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Court Gives Preliminary Approval of $600M East Palestine Derailment Settlement

The settlement will include anyone who lived, worked or owned a business within 20 miles of the train derailment.

Ohio and EPA contractors collect soil and air samples from the derailment site on March 9, 2023, in East Palestine, Ohio.

This week, the court overseeing a lawsuit for the February 2023 train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, gave preliminary approval for a $600 million settlement to be paid by Norfolk Southern Railway, lead attorneys in the class action lawsuit said in a press release.

The lawsuit stems from the disaster last year in which a Norfolk Southern train carrying an array of toxic chemicals — some of which are linked to cancer, organ damage and other health issues — caught fire and derailed in East Palestine, which has a population of about 4,700 people.

Residents reported symptoms such as worsened asthma, skin irritation, headaches, throat and nasal irritation and other issues for months after the accident. Some left to never return, and many of those that remained were skeptical of government and industry reports that the area was safe from toxics.

According to the attorneys for the plaintiffs, the court’s decision means the settlement meets the requirements for a class-action lawsuit. “With this ruling, the claims process will now get underway,” said a statement from the law firms representing the plaintiffs.

The settlement will include anyone who lived, worked or owned a business within 20 miles of the train derailment. Anyone who meets those criteria will receive an email or letter within a month and there will be a settlement website and claims assistance center set up.

In an April press release from Norfolk Southern announcing the settlement agreement, the company said the settlement is designed to provide “finality and flexibility for settlement class members,” including health care needs, property restoration, and recouping business losses.

The deadline to file a claim will be August 22 and the final approval hearing for the settlement will be on September 25.

“We are confident that the Court will ultimately find during the Final Approval process that the settlement is a fair, reasonable and adequate resolution to the litigation,” the lawyers said in the statement.

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