Who Pays for Bomb Home Damage?

The decision to burn down the home is raising questions about liability

By Paul Krueger and Michelle Wayland
|  Thursday, Dec 2, 2010  |  Updated 7:09 AM PDT
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Residents Advised of Health Risks in Explosives Burn

North County Times

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Who Pays for Bomb Home Damage?

The decision to burn down the home is raising questions about liability
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The owner of the so-called “bomb factory” home could have a hard time collecting money from his insurance to rebuild after officials torch the home.

"If you have a property, you have a duty to maintain it properly. You have a duty to know what's going on in the property, to periodically visit the property,” said attorney and legal expert David Casey, Jr.

Experts say the discovery of the explosive material, and the County's decision to burn down the home, raise interesting and unusual questions about liability.

Property owners near the home might try to sue the County if the fire spreads or smoke damages their property. But Casey says the County has a lot of legal protection and can argue that the problem would be worse if it didn't destroy the dangerous home.

"If they left the home as it is, with the bombs, those homes would have no value,” Casey said.

He said if other homes are damaged by the fire or smoke, those home owners might get money from the owner of the bomb house or his insurance company.

Real estate agents claim home values in that area will definitely fall, but maybe only for a few years.

"You're going to have that stigma that's going to be there, because people will know that this is exactly where it is. This is going to be an open wound," said David Hastings from Coldwell Banker Real Estate in Mission Valley.

He says buyers may be concerned that soil in the neighborhood could be contaminated by explosive material and that children could hurt themselves just by stepping somewhere.

"The inventory is so good,” Hastings said. “You have a lot of choices, Why go there? Why take that chance?"

The bomb-making materials were discovered Nov. 18 after gardener Mario Garcia, 49, was injured while working in the back yard of the home on Via Scott.

"So if there's just that tiny amount that can harm a grown man, imagine what it can possibly do to a child."

He says values will decline by at least 10 percent and maybe up to 20 percent.

Sellers must tell would be buyers exactly what happened with bomb house.

"One hundred percent. If I'm representing the seller I'm completely disclosing everything that I know about what's going on, including names and numbers of the local authorities. They have to know what's going on there, so they can make the right decision." 

Click here for the map of the evacuation and shelter inside areas. 

Click here for the presentation from the community forum.

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