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U of M law students sue owners of blighted Memphis properties

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — University of Memphis law students are helping the city fight blight.  On Thursday they filed suits against dozens of property owners in several neighborhoods.

"We are filing against the properties. Each student had five, so that's a total of 30-acres we filed today," said student Courtney Boykins.

One of the properties the students want fixed is a home in the 1300 block of Wabash. WREG saw several code enforcement warnings stabled to the door, and trash in the yard and overgrown brush.

Students say it's the same story at the other properties.

The lawsuits filed essentially demand the owners get the buildings up to code. The students will handle all aspects of the lawsuits with supervision of faculty and the staff attorney.

It's through the Neighborhood Preservation Clinic, which launched in 2015.

"These are properties that, for the most part, have been under the long monitoring of the city of Memphis code enforcement," said clinic co-director Danny Schaffzin.

Many of the properties' owners are in other parts of the country, which could be tricky trying to track them down.

But the city's Chief Legal Officer Bruce McMullen tells us there's been plenty of success stories in the past.

"Sometimes just the filing of a lawsuit, you have  a property owner come forward and clean up the property," said McMullen.

As for Boykins, she said she and her classmates will work hard to make that happen in the city they've all grown to love.

"We just want to see good things happen," she said.

What happens next: the owners will have some time to come forward and bring the properties up to code. If they don't, the city will then take further action like demolition.

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