Lawsuits mount as fight over sinking Millennium Tower continues

More lawsuits have been filed as homeowners, the developer and government agencies battle over San Francisco’s troubled Millennium Tower, a luxury high rise that has sunk farther than expected since its completion in 2009.

A lawsuit filed Friday by a group of nine homeowners represented by Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy alleges that the developer, Millennium Partners, was warned in a 2005 geotechnical report and memo that the estimated rates of building settlement had uncertainty rates as high as plus or minus 50 percent.

SEE RELATED: Condo owners in sinking Millennium Tower estimate homes worth $0

The lawsuit alleges Millennium Partners withheld information about the extent of the building’s settlement from prospective homebuyers, and also names the Transbay Joint Powers Authority for improperly building on the adjacent property and contributing to the damage.

The lawsuit is only the latest in a string of litigation filed since last August when reports began surfacing that the 58-story tower at 301 Mission St. had already sunk 16 inches, as much as it was projected to sink over its lifetime.

Another group of homeowners represented by attorney Gerald Dodson filed a lawsuit with more than 200 plaintiffs in January, also alleging the developer knew about the building’s problems before unit sales started in 2009. City Attorney Dennis Herrera has made similar allegations in a lawsuit filed against the developer in November.

The homeowners association has also signaled that it is preparing to sue after months of negotiations with the developer, announcing last week that it had hired prominent trial lawyer Daniel Petrocelli as its lead litigation counsel.

Millennium Partners have said the allegations that the firm concealed information from homebuyers have no merit, and has blamed the settlement on excessive groundwater pumping at the neighboring Transbay Transit Center site, where work began in 2010.

Millennium subsidiary Mission Street Development filed a cross-complaint against the Transbay Joint Powers Authority last week alleging that the authority knew its dewatering activities were causing problems at the Millennium site and actively worked to conceal a breach in a shoring wall that made those problems worse.

The Transbay Joint Powers Authority has in turn blamed the building’s settlement on its design, which combines heavy concrete construction with a concrete slab foundation and piles that go into sand rather than down to bedrock.

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