FAYETTEVILLE – Thirty lawsuits have been filed against CSX Transportation for the 2015 train derailment that caused approximately 300 families to evacuate the area due to fires, explosions and Bakken crude oil spilling into the Kanawha River.
Sperry Rail Inc. was also named as a defendant in the lawsuits.
On Feb. 16, 2015, CSX negligently operated a train comprised of two locomotives and 109 tanker cards headed from North Dakota to York Town, Va., over rails in and near Mt. Carbon in Fayette County, according to the 30 complaints filed Feb. 14 and 15 in Fayette Circuit Court.
Donna Abbott, Machele Abbott, Anthony Akers, Elisabeth Akers, Elaine Belcher, Bobby L. Bess, Deborah Walker Blair, Richard S. Bradley, Manderville Cabell, Sherry Cabell, Deborah Chun, John Moss Jr., Tera Dunn, William Dunn, Caitlyn Fleming, Todd Fleming, Eric Halstead, Kristi Halstead, Linda Lilly, Tommy Lilly, Tony Marsico, Deanna Marsico, Frank Morris, Brenda Morris, Anthony Morris, Tonya Morris, Pamela Palitino, Marsha Ryan, Michael Ryan and Benjamin F. Thomas Jr. claim as a result of the negligent operation of the train, between 14 and 17 tanker cars derailed, spilling thousands of gallons of highly flammable Bakken crude oil onto the ground and into the Kanawha River and its tributaries.
In addition to the contamination of the Kanawha River and its tributaries, several explosions and fires occurred as a result of the train derailment and families had to be evacuated, according to the suits.
The plaintiffs claim as a result of the crude oil spill, water service was interrupted for the plaintiffs and then-Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin declared a state of emergency in multiple communities affected by the spill.
The plaintiffs have suffered damages for interruption of the normal personal pursuits and business activities and opportunities, which include loss of water, evacuation, fear and freight, emotional distress and real and personal property damages, according to the suits.
CSX was negligent and failed to ensure the safety of the community in Fayette County when it derailed the trail, according to the suits.
The plaintiffs claim CSX failed to properly inspect the rails upon which its locomotives travel, which led to the derailment.
CSX failed to properly inspect and maintain the trains, tracks, cars and contents, leading to the derailment and spill.
Sperry had a duty to repair or oversee repairs of broken, damaged or defective rails upon which its locomotives travel and failed to do so, according to the suits.
Sperry’s conduct constitutes a breach of common law duties owed to the plaintiffs, according to the suits.
The plaintiffs are seeking compensatory and punitive damages. They are being represented by Charles R. Bailey, Jason S. Hammond and John P. Fuller of Bailey & Wyant.
In 2015, a lawsuit was filed in Wayne Circuit Court and removed to federal court involving the incident. That lawsuit initially had 95 plaintiffs. In the last two years, that number has grown to 122.
CSX attempted twice to have the federal lawsuit dismissed. Both were denied. A motion to dismiss an amended complaint was granted in 2015. A third amended complaint was filed earlier this week.
The federal lawsuit accuses CSX of negligence, public nuisance, private nuisance and trespass. The plaintiffs claim they will require medical monitoring. They are being represented by Rod Jackson and Travis A. Griffith, as well as Mark Bryant and Emily Roark of Bryant Law Center in Paducah, Ky., and Calvin C. Fayard Jr., D. Blayne Honeycutt and Wanda J. Edwards of Fayard & Honeycutt APC in Denham Springs, La.
The federal case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Robert C. Chambers.
Fayette Circuit Court case numbers: 17-C-48, 17-C-49, 17-C-50, 17-C-51, 17-C-52, 17-C-53, 17-C-54, 17-C-55, 17-C-56, 17-C-57, 17-C-58, 17-C-59, 17-C-60, 17-C-61, 17-C-62, 17-C-63, 17-C-64, 17-C-65, 17-C-66, 17-C-67, 17-C-68, 17-C-69, 17-C-70, 17-C-71, 17-C-72, 17-C-73, 17-C-74, 17-C-75, 17-C-76, 17-C-77