Bullseye Glass decreasing property value of SE Portland neighborhoods
As of yesterday (March 3, 2016), Bullseye Glass Co. got sued by seven Southeast Portland residents in a class action. The news over DEQ finding high levels of cadmium and arsenic in the air has been all over Oregon media for several weeks now. It is not surprising it came to that the glass manufacturer being sued by residents as there are evidences of harm being done to people and their homes living within a mile of Bullseye Glass. It has been an ongoing concern for SE Portland residents for a while.
The angle I want to focus on today is to discuss decreased property values in the neighborhood due to the high levels of toxins from Bulleseye Glass and also briefly touch upon the legal claims addressed in the complaint in order to properly address the property value decrease. I am a licensed attorney and also a real estate professional so I do have the expertise in discussing what the lawsuit means and how it will affect the property values.
First, refer to this complaint. As you will see there are two claims 1) nuisance and 2) trespass. Most people see why nuisance is a justified claim but why trespass? Under tort laws including in Oregon, trespass claim includes unwanted objects intruding on the landowner’s property. For example, if someone threw a baseball into your backyard, it constitutes a civil trespass. Similarly, Bullseye Glass Co. intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly allowed their produced toxins to intrude the property and the soil of the surrounding homeowners. Now, let’s talk about the nuisance theory. In order to succeed in a nuisance theory whether private or public, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant’s activities interfered with reasonable use and enjoyment of his or her property. In the complaint, it alleges that at least one or more plaintiff lost their use of gardening produce for consumption. Moreover, some of the plaintiff’s children were tested for urine toxicity level and the result came back with high enough levels of inorganic arsenic that the doctor suggested further testing.
Due to the air and ground being contaminated, the value of the plaintiffs’ home being decreased is also being addressed as a damage. The complaint states on page 13 regarding the commonality of the issue under the class action involving the issue of whether Class members’ personal or real property has been damaged and if so how the values of that property have been affected by the release of gases and toxic chemicals into the atmosphere at the Facility.
The exact amount of property value decrease is not determined at this point. It will involve a civil discovery of expert opinions and real estate sales data over the next several months to ascertain some concrete figures and present that to the jury against any evidence countering that number. As of now, there are many homes for sale in the affected neighborhoods in SE Portland where Bullseye Glass is located and it will be critical to see how these homes will see over the next several months considering at what price and the average days on the market. Neighborhoods in one mile radius are possibly affected and that means neighborhoods including Brooklyn, Hosford-Abernethy, Richmond, Creston-Kenilworth, Sellwood-Moreland, Reed, Eastmoreland, Buckman, Sunnyside, and South Portland. The complaint actually seeks for Bullseye to provide residents living within 1.5 miles of Bullseye urine and blood testing for arsenic, cadmium, and chromium. 1.5 mile radius will include as far as Downtown Portland, Laurelhurst, and Woodstock.
One of the remedies sought by the complaint is for Bullseye Glass to remove all particulate matter Bullseye has deposited or allowed to be deposited on the property of Plaintiffs and Class members. I lack knowledge in this area whether such cleanups will permanently remove these particulate matter but I really hope that Southeast Portland residents and affected residents will be made in whole somehow.