On Nov. 30, 2012, a train derailment in South Jersey made national headlines when 84 train cars derailed on a bridge and spilled toxic materials into the Mantua Creek below. Hundreds of businesses and residences in the Paulsboro, New Jersey, area had to be evacuated so that the mess could be cleaned up.
Now, a little more than three months later, the first wrongful death lawsuit has been filed in the wake of the horrific train accident. The lawsuit was filed in Philadelphia’s Common Pleas Court on behalf of a Paulsboro woman who died after being exposed to harmful chemicals that were released in the derailment.
The lawsuit states that the woman was exposed to lethal chemicals after her home was engulfed in a “thick toxic fog of vinyl chloride fumes.” It states that the woman’s son, who lived with her, was also exposed to the chemicals. According to the lawsuit, the woman told her son that the cloud was “harmless morning fog” and had no idea that exposure could kill her.
Sadly, after the woman was exposed to the vinyl chloride fumes, she began suffering from chest pains, difficulty breathing and a burning and irritation in her eyes, the lawsuit states. She was admitted to a local hospital where she was treated for exposure to vinyl chloride, but she soon died as a result of the exposure.
The woman’s son also developed similar symptoms after coming into contact with the vinyl chloride, the lawsuit said. It also states that the son was one of the Paulsboro residents who were approached by the railroad company and offered a small cash settlement for their promise not to sue. The son declined the offer, the lawsuit said.
Several defendants are named in the wrongful death suit, including Conrail and CSX Transportation. The lawsuit blames the defendants for failing to immediately warn Paulsboro residents of the hazards presented by the chemical spill. Dozens of Paulsboro residents who were injured have filed personal injury lawsuits based on similar claims.
Source: The Pennsylvania Record, “First wrongful death claim filed over ’12 S. Jersey freight train derailment,” Jon Campisi, March 6, 2013