According to news sources, the plaintiffs in 21 lawsuits filed against Norfolk Southern over the Feb. 3 East Palestine derailment have agreed to consolidate the lawsuits into one action with an amended, consolidated class-action complaint being filed in the coming months. The number of lawsuits grew from 18 to 22 since Judge Benita Y. Pearson of U.S. District Court asked the parties Feb. 8 to file a joint motion regarding possible consolidation of the cases.
The judge had asked that the parties propose by March 15 a “class counsel organizational structure” for the litigation and for the parties to provide the “views of all counsel” in a single document. Wednesday’s filing stated that all but one of the 22 plaintiffs agreed to consolidate, saying it “is the most efficient way to organize this litigation.” Norfolk Southern agreed that consolidation was appropriate, the filing states.
The plaintiffs propose that Norfolk Southern have 30 days to respond to the consolidated lawsuit, but Norfolk Southern proposed that it have 60 days. The company would no longer have to respond to any of the 22 individual lawsuits, the filing states.
The filing also states the three attorneys Pearson appointed to lead the consolidation will continue to coordinate the cases and such issues as providing access to expert witnesses to the derailment site in order to collect samples for analysis, including the areas under the two main sets of rail tracks at the site.
The filing states that the “good-faith efforts” of the parties to the lawsuits “have resulted in the remediation of the derailment site continuous without any delays caused by the need to collect samples for purpose of litigation.”
The suit alleged the derailment and Feb. 3 “chemical spill” “was proximately caused by the negligence of” Norfolk Southern Railway Co. and / or Norfolk Southern Corp. It stated that class-action members “were forced to evacuate and be involuntarily displaced from their homes and businesses.” The matter can qualify as a class action because the “controversy exceeds the sum of $5 million,” the suit alleged. The joint filing also notes that Norfolk Southern does not concede that “any of the requirements for (class-action) certification … have been met” for any of the lawsuits to become class-action cases.
Most legal actions can feel like a train wreck, but this one actually is one. And legal disputes like this one are EVERYWHERE! And when those things negatively impact YOU and/or YOUR business including bankruptcies, landlord/tenant matters including unlawful detainers, contract issues, nuisance ADA claims and even collections, call in your good guy business litigator, Dean Sperling to resolve YOUR matter with YOUR best interests in mind!
More on the case: