Three East Palestine companies sue Norfolk Southern over derailment
Three East Palestine manufacturers have joined the myriad of businesses and residents filing negligence suits against Norfolk Southern Railroad over the February 3 derailment and subsequent controlled burn of chemicals in tank cars.
The complaint filed in U.S. District Court says that the derailment occurred adjacent to the East Taggart Street property where ceramic refractory CeramFab has a plant.
Also named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit are CeramFab’s sister companies, CeramSource and WYG Refractories, which share an address less than a mile west of the derailment site.
The lawsuit filed by Alabama Attorney Jon Conlin states that since the derailment, none of the company’s employees have been able to report for work due to what Conlin characterizes as “chemical contamination, physical symptoms of exposure, and noxious odor that persists within the facility.”
CeramFab says both of its production lines have now been fully shuttered, and all work on four new production lines has been forced to stop.
“No existing CeramFab inventory has been able to be sold, and as a consequence, the company has been unable to fill multiple existing orders from its customers,” according to the complaint.
CeramFab’s complaint says as a result of the derailment, the company has suffered a loss of past or future customer confidence in its ability to operate or fulfill orders, and will likely never again be able to operate its business in its current location or regain its prior growth trajectory.
CeramSource, which supplies ceramic refractory products, moved to East Palestine in 2022.
According to the complaint since the derailment only two employees have been able to sporadically work due to chemical releases, contamination, physical symptoms when exposed, and what the suit calls “the contamination mitigation or clean-up efforts undertaken by Defendants or government agencies. “
CeramSource says it has only able to fulfil a limited number of orders, with some customers going to other companies.
WYG purchased and renovated its building in 2019 to make and sell magnesia carbon refractory products.
The lawsuit says that as a result of the derailment and controlled burn, it has had to cease production completely and like CeramSource, has customers looking elsewhere to fill order.
The complaint alleges that the toxic and hazardous materials from the derailment and burn have “infiltrated the substructures” of all three facilities, and may require full remediation before they can completely reopen before they can return to full operations.
The suit asks for unspecified punitive damages which it claims exceeds $75,000.
Since the derailment, nearly twenty negligence complaints have been filed in federal court against Norfolk Southern seeking a class action designation that would allow other plaintiffs to join.
U.S. District Judge Benita Pearson has given attorneys until Wednesday to come up with a single complaint for further consideration.
Norfolk Southern has yet to file a response to any of the complaints.