An Address Like No Other – The Millennium Tower Litigation

Originally heralded as one of the “Top 10 Residential Buildings in the World” and “An Address Like No Other,” San Francisco’s 58-story Millennium Tower obtained unanticipated notoriety when it was finally disclosed to the public and residents that the building has sunk 16 inches and is leaning 2 inches at its base. A wave of finger pointing ensued between the building developers and owners of the neighboring Transbay Terminal project, with dueling teams of experts blaming excessive dewatering, failure to drill down to bedrock, or other factors, for the unexpected settlement.  Whatever its cause, however, it is clear that the building’s developers knew the building was sinking yet did not disclose this vital information when selling units to unsuspecting homeowners.

Nearly a dozen separate homeowner suits are currently pending in the complex litigation department of San Francisco Superior Court. The goal of these actions is to ensure recovery to homeowners whose property values have plummeted amidst the uncertainty and stigma of living at the now infamous address.[1] To make matters worse, key questions still being debated are whether the building is safe, how much more tilting and sinking will happen, and whether the existing conditions can be repaired.

A report published on March 13 by NBC Bay Area highlights that the building is not as seismically sound as once thought.[2] According to structural engineer, Ronald Hamburger, the building’s outriggers – designed to absorb the bending and twisting caused by major earthquakes – may not perform as desired and could break apart.[3] Structural engineer, Joe Maffei, told NBC that with the building’s outrigger design a major earthquake could result in the building being red tagged.[4] This is unsettling news for homeowners, some of whom have moved out of the building, but are unable to sell.[5]

Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy represents several homeowners in connection with their claims against the developers and the neighboring Transbay Joint Powers Authority. The homeowner complaints allege fraud and negligent misrepresentation against the developers for failing to disclose the excessive settlement of the building, and claims of inverse condemnation and nuisance against the Transbay Joint Powers Authority for its role in interfering with the homeowners’ use of their property by destabilizing the Millennium Tower through the excavation and dewatering associated with the new Transbay Terminal. If you are interested in learning more, please contact Eric Buescher, Julie Fieber or John Thyken.

[1] http://sf.curbed.com/2016/9/8/12846192/millennium-tower-cut-prices 

[2] http://www.nbcbayarea.com/investigations/More-Bad-News-for-San-Francisco-Troubled-Millennium-Tower-416066263.html 

[3] Id.

[4] Id.

[5] Id.

[6] Id.