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GWB Defends Largest Property Damage Claim in South Carolina History

Train Wreck

One of the most significant cases undertaken by the Business and Commercial Litigation Team was Avondale Mills v. Norfolk Southern Railway Company.  In Avondale Mills v. Norfolk Southern Railway Company, C.A. No. 1:05-cv-2817-MBS (DSC 2005), GWB shareholders Howard Boyd, Phil Reeves, Ron Wray, and Chris Kelly teamed with attorneys from several other firms in representing Norfolk Southern Corporation and Norfolk Southern Railway Company.  The case arose from the derailment of a Norfolk Southern train in Graniteville, South Carolina.  Avondale Mills alleged that chlorine released as a result of the derailment caused property damage to its textile plant in Graniteville.  Avondale further claimed that the property damage it sustained ultimately led it to terminate its operations at all of its facilities and locations and sought over $450,000,000 in actual damages for remediation costs, business interruption, and lost business value.  Avondale also sought punitive damages, making the total damages sought approximately One Billion Dollars.

Trial of the case began on March 10, 2008 in Federal Court in Columbia, South Carolina.  GWB attorneys not only handled significant aspects of the trial, but also played vital roles in the case preparation and work-up.  This included multiple Daubert motions regarding expert testimony sought to be offered by Plaintiffs, as well as numerous summary judgment and discovery-related motions.

The parties estimated the case would take approximately 3 or 4 months to try.  Had the case gone to verdict, it would have been one of the longest trials ever conducted in South Carolina state or federal court.  However, following nearly one month of trial, during which numerous lay witnesses and experts testified, the case settled on April 4, 2008.

Past results and testimonials from clients are not to be taken as a representation that the same or similar results can be obtained by the firm in the future.