Norfolk Southern Class Action Suits for East Palestine Train Derailment

Norfolk Southern Train Derailment: A Legal Overview

The Norfolk Southern train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, led to a series of class action lawsuits. The derailment resulted in hazardous chemicals spilling into the surrounding environment, leading to severe consequences for residents. The chemical spill contaminated the water supply and affected the air quality, causing health concerns among the local community. The spilled chemical, butyl acrylate, is particularly difficult to handle because it can be absorbed into water, putting the water supply for residents of Ohio and West Virginia at risk. Several lawsuits have been filed against Norfolk Southern, accusing them of causing more harm than good during the cleanup of the spill. If you have been affected by this incident, you may be entitled to compensation for property damage, economic loss, emotional distress, inconvenience, and medical costs. Retaining a law firm with experience in mass tort actions, class action lawsuits, or other complicated litigation can be beneficial to your case.

In the beginning of February in East Palestine, Ohio, a Norfolk Southern train derailment was the central cause for tankers transporting hazardous chemicals to spill. To clean up this massive chemical spill, the chemicals were burnt off causing billows of dangerous smoke to surround the area. 

Now, a closer look is being taken at the water supply of East Palestine and the surrounding areas, how many more civilians should have been evacuated from their homes, and the long-term effects these chemicals will hold on those affected. 

Tainted Water Supply

Butyl acrylate, a chemical used in PVC, is the main chemical that was spilled in the derailment. This chemical is especially difficult to handle due to its ability of being absorbed into water, affecting the water streams near the crash and therefore putting water supply for residents of Ohio and West Virginia at risk.  

On February 16, 2023, the EPA released new findings including test results of the stream that showed the chemical is, “currently present at levels below 3 parts per billion, which is well below the 560 parts per billion that the CDC considers hazardous.”

Due to this absorption, the chemical has slipped past dams and has now seeped into the Ohio River. To monitor the chemical levels, the EPA is testing at multiple locations along the river while also, “closing drinking water intakes in advance of the plume to prevent any butyl acrylate from entering the drinking water.” The consequences of an individual ingesting the chemical come with a multitude of symptoms such as:

  • Burning sensation
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sore throat 

This clearing from the EPA has not settled the minds of residents as now their pets have been succumbing to the effects of the water contamination. Many dogs and wildlife have been taken to local humane societies for help as they show signs of vomiting, lack of appetite, and neurological symptoms that have led to euthanasia. 

Air Quality After Contamination

After the burn of chemicals to clear the site, many residents were raising alarms of extreme concern for the air quality and how much of the chemicals had penetrated their homes. In the EPA’s latest update, it has been noted that levels of the chemical have been decreased to a non-hazardous level. 

This comes after individuals noted a lingering smell of the contaminants in the air which was said to be normal and still non-hazardous by the EPA. Although residents were given the allowance of returning home after being evacuated, many are claiming to still be experiencing burning eyes and difficulty breathing due to the air conditions. 

Butyl acrylate can cause delayed symptoms of hypersensitivity when exposed to the chemical, especially when the chemical has been inhaled. 

In studies testing the effects of continued exposure and inhalation of butyl acrylate, the results showed that cornification of the trachea and bronchi in the throat were present and the risk of pneumonia was elevated. 

Implications of the Norfolk Southern Train Derailment

New lawsuits filed against Norfolk Southern included the accusation that the attempted clean up of the spill caused more harm than good. The last filed lawsuit became the sixth against Norfolk Southern. 

Legal Rights of Those Affected By Norfolk Southern

Plaintiffs in previously filed suits are seeking compensation from having to endure:

  • Property damage
  • Economic loss
  • Emotional distress and discomfort 
  • Inconvenience 
  • Medical costs

Legal Consultation for Norfolk Southern Derailment Victims

If you have endured any of the above or have been caused more extensive damage from the incident caused by Norfolk Southern, you may be entitled to compensation. 

Retaining a law firm to assist with filing and following through with a lawsuit against Norfolk Southern can be extremely beneficial to you and your case. Finding a law firm that has experience with mass tort actions, class action lawsuits, or other complicated litigation can also be beneficial to the outcome of your case.

Related Posts

4 Cited Research Articles

Our writers follow rigorous sourcing guidelines and cite only trustworthy sources of information, including peer-reviewed journals, court records, academic organizations, highly regarded nonprofit organizations, government reports and interviews with qualified experts.

  1. 1.

    Butyl Acrylate –

  2. 2.

    “Butyl Acrylate.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. PubChem Compound Database, U.S. National Library of Medicine,

  3. 3.

    “East Palestine Update – 2/16/23 1:15 P.m.” East Palestine Update – 2/16/23 1:15 P.m.,

  4. 4.

    Tyler, Tipton R. Health Effect Assessments of the Basic Acrylates. CRC Press, 1993.

View All Sources