Businesses and residents affected by the East Palestine train derailment already have begun filing lawsuits against the Norfolk Southern Railway, but they may face significant obstacles to pursuing certain claims or consolidating their cases into a class action lawsuit, McGuireWoods Richmond partner Davis Walsh told Law360 in a Feb. 22, 2023, story.
Walsh said it could be difficult for plaintiffs claiming physical effects from the crash to bring a class action lawsuit because the different degrees to which they might be affected would make it hard to pin down a class definition for certification. Similarly, the geographic scope of the derailment may also pose a challenge. As a result, courts might consolidate claims for discovery and motions and consider injuries and damages on a case-by-case basis.
Walsh also said the Federal Railroad Safety Act could scuttle some claims related to the derailment, depending on what the investigation reveals about the cause.
“It becomes a very detailed look at the facts,” Walsh said.