Judge Rejects Suit Stemming from 2017 CSX Derailment

A lawsuit against CSX that stemmed from a 2017 derailment in Hyndman, Pennsylvania, has been dismissed by a federal judge.

Several Hyndman residents had sued the railroad but U.S. District Judge Kim R. Gibson found that they failed to prove that fumes emitted from the derailed freight cars were toxic or caused any injuries.

“Fear and anxiety without physical manifestation are economic losses that are not recoverable under Pennsylvania law,” Gibson wrote in her opinion, the “fear and anxiety and anxiety the plaintiffs said they suffered was “never physically manifested.”

The ruling said the plaintiffs did not suffer property damage, personal injury, loss of property value or suffer severe mental harm as a result of the derailment.

The judge also noted in her ruling that CSX had set up community outreach centers to provide evacuees with food, water, transportation, cleaning services and reimbursements associated with being displaced.

The plaintiff had said in the lawsuit that some of them were not allowed to return home for three days and others were displaced for more than two weeks.

The suit had been filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania.

The derailment occurred in the early morning hours of Aug. 2, 2017, and involved Q388, which was traveling from Chicago to Selkirk, New York.

A National Transportation Safety Board report determined that the train, which had five locomotives and 178 cars, was having brake problems before the derailment.

The crew had stopped the train to inspect it before descending Sand Patch grade.

Although brake problems were addressed by the crew during that inspection, the train continued to have issues with the brakes and the 35th car in the consist, an empty high-sided gondola, derailed in a curve nearly two miles from the derailment site.

That led to the resulting 32-car derailment when it crossed a grade crossing in a Hyndman residential area.

Among the cars that derailed were tank cars carrying asphalt, molten sulphur and propane.

Some cars caught fire, including a car of propane that burned for more than two days.

There were injuries in the derailment and about 1,000 people were evacuated.

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