State lawsuit over East Palestine train derailment in limbo; AG says ‘be patient’

The Ohio Attorney General’s lawsuit against railroad company Norfolk Southern for compensation following the East Palestine train derailment remains in flux as the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) continues its investigation of the incident.

Attorney General Dave Yost on Friday — the day before the one-year anniversary of the Columbiana County incident — said his office is anticipating the NTSB’s findings. Yost said he cannot agree to a settlement without more information about what led to the Feb. 3, 2023 incident.

“No responsible person should want a rush to judgment in the form of a settlement without having all the facts,” he said on Friday. “It would be irresponsible.”

Last March, the attorney general filed a 58-count federal lawsuit against Norfolk Southern, seeking to hold the company financially responsible for the derailment.

The team representing Ohio in the suit recently met with Norfolk Southern representatives to learn more details of the incident, saying that the rail company was “cooperative.”

NTSB is investigating the cause of the derailment. Yost on Friday said his office hopes the safety board will issue a report of its findings later this summer. He hopes to learn more about the inspection and maintenance of railcars, safety equipment and detectors.

A month after the East Palestine derailment, a total of 28 cars of a 212-car Norfolk Southern train overturned near the Clark County Fairgrounds on State Route 41.

Norfolk Southern has paid Clark County more than $100,000 in expenses related to that derailment, a process that took several months.

Yost said he shares the frustration of communities that have waited or are waiting for compensation.

“All I can say is, push forward, be patient,” he said. “The system moves slowly, but it does get there.”

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