Pennsylvania School District Sues Norfolk Southern Over Ohio Train Derailment

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A Pennsylvania school district serving students in two counties is suing the Norfolk Southern Railway over the railway’s February 3 toxic train derailment in nearby East Palestine, Ohio.

The complaint filed by Blackhawk School District accuses the railway of negligence in failing to safely operate the train and failure to safely contain the toxic chemicals.

The suit, filed in federal court for western Pennsylvania, alleges that the derailment of the rail cars and subsequent burning of their contents caused “toxic, hazardous, and dangerous chemicals to be released onto and into the ground, into the air, and into the surface and subsurface waterways and groundwater.” The railway “dumped a lethal cocktail” on the district’s buildings, property, soil, and water supplies, according to the suit.

As a result of the railway’s alleged breach of its duty of care, the suit claims the school district has suffered harms, including medical and health issues for students and staff; testing and monitoring the impact on its property and water sources; monetary expenses relating to evacuation and cleanup of the property and drinking water; monetary expenses to ensure safe and clean air and water at school facilities; damage to personal property and real property; loss of use and enjoyment of property; increased risk of disease; and expenses of future medical monitoring.

Blackhawk School District encompasses a 69 square mile area, and includes students from both Beaver and Lawrence Counties in Pennsylvania. The complaint cites damage to its properties in Pennsylvania within a 15 mile radius of East Palestine, Ohio. The district includes high, middle, intermediate, and primary schools in Beaver Falls serving about 2,300 students.

The district is seeking unspecified damages, as well as medical monitoring and other remedies.

The state of Ohio has also sued the railway. “This derailment was entirely avoidable,” Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said at a press conference earlier this month announcing the suit seeking compensation for damages to the state’s environment, economy and residents.

Also, East Palestine residents and businesses have filed lawsuits against Norfolk Southern.

Norfolk Southern has promised $7 million for Pennsylvania municipalities affected by the derailment and committed $21 million to rebuilding East Palestine.

Photo: A view of the scene Friday, Feb. 24, 2023, as the cleanup continues at the site of of a Norfolk Southern freight train derailment that happened on Feb. 3 in East Palestine, Ohio. (AP Photo/Matt Freed)


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