Norfolk Southern Agrees in Principle to Settle East Palestine Derailment Class Action Lawsuit

Written by David C. Lester, Editor-in-Chief
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David C. Lester

ATLANTA –– Norfolk Southern Corporation announced Tuesday that it has reached a $600 million agreement in principle to resolve a consolidated class action lawsuit relating to the East Palestine derailment. If approved by the court, the agreement will resolve all class action claims within a 20-mile radius from the derailment and, for those residents who choose to participate, personal injury claims within a 10-mile radius from the derailment.

According to Norfolk Southern, “This is another promise kept by Norfolk Southern to make it right for the people of East Palestine and the surrounding communities.”

“In March 2023, the company made commitments to address three long-term concerns of residents: drinking water, home values, and healthcare. Already, the company has announced programs for drinking water and home value assurance. The company is going further through this comprehensive settlement—providing additional, significant monetary relief to individuals, including for healthcare, and to help qualifying local businesses continue to rebuild and grow.

“The agreement is designed to provide finality and flexibility for settlement class members.  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. This could include healthcare needs and medical monitoring, property restoration and diminution, and compensation for any net business loss. In addition, individuals within 10-miles of the derailment may, at their discretion, choose to receive additional compensation for any past, current, or future personal injury from the derailment.

The railroad said “This settlement furthers the work Norfolk Southern has done to make it right in East Palestine and the surrounding communities. In addition to this settlement, Norfolk Southern has made contributions including:

  • $104 million in community assistance to East Palestine and the surrounding areas in Ohio and Pennsylvania, including $25 million for a regional safety training center, $25 million in planned improvements to East Palestine’s city park, $21 million in direct payments to residents, and $9 million to local first responders;
  • $4.3 million to support upgrades to drinking water infrastructure;
  • $2 million for community-directed projects;
  • $500,000 grant for economic development; and
  • Ongoing support to the community through the Family Assistance Center and programs such as the Interim Value Assurance Program.

“This agreement does not include or constitute any admission of liability, wrongdoing, or fault. It was reached through extensive negotiations with court-appointed class counsel and with the expert assistance of former federal district judge Layn Phillips, a nationally renowned neutral mediator. It is expected to be submitted for preliminary approval to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio later in April 2024. Subject to final court approval, payments to class members under the settlement could begin by the end of this year. The actual allocations and payments to households, businesses, and individuals will be determined by court-appointed class counsel. Class members will soon receive additional details about the settlement, including the contact information for a Settlement Administrator to whom they can direct any questions and information regarding a Claims Assistance Center in East Palestine.”

If you’d like to learn more about the work NS is doing to aid the East Palestine community, check this NS website.

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