Judge clears way for $1.2 billion lawsuit against Bullseye Glass

Bullseye Glass Co. (KATU File Photo)

A judge ruled in favor of a group of residents Friday, allowing them to move forward with a $1.2 billion class action lawsuit against a Southeast Portland glassmaker.

Bullseye Glass Co. stopped using the chemicals cadmium and arsenic in its glass production in 2016, after air monitoring stations detected high levels of the chemicals around the company, prompting concerns from nearby residents and a day care center. The company also said it stopped using chromium a week later, after a request from the state.

The company later resumed using cadmium after installing an updated filtration system known as a baghouse.*

Dozens of people packed the courthouse in downtown Portland and listened to both sides present their cases.

The plaintiffs argued the lawsuit should move forward based on their research that shows hundreds of people were potentially affected by dangerous chemicals coming from the facility.

The defense disagreed.

After the ruling, Bullseye Glass’s Vice President Jim Jones said he believed his company would prevail at trial.

“It’s hard for us to imagine that we affected someone a mile and a half, two miles away from us the same as someone close to us, and I believe that at trial we’ll be able to show that the merits of the case don’t stand up,” said Jones, in response to claims related to the class action suit.

Joshua Baker lives about a quarter of a mile away from Bullseye Glass. He’s one of about 2,000 people who are part of the lawsuit.

“They have from the very start challenged all the scientific findings that determined that they were the source for these contaminants, and apparently they’re still claiming they are not responsible for it,” he said.

Bullseye argues it’s been in compliance with the state since it started business about 40 years ago.

“I would like people to understand is the owners of Bullseye decided to stay and put in the correct emissions equipment probably faster than any other company in Oregon has,” said Jones.

Baker acknowledged this isn’t an isolated case.

“It’s just not Bullseye, and that’s been a case they’ve made the whole time as well, which I agree, but it doesn’t excuse what they got away with for so long,” he said.

Meanwhile, Bullseye Glass has filed its own lawsuit against the state, claiming several state agencies used Bullseye as a scapegoat to hide the facts about air quality.

*Editor's note: This article has been changed to reflect the voluntary nature of changes to Bullseye's manufacturing process. A paragraph about pollutants found in soil samples has been removed, since the state determined levels were not high enough to warrant a clean-up.

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