Attorney representing East Palestine families: take caution before accepting money
Norfolk Southern Rail Company has reimbursed more than $1.2 million to those affected in East Palestine.
The company reimbursed about a thousand families and contacted over 30 businesses to provide aid.
Meanwhile, Cleveland attorney Michael O'Shea representing East Palestine residents said those affected should be cautious because it's possible accepting money now could make it harder to seek more funds in court down the road.
Plus, O'Shea said it's way too early to know what kind of expenses people may still endure from this situation long-term.
"It's going to be at least a few months if not, much more than that before anybody has a real sense of what some of the damages are," he said.
O'Shea said there are impacts on things like businesses, property values of homes, and potential long-term illness, which are hard to calculate damages during the immediate aftermath.
He said if residents can, they should hold off before accepting money.
"If you can afford it, I wouldn't take any trickle money now," he said, "I would wait and see what happens next."
Norfolk Southern said East Palestine residents accepting reimbursements sent out thus far will not impact their ability to attempt to seek legal action against the company, but the company wouldn't comment on whether this could change with future reimbursements.
Norfolk Southern said they wouldn't sign legally-binding documentation sent by O'Shea that would protect residents' right to seek legal action later.
Norfolk Southern tells 21 News in a statement:
"Norfolk Southern remains in the initial phases of providing reimbursements and inconvenience payments to affected residents. The acceptance of these reimbursements or inconvenience payments is not a settlement of any future claim against Norfolk Southern.
As to the attorney’s note, there is no need for us to sign a document reiterating what we are already on the record saying in addition to the fact that no resident has been asked to sign anything affecting their legal rights from Norfolk Southern."