Class-action suit alleges Portland illegally discarded property while dismantling homeless encampments
A class-action lawsuit filed against Portland, Ore., on Monday alleges that city contractors illegally discarded property while dismantling homeless encampments.
According to the suit, four plaintiffs argue that contractors acting on behalf of the city failed to document and label the items that they moved from the encampments. The plaintiffs also say that over the last six months they have had personal property confiscated and they have been unable to get it back.
Oregon law states that Portland is required to store the property that is “recognizable as belonging to a person and that has apparent use” for at least 30 days in a warehouse so that its owner can claim it. It also allows the property to be discarded if it is determined not to have an obvious use or is deemed unsanitary.
One plaintiff, Jennifer Bryant, told Oregon Public Broadcasting that she has experienced four sweeps in the last six months, resulting in her losing all of her clothing, her tent, a laptop, sleeping bag and bedding.
“Everything’s thrown into one truck. They don’t know who you are. How do they know what is yours?” she told the news outlet. “It would be like going to the city dump and saying ‘OK here you go, find your stuff.’”
The lawsuit was filed by attorneys with the Oregon Justice Resource Center, law firm OlsenDaines and the law office of Kelly D. Jones on behalf of the plaintiffs, and is asking for the city to change its policy. It is not asking for monetary compensation, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting.
“We hope the Mayor will simply agree to the relief we’re seeking, rather than waste hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars litigating against our team of volunteer attorneys for the next year,” attorney Michael Fuller said, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting.
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