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Tesla loses General Counsel to company hounded for East Palestine chemical spill

Credit: Tesla

Tesla has lost General Counsel F. Nathaniel Smith III to Norfolk Southern Corp., the company that has been hounded by lawsuits related to the toxic chemical spill after a train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio.

Norfolk Southern landed Smith III about a month ago, according to his LinkedIn profile, which states he started at Tesla just two years and five months ago as a Managing Counsel.

Tesla’s “hardcore litigation department” is already taking shape

He was promoted to Associate General Counsel and the Head of General Litigation in May 2022, handling Tesla’s “Securities, Consumer, Energy & Vehicle Class Action, Antitrust, Privacy, Supply Chain Disputes, Commercial, Board Matters, Affirmative Litigation and Intellectual Property Litigation, along with Government Investigations.”

Tesla is replacing Smith III with Nabanita Nag. Bloomberg Law first reported Smith III’s departure from Tesla.

Handling Tesla’s litigation was likely a demanding task, but Smith III will have his hands full with the new role, which is Norfolk Souther, which is facing major lawsuits from shareholders, Ohio’s Attorney General Dave Yost, and the U.S. Department of Justice.

In February, a Norfolk Southern train derailed in East Palestine, Ohio, spilling hazardous materials, including vinyl chloride, ethylene glycol, ethylhexyl acrylate, butyl acrylate, and isobutylene.

The spill caused cars to catch fire, but the major damage was done as the chemicals spilled into a ditch that feeds Sulphur Run, a stream that joins another and eventually empties into the Ohio River.

This caused residents to seek shelter as clean water was not available. The County Government continues to test water wells.

The EPA issued legal orders to Norfolk Southern, instructing them to clean the spill.

Tesla has been shaping up a “hardcore legal team” to handle litigation for some time. Earlier this year, it hired a new General Counsel, Brandon Ehrhart, who was with Dish Network for over 20 years.

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Tesla loses General Counsel to company hounded for East Palestine chemical spill
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