Another week, another legal filing regarding the Leaning Tower of San Francisco, a.k.a. Millennium Tower which has also sunk into the ground a reportedly unexpected sixteen inches since it was completed in 2009. After we learned earlier this month that the City Attorney had filed a civil suit against developer Millennium Partners, now the Business Times has it exclusively that a pair of homeowners have filed their own civil claim against the city and the Transbay Joint Powers Authority asserting that they conspired with the developer to conceal information about the sinking of the building from potential condo buyers. So, to recap, fingers have been pointed every which way, as predicted.
The claim, which should be followed shortly by a lawsuit pending a response from the city, comes from homeowners Gerald and Patricia Dodson the same couple who spoke to Matier & Ross back in August just a week after the news about the sinking tower went public. They accuse the Department of Building Inspection of "wanton and reckless misconduct" both for not taking action after it was discovered the tower had settled 8.3 inches as early as February 2009, and for not considering the potential effects of the Transbay Transit Center construction next door Millennium Partners, you'll recall, puts the blame for the building's sinking squarely on that project and the dewatering that occurred in the ground next to the tower.
The Dodsons' claim further suggests that a confidentiality agreement signed in February 2010 by Millennium Partners, TJPA attorney Andrew Schwartz ,and two lawyers from the City Attorney's Office, Sheryl Bergman and George Wong, proves that the city had a hand in defrauding buyers. The nature of the agreement remains murky however, with NBC Bay Area having reported in September that it seemed to relate to the tower's settlement problem, but it remains unknown what was discussed in meetings between the parties that was agreed to kept confidential. We had heard in September, however, via statements from the TJPA, that they entered into the confidentiality agreement with Millennium Partners because "the parties agree[d] in advance to limit the TJPA’s exposure to potential litigation by MP" due to the sinking issue.
Gerald Dodson, a patent lawyer, says to the Business Times, "The city and Transbay are culpable by keeping it secret... My lawsuit is intended to bring that out in the open."
City Attorney's Office spokesperson John Coté tells the paper in a statement, "We share the Dodsons’ frustration that the Millennium Tower developer didn’t disclose information about the building sinking. But any notion that the city was involved in some kind of conspiracy to defraud home buyers is completely baseless. Rather than pursuing a claim against the city, I think it would be more productive if the Dodsons focused their energy on who is truly at fault here: the developer who essentially sold them a lemon."