Lawyers with nationally prominent environmental law firm, Seattle-based Keller Rohrback LLP, are meeting with Southeast Portland residents who fear they’ve been exposed to harmful heavy metal emissions in their neighborhood. The state Department of Environmental Quality has blamed Bullseye Glass, 3722 SE 21st, for high readings of arsenic and cadmium.

Matthew Preusch, a lawyer with Keller Rohrback, said he and an associate, Daniel Mensher, will be meeting with concerned community members today.

"Three or four residents have already contacted us," Preusch said. He declined to discuss the where and when of the meeting, but noted it's a preliminary sit-down. Keller Rohrback hasn’t established a contractual relationship with any potential plaintiffs.

"We're just investigating potential claims, right now," Preusch said. "We feel this case is one where the civil justice system has a role to play to fill the gaps left by government regulation."

Asked about the fact that Bullseye and its North Portland competitor, Uroboros Glass, were operating within the emission limits allowed by their DEQ permits, Preusch said, "We'll cross that bridge when we get to it."

He's speaking for a firm accustomed to crossing some pretty significant bridges. According to a Keller Rohrback press release, the firm represented "fisherman, landowners and businesses" in their suit against Exxon in the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Currently, said Preusch, it has filed a class-action lawsuit against SoCal Gas, prompted by the Aliso Canyon gas leak outside Los Angeles. And it's on the plaintiff steering committee pursuing consolidated litigation against Volkswagen for its deceptive practices regarding its cars' diesel engines.

Daniel Forbes is the author of Derail this Train Wreck. He lives in Portland, and can be reached at ddanforbes@aol.com.


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