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Group advertises lawsuit against rail company, but details sketchy
BARSTOW • A group of attorneys is offering services to residents living within 3,000 feet of railroad tracks, according to a flier that’s making its way around some local homes.
The flier states, “attorney’s to suit BNSF Railway/Rail Yard; Property Rights violation by smoke/nose.” A copy of the handout was provided to the Desert Dispatch by local resident Loren Ray.
The note goes on to state, “qualify for lawsuit if 3,000 feet from railroad; BNSF to buy your home: up to net $250,000.”
Ray said he found the flier on his truck about three weeks ago, and was visited at home by a group of people wanting to take dirt samples.
“A few days later there were some guys that came along and knocked on my door,” Ray said. “They said ‘hello, I’d like to take some dirt samples of your yard.’ ”
“I asked them for what?” Ray said. “They said ‘did you get the flier?’ and I said I sure did. And they said they’re going around the neighborhood taking samples of dirt from houses in the neighborhood. It was about a possible lawsuit, which was mentioned on the flier.”
When the Desert Dispatch called the phone number on the flier, a man who answered the phone refused to answer questions or identify himself.
The men that collected the dirt samples from Ray’s home did not identify a particular organization they worked for, according to Ray.
“No organization,” Ray said. “I asked they guy who he was with and I believe he said he was with the attorney.”
Lena Kent, spokeswoman for BNSF, said she is familiar with the fliers and said they’re being sent out by a group led by a man named Nick Panchev, who has tried to lead similar efforts in Needles and claims to be affiliated with Erin Brockovich, according to a June report in the Desert Star newspaper.
In the Desert Star article, Brockovich, who famously sued Pacific Gas & Electric Company regarding water contamination in Hinkley, states that she’s not affiliated with Pavech’s group.
Kent said she’s seen the current flier going around for about a year, but BNSF has never directly been contacted by Pavech.
“They have never contacted our company, and they’ve never filed a local suit,” Kent said in a voicemail message to the Desert Dispatch.