BNSF Settles Lawsuit With Private Landowners After 2018 Derailment

Written by Jennifer McLawhorn, Managing Editor
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BNSF Railway

SIOUX CITY, Iowa – The terms of the settlement have not been disclosed as of reporting, but BNSF has reportedly settled the lawsuit from the Kooima family over a 2018 derailment.

BNSF has settled a lawsuit with landowners in the Doon area after damage caused to their property in 2018, according to a report from KIWA. A preliminary report from the NTSB shows that on June 22, 2018, a southbound BNSF freight train derailed at around 4:35 a.m. The train, which consisted of 2 head-end locomotives, 2 head-end buffer cars, 98 tank cars, 1 rear-end buffer car, and 1 trailing distributed power unit locomotive, was travelling around 48 mph when the emergency brake system was applied. 10 tank cars “were breached, releasing about 160,000 gallons of crude oil.” In addition, the area received between 5-7 inches of rain two days before the derailment which washed out track and flooded “a tributary of the Little Rock River and farm fields adjacent to the derailment location.”

The landowners, the Kooima family, sued BNSF, and the federal court documents allege that BNSF was aware that the area was “flooded out, improperly maintained, not properly inspected and were unsafe. Despite such awareness, [BNSF] ordered its employees to operate its train over this section of the track, and as a result, thirty-five tank cars carrying hazardous materials derailed, with many of the tanker cars breaching and spewing its hazardous material into the air, water, and ground.” The Kooima family property was said to have suffered “permanent loss of value.” 

While the lawsuit was set to go to trial in 2025, an “order of case settlement” was filed last month with a “stipulation of dismissal last week.” This closed the case, and as of reporting, the terms of the settlement have not been disclosed. 

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