Three weeks to the day since a Norfolk Southern train derailed in East Palestine, Ohio, setting off both a literal and figurative firestorm, lawyers have filed a class action lawsuit against the railroad on behalf of the town’s residents.

The firm, Johnson and Johnson, is partnering with class-action law firm Hagens Berman on behalf of all residents within 30 miles of the derailment site. The lawsuit specifically invokes the legal doctrine of “public nuisance,” the backbone of both the landmark 1990s lawsuits against the tobacco industry and ongoing litigation against opioid manufacturers and fossil fuel companies. Hagens Berman represented the state of Ohio in tobacco litigation as well as an ongoing opioid suit.

In addition to punitive damages, the lawsuit also seeks the creation of a fund for medical monitoring, new testing and cleaning procedures and injunctive relief in the form of safety and compliance oversight.

According to Steve Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman, the suit seeks damages distinct from the restitution ordered by the EPA. Per The Hill:

“All of our lawsuit’s proposed benefits (monetary damages for all injured businesses & residents/individuals within 30 miles of the derailment, establishment of testing & cleaning protocols, a medical monitoring fund, injunctive relief oversight to Norfolk Southern’s safety & compliance programs) would be above and beyond what the EPA would have for residents,” Berman said. “Additionally, we will want a say in what an effective cleanup is.”

This suit is in addition to multiple other suits filed against the railway already arising out of the derailment.

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