Meet the Judge Tasked With Overseeing the Ohio Derailment Lawsuits |

U.S. District Judge Benita Pearson, the first African American woman to serve on the federal bench in Ohio, will oversee lawsuits filed over the Feb. 3 train derailment in East Palestine.

Pearson, who is in nearby Youngstown, already held hearings last week to address an early dispute among lawyers that erupted when Norfolk Southern planned to haul away derailed train cars before plaintiffs’ experts had an opportunity to inspect them. The lawyers worked out their differences, with some help from Pearson, a Cleveland native and former accountant who got her law degree from Cleveland-Marshall College of Law at Cleveland State University in 1996.

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