Businesses, residents and community organizations inundated by flooding when Hurricane Florence hit North Carolina slapped CSX with a proposed class action in federal court Thursday, accusing the railroad company of failing to plug an underpass despite knowing the risk for destruction if a nearby river surged through it.
The suit contends that CSX Transportation Inc. knew since at least 2003 that the underpass beneath I-95 allowed the Lumber River to flow unstopped into the western half of the city of Lumberton but refused to build a barrier, or berm, to stop the water.
The company allegedly refused pleas from city officials to take action after the Lumber River rose and flooded parts of the city two years ago during Hurricane Matthew, despite studies recommending the construction of a wall, and offers of financial assistance.
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“Despite multiple warnings from experts and authorities, CSX repeatedly chose to ignore the flood dangers posed by its underpass, even going as far as to threaten those looking to fix the problem with litigation,” Theodore J. Leopold of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC, representing the plaintiffs, said in a release. “First with Hurricane Matthew and then with Hurricane Florence, the company’s inexcusable negligence has left scars on this community that will take years to heal.”
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