每日英語跟讀 Ep.K538: In Town Where Train Derailed, Lawyers Are Signing Up Clients in Droves
In the four weeks since a freight train derailed in East Palestine and released more than 100,000 gallons of toxic chemicals, lawyers have poured into the little town, signing up clients, gathering evidence and already filing more than a dozen lawsuits in federal court on behalf of local residents.
Their message overall has been one of warning: It may be months, years or possibly even decades before the derailment’s ultimate effect on people’s health, property values or the soil and water becomes clear.
Further, the lawyers say, early moves by Norfolk Southern, the operator of the train, suggest that getting comprehensive answers from the company will not be easy.
Among a public that is deeply skeptical of official test results — Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, and other state and federal officials say they have not shown anything alarming so far — or camera-friendly efforts at reassurance, these warnings have resonated.
“They get what’s happening,” Rene Rocha, a lawyer with personal injury firm Morgan & Morgan, said during a state hearing about the derailment Thursday in Beaver County, Pennsylvania, just across the border from East Palestine.
Referring to residents there who had spoken at the hearing about headaches, coughs and other classic symptoms of chemical exposure, he added: “They see they’re not getting the truth from the politicians and the company. That leaves the lawyers.”
The huge scale of the chemical burn-off and the harrowing images of the fire, as well as the intense politicization of it all, have made the derailment in East Palestine among the most high-profile environmental disasters in the country in years.
The legal machinations are in their early stages. Cases might ultimately be consolidated as class-action or multidistrict litigation; most of the suits will almost surely end up bundled before one or several federal judges in an Ohio courtroom.
Norfolk Southern may offer some sort of resolution voluntarily, whether by setting up a compensation fund with an independent administrator or establishing a court-supervised medical monitoring program, where people could come for free testing related to possible health effects.
The company has already been paying $1,000 in “inconvenience compensation” to people who had to evacuate. Although Norfolk Southern insists that the payments do not curtail anyone’s right to sue, many are skeptical.
諾福克南方鐵路公司已向被撤離的民眾支付一千美元的「不便補償金」。儘管該公司堅稱，付補償金不會限制任何人提出訴訟的權利，但許多人持懷疑態度。Source article: https://udn.com/news/story/6904/7008051