Company sued in Casselton train derailment wants case moved

By Dave Kolpack, Associated Press

A Pennsylvania steel company named in a lawsuit over an oil tanker train derailment near Casselton more than two years ago wants the case moved from state to federal court.

 

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — A Pennsylvania steel company named in a lawsuit over an oil tanker train derailment near Casselton more than two years ago wants the case moved from state to federal court.

An attorney for Standard Steel made the motion Thursday to shift the case out of East Central District Court in Fargo, where the company and BNSF are being sued by the engineer who was at the helm of the train when it derailed.

Bryan Thompson, of Fargo, is accusing Standard Steel of manufacturing a faulty axle that was found after the accident to be broken. Thompson says he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and isn't capable of returning to work. The suit seeks unspecified damages.

The original suit filed last year by Thompson only named BNSF, which says in court documents that if Thompson suffered any injuries, it was the fault of "entities over which BNSF has no control." An amended complaint filed last month added Standard Steel as a defendant.

Elizabeth Sorenson Brotten, an attorney for Standard Steel, said Friday that her client did not want to comment. Duane Lillehaug, Thompson's attorney, did not return a phone message Friday.

The accident about 30 miles west of Fargo on Dec. 30, 2013, happened when a train carrying soybeans derailed in front of Thompson's train, causing the oil tanker train to also derail and set off a fire that could be seen from nearly 10 miles away. The crash spilled about 400,000 gallons of crude oil, which took several weeks to clean up. No injuries were reported.

A National Transportation Safety Board investigation did not pinpoint the broken axle as the cause of the crash, but the NTSB ordered the industry to recall 43 axles made by Standard Steel in the same 2002 batch.

The amended complaint by Thompson accuses Standard Steel of negligence because the axle had defective design and was not property tested and treated. The suit says the axle was in "an unreasonably and dangerously defective condition" when it was sold and that the company failed to "adequately warn" Thompson or BNSF.

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