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Attorneys for defendants in a lawsuit filed on behalf of those affected by the West Point train derailment say the suit should move to federal court.
The attorneys submitted to Hardin Circuit Court a notice of removal to do so. The notice cites several reasons Hardin Circuit Court wouldn’t have jurisdiction over the class action lawsuit concerning the Oct. 29 train derailment in West Point, including the number of plaintiffs the lawsuit represents and the amount of money the suit seeks in damages.
The lawsuit was brought by West Point residents Becky Brown, Michael C. Smith and Susan E. Morgan and Meade County resident James Perry Jr. The plaintiffs have filed on behalf of others who also were affected by the derailment.
The lawsuit has been filed against Paducah & Louisville Railway Inc., P&L Transportation, R.J. Corman Railroad Group LLC, Center for Toxicology and Environmental Health LLC and CSX Transportation.
The notice of removal was filed Dec. 10. In it, attorneys for the defendants claim federal court has jurisdiction over the case under the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005. The act says federal court has jurisdiction when a class involves at least 100 people, when plaintiffs and defendants involved are from different states and when the amount of money involved exceeds $5 million.
The notice claims the plaintiffs are representing at least 100 people, because West Point’s 900 residents, among others, were forced to evacuate their homes. The class of plaintiffs includes residents of Kentucky and Indiana while the defendants are from other states.
The notice also claims the plaintiffs likely are seeking at least $1 million in compensatory damages, and punitive damages could be much more than that.
The Paducah & Louisville train derailed Oct. 29 near the Hardin-Jefferson County line. The railcars carried chemicals, including butadiene and hydrogen fluoride, and at least one car leaked butadiene.
Two days later, an explosion at the site ignited a fire. The derailment and explosion led to evacuations and shelter-in-place orders for residents and shut down a portion of U.S. 31W.
Residents again were evacuated and traffic rerouted when the derailed cars were removed from the site.
Lavinda Curl, a member of West Point City Council, said she believes most residents have received some sort of restitution by now, and have resumed their routines.
“I think that life has returned to normal here,” she said.
Kelly Cantrall can be reached at (270) 505-1747 or kcantrall@thenews enterprise.com.