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Woman sues Bullseye, claiming emissions caused terminal lung cancer

COURTESY PHOTO: BULLSEYE GLASS CO. - Bullseye Glass Co., which makes glass for the art industry, is facing a lawsuit in federal court by a woman who claims her lung cancer was caused by emissions from the company's Southeast Portland plant.A 63-year-old Washington woman and her husband are suing Southeast Portland’s Bullseye Glass Co., saying emissions from the company plan on Southeast 21st Avenue could have caused the woman’s lung cancer.

Attorneys for Valerie and Richard Silva filed a lawsuit Tuesday, June 14, in U.S. District Court. They’re seeking an unspecified amount of damages for the family because of the illness.

It’s the latest lawsuit in a legal fight with the glassmaker, and the first by two individuals who claim emissions from the company plant contributed to or caused a serious illness.

In early March, seven Southeast Portland residents sued Bullseye Glass in Multnomah County Circuit Court, claiming emissions from the company’s plant could harm their families. The group is seeking class-action status for the lawsuit so an estimated 6,000 Southeast Portland residents who live near the Bullseye plant can join the case.

Officials with Bullseye Glass have not responded to the latest federal lawsuit. The company has not provided a comment for this story about the Silvas’ claims.

In state court, the company is fighting the Southeast Portland residents’ lawsuit, asking a judge to dismiss the claims because the residents failed to show that the emission actually harmed them. The judge originally assigned the case voluntarily disqualified himself because he and his family live in Southeast Portland and could be covered by a class-action claim.

No court date has been set for the federal lawsuit.

Valerie and Richard Silva claim that Valerie’s stage four lung cancer was caused by emissions she breathed for years while working at the Fred Meyer Co. offices on Southeast 22nd Avenue, which is across the street from the Bullseye Glass factory on Southeast 21st Avenue.

In September 2014, Valerie Silva was diagnosed with stage four non-small cell lung cancer. Her cancer is terminal.

According to the family’s claim, “The cancer was caused by airborne contamination. Ms. Silva never smoked cigarettes or used other tobacco products, nor did her husband.”

“Mr. and Mrs. Silva have a close and loving marriage,” according to the lawsuit. “They are the parents of two daughters and have four grandchildren. Ms. Silva has been severely emotionally traumatized by her cancer diagnosis. Her husband Richard has likewise been severely emotionally traumatized by his wife’s cancer diagnosis and the devastating experience since her diagnosis, and suffers loss of consortium. They will continue to suffer emotional harm from this situation for the rest of their lives.”

Bullseye Glass has produced glass products for artists and others in Southeast Portland since 1974. The company said it has complied with all federal and state emissions regulations since that time.

Last fall, a U.S. Forest Service test of moss growing around Portland showed high levels of arsenic, chromium and cadmium near the Bullseye plant. The findings spurred the state Department of Environmental Quality to, among other things, issue a cease-and-desist order to Bullseye Glass in mid-May, saying the company had to stop using some compounds until it could install emission control equipment.

In early June, the company and DEQ reached an agreement on installation of emission equipment.

In the lawsuit, Valerie Silva said she was told in early February about the possibility that emissions from the plant could be dangerous because of testing in the company parking area. She routinely took walks around the neighborhood while working at the Fred Meyer offices, breathing in the toxic emissions.

Silva’s attorneys claim Bullseye was negligent in allowing emissions of arsenic, chromium and cadmium in the region. They claim Valerie Silva’s lung cancer was caused by breathing the toxic emissions for years.

EDITOR'S NOTE: A version of this story incorrectly included a reference to Spectrum Glass Co., which does not have a plant in Portland. Pamplin Media Group regrets the error.