UP Announces Settlement to Class Action Suit

OMAHA, Neb. – A settlement has been reached in a class action suit filed against Union Pacific following a May 27, 2000, derailment near Eunice, La., the railroad announced Tuesday (May 25, 2004).

Union Pacific, subject to court approval, has agreed to a payment of $65 million in exchange for a release of all claims for damages involved in this litigation. At the time of the settlement, over 10,000 formal claims had been filed.

The railroad’s insurers will reimburse Union Pacific for this payment. The settlement will not impact the Company’s earnings, the company said in a news release.

According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the derailment occurred at 11:48 a.m. CDT on a single line track owned by Union Pacific. State authorities evacuated a roughly two-mile area where between 2,500 and 3,000 residents lived.

The train consisted of three locomotives and 113 cars – 87 loaded, 26 empties – and was traveling east from Freeport, Texas, to Livonia, La. According to the NTSB, 33 cars derailed, with the derailment occurring between the 10th and the 42nd cars.

Of the derailed cars, 14 contained hazardous materials, including toluene diisocyanate; acrylic acid; 1,2 dichloropropane; methyl chloride; molten phenol; dicyclopentadiene; pentanes; hexanes; and a corrosive liquid. Four empty cars contained residue of their previous cargo of 4, thiapentanal.

According to the preliminary event recorder information removed from the first two locomotives, the train was traveling at 40 mph in maximum throttle position. There was no braking prior to the train line-induced emergency brake application.

The emergency brakes are designed to apply when the air brake pipe separates between any cars on the train. Investigators have found no indication of problems with train handling or the testable portion of the braking system. Routine toxicology tests were performed on the crew.

– PRNewswire-FirstCall and Railfanning.org News Wire Editor Todd DeFeo contributed to this report.