One Graniteville victim fears never seeing a settlement

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January 8, 2007

GRANITEVILLE, S.C.---Victims of the Graniteville train wreck involved in a class-action lawsuit got the news they've been waiting to hear today: their lawsuit has been settled.

One woman living in the town is still waiting for a resolution to her own lawsuit.

A US district judge today approved a preliminary settlement that would pay thousands of dollars to mill workers and first responders in Graniteville.

Norfolk Southern has already paid roughly $41 million in claims and other expenses, and now they will pay even more.

It's money that will help more than 700 victims.

But not everyone will be getting a check.

To be a part of the settlement, victims would have had to have sought medical treatment before April 6, 2005.

Victims who worked or lived within one mile of the crash site and sought treatment within the first four weeks will get the most.

It's money that victims like Maleah Deketeleare could really use. Maleah lives and works just a few hundred yards from the crash site at her family's store, Deketeleares.

But she won't be seeing a penny.

"They told me my case was too difficult because of the personal injury, the property damage, my rental property damage and my business, so they told me to get an attorney," Maleah told News 12.

So Maleah did just that. But as time goes on, she is growing wary.

"I stay hopeful, but yet I'm doubtful. I'm almost 70 years old, and I don't think I'll live to see a settlement, because it keeps being postponed, postponed, and postponed."

Her house and her health are failing. Her plaster walls are crumbling before her eyes, and you can still see the chlorine damage outside. Business is slow since the mill closed its doors

But she's not giving up just yet.

"We don't want to give up hope. Graniteville has a lot to offer yet and behind every cloud is a silver maybe our silver lining will be soon," she said.

The agreement puts victims into six groups depending on how close they were to the accident site, the seriousness of their injuries and their treatment time.

Victims who sought treatment soon after the wreck could receive anywhere from $10,000 all the way up to several hundred thousand dollars.

A claims office will open by January 19 in Graniteville, and that's when notices will go out about the settlement. People will then have 90 days to file a claim.