Workers Injured by Fire at Louisville Train Derailment Site File Suit

Two Illinois workers injured in a fire during the October clean-up of a derailed Paducah & Louisville Railway train in southwestern Louisville have filed suit against the railroad and its contractors.

Leonardo Anthony Carrillo and Gregory Powers claim that P&L, CSX and a contractor failed to properly monitor dangerous contaminants while the men—employed by clean-up contractor RJ Corman—worked at the site near West Point, Ky. 

An acetylene cutting torch used in the clean-up ignited butadiene that had leaked at the site, causing a fire that injured Carrillo and Powers, the suit claims. 

“The bottom line here is these guys were told to go ahead and cut and it was not safe to cut,” said Colin Dunn, a Chicago attorney who is representing both men.

“It wasn’t their job to determine whether it was safe or not. There were other people on the scene that were responsible for that, and both Tony and Greg were relying on those people to do their job and obviously that wasn’t done.”

P&L declined to comment on the pending litigation, a spokeswoman said. CSX declined to comment but a spokeswoman referred to court filings in which the company denies wrongdoing. The Center for Toxicology and Environmental Health did not respond to requests for comment on Friday.

The lawsuits were initially filed in St. Clair County, Illinois, but have since been moved to the federal court in the U.S. District Court in Southern Illinois.

Carrillo and Powers live in Belleville, Ill.

Neither man has returned to work since the incident; both are still recovering from their injuries and are drawing disability benefits, Dunn said.

“They’re still having surgeries,” Dunn said. “He’s already had one on his hand and his wrist area. He’s going to have another one, it looks like. Tony is going to have to have surgery on his shoulder.”

“Both these guys have been through a lot and the road ahead is going to be tough for them. Unfortunately for them it’s not going to be a quick recovery.”

The defendants have filed a motion to move the case to Kentucky, Dunn noted.

The train derailment in late October led to several days of shelter-in-place orders and other disruptions near West Point, largely from concern for tankers carrying hydrogen fluoride.  A class-action suit was filed in November on behalf of West Point residents against the same entities and Carrilo and Powers’ employer, RJ Corman. P&L is attempting to have that case moved to federal court, as well, but the plaintiff’s are resisting that effort, said Alex Davis, an attorney representing the plaintiffs.

The Federal Railroad Administration is still investigating the accident, a spokesman said. No cause has been released.

Joseph Lord

Joseph Lord is the online managing editor for WFPL.

@joseph_Lord

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