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Tilting Tower Suit Seeks Fix

Monday, April 3, 2017

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The Millennium Tower (San Francisco) saga continues with the largest legal action yet; the sinking and tilting building’s homeowners association is suing the developer and others for more than $200 million in damages.

The suit is the only one in the litany of litigation that seeks a permanent fix for the luxury condominium skyscraper, which has sunk 16 inches and tilted 2 inches to the northwest since it was completed in 2009. It was originally estimated to settle about 4 to 6 inches in its lifetime, however, experts now say it could eventually sink as much as 31 inches.

'Swift Relief'

The suit—which names Millennium Partners, the Transbay Joint Powers Authority, Mission Street Development and others—was filed by attorney Dan Petrocelli on behalf of the Millennium Tower Association.

Sergio Ruiz, CC-BY-2.0, via Flickr

The developer, Millennium Partners, blames the Transbay Joint Powers Authority, contending construction on the adjacent property and subsequent “dewatering” has weakened the soil beneath the tower, causing it to sink.

The association hired Petrocelli in February, who is best known for winning a $33.5 million wrongful-death civil judgment against O.J. Simpson in 1997 and more recently for the $25 million settlement in the suit against Trump University.

“The homeowners association and its residents who purchased the units are the innocent victims,” Petrocelli told the San Francisco Chronicle in February. “And the people who built this building and were involved in this project—as well as others who contributed to its problems—all have to pay their fair share. I am confident we will be able to secure swift relief in this case.”

The tower’s sinking has spurred endless finger-pointing. The developer, Millennium Partners, blames the Transbay Joint Powers Authority, contending construction on the adjacent property and subsequent “dewatering” has weakened the soil beneath the tower, causing it to sink. The TJPA says that its neighboring work would not have that impact and blames the developer for using 80-foot friction piles sunk into sand instead of 200-foot piles that would have reached bedrock to better support the structure.

'False Claims'

“We are disappointed and puzzled that the (homeowners association) board now is shifting gears to a disruptive strategy that leaves us no choice but to defend ourselves against false claims,” P.J. Johnston, a spokesperson for Millennium Partners, said in a statement.

Daniel Ramirez, CC-BY 2.0, via Flickr

The tower was originally estimated to settle about 4 to 6 inches in its lifetime, however, experts now say it could eventually sink as much as 31 inches.

A spokesperson for the authority declined to comment to the Chronicle and instead referred to those previous statements about the groundwater work’s irrelevance.

Multiple suits have been filed, and in February the city’s Board of Supervisors began conducting a series of hearings to determine what the city staff knew and when were they informed about the tower’s structural issues.

The association, however, has the sole authority to actually sue for fixes and Millennium Partners has reportedly already hired Sage Engineers to investigate the foundation for potential solutions.

Petrocelli has not commented on what specific fixes the association would accept, citing that it’s still unclear who was responsible and the root cause has yet to be determined.

   

Tagged categories: Architecture; Business matters; Construction; Fraud; Good Technical Practice; Lawsuits; North America

Comment from peter gibson, (4/3/2017, 12:36 PM)

The damage is done.There is no fix. Interesting case.Will be following. Love the finger pointing. Friction piers vs. bedrock. Saved money ; now a big problem on their hands.


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