Three East Palestine residents cite negligence over chemical release

YOUNGSTOWN — Three East Palestine residents have filed filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court against Norfolk Southern Railway Co. over the release of vinyl chloride into the atmosphere.

Officials said the release on Monday was to prevent a possible explosion of tanker cars that derailed in the village of 4,700 residents Friday.

The suit seeks to be a class action by Harold R. Feezle of state Route 14 and David J. and Susan E. Scheufele of East Clark Street “on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated,” according to the suit, filed Tuesday.

It names Norfolk Southern Railway Co. and its statutory agent, Corporation Service Co. of Upper Arlington, and Norfolk Southern Corp. of Atlanta, as defendants.

An emailed response to The Vindicator from the media relations office of Norfolk Southern regarding the lawsuit stated the company is “unable to comment on litigation.”

The suit alleges the derailment and Feb. 3 âchemical spillã âwas proximately caused by the negligence ofã Norfolk Southern Railway Co. and/or Norfolk Southern Corp.

“The negligence causing the derailment and chemical spill necessitated immediate evacuation of all homes and businesses in approximately one-to-two-mile radius of the site,ã the filing states. It says Feezle and the Scheufeles and other possible class-action members âwere faced 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 alleges.

Feezle owns a business at 50263 state Route 14, the suit states. That address is associated with Rollerena Auto Sales. It is part of the area that was evacuated. “Mr. Feezle was forced to close his business during the time of the forced evacuation and suffered damages therefrom,” the suit states.

The Scheufeles had to evacuate their home on East Clark Street and “suffered damages therefrom” and also “suffered injuries as a direct and proximate result of his exposure to the toxic chemicals and fumes emanating from the accident site,” the suit alleges.

It estimates âhundredsã of people were adversely exposed to, among other things, toxic chemicals, fumes and carcinogens and forced from their homes.

The suit alleges the derailment was caused by Norfolk Southern’s “operation of the train, defects in (Norfolk-Southern’s) track system and/or defects in one or more of the cars.” The filing seeks to include everyone who lived or owned property or owned a business in or near East Palestine in the evacuation area or anyone who suffered physical injuries to be included in the class action.

The suit seeks an order certifying the suit as a class action, an order requiring complete and immediate disclosure of all studies, reports, analyses, data, compilations, and other information in the possession of Norfolk Southern relating to the release of vinyl chloride in East Palestine.

It also seeks an award of unspecified compensatory and punitive damages. The suit was filed by Attorney Neal Shapero of Cleveland.

Read MORE in Thursday’s VINDICATOR


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