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County News & Press Releases

Posted on: March 24, 2023

Retirement Board Votes to Join Class Action Against Norfolk Southern

The Bucks County Employees Retirement System has filled a federal class action suit against Norfolk Southern for securities fraud stemming from misrepresentations the company made to investors, including the County Retirement Board, about its safety practices. 

Lawyers representing the County filed the complaint March 16 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, in the same district where a Norfolk Southern train derailed last month and caused a disastrous chemical spill. 

The Bucks County Retirement Board voted unanimously during its March meeting to join the litigation. 

“It is of paramount importance to the Bucks County Retirement Board that we safeguard the fund that supports the retirees who dutifully served the County of Bucks during their working years,” said Commissioner Chair Bob Harvie. “Corporations that harm the fund – and by extension our retired employees – through fraud or deceit should be held accountable for those actions.”  

Commissioner Harvie also chairs the Retirement Board, which administers the Bucks County Employees’ Retirement Fund. The fund pays millions in benefits each year to more than 1,600 retired County employees. 

The Retirement System’s suit alleges Norfolk Southern made false and misleading statements that concealed safety risks and misrepresented the value of the company, which artificially inflated the company’s stock price. The Retirement System lost about $78,000 as a result.

It was only after a Norfolk Southern train derailed Feb. 3 in East Palestine, Ohio, near the Pennsylvania border that the company’s unsound safety practices were revealed to the public and investors. The company’s stock price tumbled as a result, causing financial harm to investors like the County Retirement Fund. 

“As we’ve done in lawsuits against major opioid manufacturers, PFAS polluters, and most recently, social media giants, this administration stands united in seeking accountability from corporations who have caused real harm to Bucks Countians,” said County Solicitor Joe Khan. “Our case against Norfolk Southern is no different. According to the complaint, their actions in the East Palestine, Ohio derailment, and subsequent ecological disaster that unfolded, caused their stock value to plummet and our Retirement Fund to take a hit through no fault of our investors or retirees. Our lawsuit demands that Norfolk Southern answer for this loss.” 

The County is represented in the suit by Robins Gellar Rudman & Dowd. 

Media Contact: James O'Malley, 215-348-6414, jtomalley@buckscounty.org

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