YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — Several federal and one civil class action lawsuit has been filed in regards to the East Palestine train derailment.
One of the class action lawsuits filed in federal court against Norfolk Southern was by Ray and Judith Hall of East North Avenue in East Palestine.
The complaint says the pair live in the “danger zone,” or the area that authorities ordered evacuated.
They claim Norfolk Southern was negligent for causing the accident and because of the derailment suffered damages, including the evacuation of their homes.
Those filing a federal class action Wednesday against Norfolk Southern also include Grayce Eisley and Jeffrey Jaffrey Zalick.
The two claimed because of the derailment, the properties they own suffered a decrease in market value.
Because of conditions caused by the derailment and the resulting evacuation, the two contend that their properties may be “uninhabitable for some time.”
The two allege Norfolk Southern was negligent and are asking for damages.
The suit was filed by Cincinnati-based attorneys Robert P. Starks and Ronald R. Parry. The case has been assigned to U.S. Judge Benita Y. Pearson but a hearing date has not been set yet.
Several people filed also class action lawsuits Tuesday against the operators of the train that derailed in East Palestine and forced the evacuations of dozens of homes and businesses.
Chase and Cheri Kinder, entities Bird Dog Hill Kennels and Stonybrook Kennel and Pamela Taas filed a lawsuit late Tuesday.
The complaint said that the plaintiffs were forced out of their homes or businesses and sustained damages to property, economic loss and expense, emotional distress, discomfort and inconvenience and exposure to hazardous chemicals.
The complaint was filed in Columbiana County Common Pleas Court. They are represented by attorney Jim Wise.
In a separate lawsuit, David and Susan Scheufele of Clark Street in East Palestine as well as Harold Feezle of state Route 14 filed their suit Tuesday in the U.S. Northern District Court of Ohio.
They are represented by Wellsville attorney Nicholas Amato and Cleveland attorney Andrew Thompson of the law firm Shapero Roloff LPA.
The complaint says Feezle owns a business on state Route 14, and because he has been forced to close his business, he has suffered damages.
David Scheufele claims he suffered injuries due to his exposure to the fumes from the crash site, and Susan Scheufele said she suffered damages because she was forced to evacuate.
Court records do not list a hearing date.
The suit asks for damages as well as prohibiting the railroad from removing any equipment from the crash site until it can be examined and also asks that the railroad retain all records relating to the train and the spill.
It also asks the judge to bar the railroad from trying to make possible class members sign any document that releases the company of any claims.
Norfolk Southern is the operator of a train carrying chemicals that derailed at about 9 p.m. Friday in East Palestine. Since then, a number of homes and businesses close to the derailment to evacuate. The evacuation order was lifted Tuesday at about 5:30 p.m.
Norfolk Southern has established a Family Assistance Center to help those directly impacted by the derailment. A company spokesman said this initial phase of support was designed to help people without having to worry about what comes next and is offered without a legal waiver.
Local attorney Jeffrey Goodman, who is not involved in this case, offers insight into what he says is an important part aimed to protect people who could be included in the class in the future.
“These people are struggling to deal with this catastrophe that has been dropped in their lap and disrupting their lives,” Goodman said. “It’s important to protect those victims right now.”
From a legal standpoint, Goodman says people affected by the derailment should consult with a lawyer before doing or signing anything.
“Make sure your rights are protected because you just don’t know at this stage in the game what your potential damages are and you don’t want to do anything that prejudices your ability to recover down the road when you find out,” Goodman said.
Patty Coller contributed to this report.