A three-year legal battle leaves Lennar Inc. and developer FivePoint Holdings on the hook for $6.3 million, after a U.S. District Court judge just approved a settlement with homeowners who claimed they were sold property that was unsafe after soil mitigation efforts — something that the firm responsible for cleaning the site denies.*
The revitalization of the Hunters Point Shipyard had a history of Naval use and possible toxic materials on it when developers Lennar Inc. and FivePoint Holdings, and their engineering firm TtEC (Tetra Tech EC, a subsidiary of Tetra Tech, Inc.) tried to transform the essentially abandoned area into a vibrant new housing project. Whether there was still contamination in the site’s soil that has impacted contemporary residents has been at the center of this legal battle for years. TtEC denies all wrongdoing, and the company did not take part in this latest settlement.*
A large group of Hunters Point residents, who said they’d been misled that the property was clean, brought a class action lawsuit against the developers in 2018. It certainly helped their case when two now former TtEC employees were sent to prison the next year, admitting that they had faked soil samples to hide the presence of toxic materials. And now SFBay reports that a U.S. District Court judge approved a $6.3 million settlement to those homeowners in the lawsuit — though that settlement is with the developers and not TtEC.
"The battle is just beginning — this case is part of the largest environmental fraud litigation in the country’s history,” victorious plaintiffs' attorney Joe Cotchett of the firm Cotchett, Pitre, and McCarthy said in a statement. “At their core, the cases are about environmental racism. Southeast San Francisco carries a tremendous environmental burden — it is the most polluted part of the city and has been for generations.”
According to SF Bay, “the settlement will be given to plaintiffs in payouts ranging from hundreds of dollars to tens of thousands.”
Image: Google Street View
* This post has been corrected to show that Tetra Tech, Inc. (TTI) was not involved in the shipyard cleanup, which was conducted by TTI's subsidiary TetraTechEC, Inc.(TtEC). This post has also been corrected to show that neither TTI nor TtEC participated in this settlement, and both deny all wrongdoing. TTI's attorneys also clarify that the parcel where the new residences were constructed was a former Naval barracks, and no shipyard or radiological decontamination activities took place on that land.
The post also has been corrected to show that the two former employees who went to prison, Stephen Rolfe and Justin Hubbard, are former employees of TtEC, not TTI. Neither TtEC nor TTI has any affiliation with Lennar Inc. or Five Points Holdings.
A previous version of this post repeated claims by plaintiffs about alleged health effects from living on or near the shipyard which have not been proven in court.