Ohio Train Derailment Leading to Toxic Chemicals Now Leads to Lawsuits

Along the Ohio-Pennsylvania line in East Palestine, Ohio, a derailed train led to not only a fiery train crash, but a line up of over 50 cars crashing behind it. Within these cars were hazardous materials being transported, now filtering through the air of East Palestine. 

Fourteen of the tankers following behind the train were carrying vinyl chloride, a chemical used in PVC. The thousand of gallons of vinyl chloride now spilled causes great concern for the air quality and danger of those in the area. 

Lawsuits and the fight for a class action suit against Norfolk Southern Railway have been set in motion due to their accused negligence. 

Symptoms and Effects of The Event

The symptoms of inhaling vinyl chloride include: dizziness, fatigue, and a headache. Long-term effects however prove that vinyl chloride is a brain, blood, lung, and liver carcinogenic. The Ohio Department of Health even states that breathing in vinyl chloride can result in death. 

Due to vinyl chloride being flammable at just 8 degrees Fahrenheit, authorities pursued controlling the situation by not transporting away the chemical, but burning it. 

The burning of the chemical to remove it from the area evoked a new problem of hydrochloric acid and phosgene, a very toxic gas, billowing into the air. Although a portion of East Palestine residents were evacuated, those still residing were reported to feel all of the effects of the numerous toxic chemicals filling the air. 

The CDC notes that being exposed and breathing in phosgene gas can cause symptoms including:

  • Coughing
  • Burning sensation in the throat and eyes
  • Watery eyes
  • Blurred Vision
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea and vomiting 
  • Burns or frostbite if skin to skin contact occurs 

If large exposure or prolonged inhalation of hydrochloric acid occurs, the following symptoms may manifest:

  • Irritation and ulceration in the upper respiratory tract
  • Coughing
  • Chest tightness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Choking

Lawsuits Filed Against Norfolk Southern

According to court records, several class action lawsuits have already been filed against Norfolk Southern for the incident. These suits claim that Norfolk Southern was negligent in maintaining and operating the railways before the accident occurred on February 3, 2023. 

Not only negligence, but one Virginia based suit claimed that Norfolk Southern failed to timely provide the public that vinyl chloride was infiltrating the air, which should have been done immediately. 

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

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.

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3 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.

    CDC | Facts About Phosgene. (n.d.). https://emergency.cdc.gov/agent/phosgene/basics/facts.asp#:~:text=Blurred%20vision,those%20from%20frostbite%20or%20burns

  2. 2.

    Health Protection Agency. (n.d.). Hydrogen chloride / hydrochloric acid Toxicological overview.

  3. 3.

    Ohio Department of Health  [Bureau of Environmental Health and Radiation Protection]. (n.d.). Vinyl Chloride Answers to Frequently Asked Questions.

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