to resolve all class claims — for negligence, strict liability, nuisance and trespass — within a 20-mile radius of the derailment, as well as personal injury claims from participating residents within a 10-mile radius of the derailment. Judge Pearson said in a Tuesday order that the deal is fair, reasonable, adequate, entered into in good faith, and free from collusion. She also determined that the “relief provided for in the settlement agreement outweighs the substantial costs, delay, and risks presented by further prosecution of issues during pre-trial, trial, and possible appeal.”

The preliminary approval clears the way for attorneys to begin notifying class members and get the claims process started. A final approval hearing before Judge Pearson is scheduled for Sept. 25, 2024.