Avondale Seeks $420 Million from Norfolk Southern Railroad


When a Norfolk Southern train wreck caused a toxic chlorine spill in the mill town of Graniteville, the Avondale textile company’s flagship canvas plant had to be closed for eight days for safety reasons. The company closed its doors for good in May 2006 after experts determined it would have cost more than the business was worth to clean the buildings and replace the machinery.

Now the textile company wants the railroad to pay $420 million in damages.

Attorneys for Norfolk Southern said Avondale had already seen the writing on the wall in the failing American textile industry when the crash occurred. The attorneys acknowledge that the railroad is to blame for the crash, but a payout of $110 million is more in line with the value of Avondale Mills.

The circumstances of the train crash may play a major role in who wins the civil suit. The crash occurred when a Norfolk Southern train veered off the main track onto a spur, rear-ending a parked train whose crew had failed to switch the tracks back to the mail rail. Avondale attorney Terry Richardson said Norfolk Southern should be held accountable because the railroad knew members of the crew operating the Graniteville tracks the night before the crash had been working long hours in violation of company rules.


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