Brad Pitt (pictured Tuesday) has denied that he is to blame for the deterioration of the New Orleans homes his foundation, Make It Right, built for victims of Hurricane Katrina
Brad Pitt has denied that he is to blame for the deterioration of the homes his foundation Make It Right built for victims of Hurricane Katrina.
Pitt’s foundation sought to build 150 homes in the Lower Ninth ward of New Orleans that were storm-safe, solar-powered, and ‘green’ for the price of $150,000 in 2007.
Two residents of Pitt’s homes filed a lawsuit in Orleans Parish Civil District Court in September accusing Make It Right of unfair trade practices, breach of contract and fraud.
Pitt said on Tuesday that the claims made against him personally should be dismissed.
He claimed he ‘does not owe a duty to third parties’, according to court documents obtained by The Blast.
The court document also says that Pitt ‘cannot simply be lumped together with other defendants and held liable for alleged conduct in which he is not even alleged to have participated’.
The actor’s attorney argued that the residents’ claims of ‘negligent infliction of emotional distress’ can’t be brought up unless they suffered physical injuries, which they have not.
In September, two residents filed a lawsuit against Pitt’s foundation, claiming that the charity sold them ‘defectively and improperly constructed homes’.
A lawsuit was filed by two New Orleans Lower Ninth ward homeowners in September. It accused the charity of unfair trade practices, breach of contract, and fraud. A home built by Make It Right is seen above
Many of the houses, including the one pictured above, are falling apart, with roofs caving in, wood rotting and walls collapsing
‘While the citizens of the 9th Ward are grateful to Brad Pitt they were forced to file this lawsuit because the Make It Right Foundation built substandard homes, that are deteriorating at a rapid pace while the homeowners are stuck with mortgages on properties that have diminished values,’ Ron Austin, the attorney representing the Lower Ninth Ward residents, said in a statement to NBC News.
‘We have filed to make Make It Right make it right,’ he added.
The project started in 2007 and by 2016 had spent $26.9million building 109 homes before construction was halted.
Although Make It Right stopped about 40 homes short of its goal, it led the most visible recovery effort in New Orleans.
The homes were priced at an average of $150,000 for residents looking to resettle.
But residents have complained that the homes aren’t what they signed up for with many houses falling apart, some with rotting wood, plumbing issues, and roofs caving in.
The complaint said Make It Right ‘fraudulently deprived homeowners of their right to pursue legal actions under Louisiana’s New Home Warranty Act’ because the charity knew about issues with the homes’ building materials and designs – but never alerted homeowners.
The lawsuit claimed that the plaintiffs’ homes were ‘deficiently constructed and built’ with ‘defective products’ that led to damage such as the growth of mold and air quality problems due to improper ventilation.
Pitt (right, in August 2007) said on Tuesday that the claims made against him personally should be dismissed. He claimed he ‘does not owe a duty to third parties’, according to court documents
Photos taken by Dailymail.com show another devastated property built by the charity
According to a suit filed by the residents, the homes had structural problems, electrical problems and plumbing issues
According to the suit, the homes also had structural problems, electrical problems, plumbing issues and rotten wood.
The complaint said that Make It Right arranged for engineer inspections of the homes ‘allegedly brought in specifically to render a report on the state of the Make It Right homes’.
But homeowners were never given access to those reports.
The lawsuit asserted that engineers found issues in the homes but the charity didn’t inform homeowners of the problems, citing a portion of the foundation’s 2013 tax filing which accounts for $4.3million in ‘warranty and repair liabilities’.
It added that Make It Right gave homeowners a nondisclosure agreement and documents that bound them to arbitration before agreeing to making repairs.
But, the lawsuit said the charity didn’t explain these documents to the homeowners, ‘fraudulently’ obtaining signatures ‘on agreements that would deprive homeowners of important legal rights while the homeowners are under duress’.
The complaint said the homeowners noticed problems with the home as early as 2013 but they thought Make It Right would sort out the repairs.
‘The homeowners are gravely concerned that their homes, which suffer serious structural problems, will not last as long as their mortgages,’ the complaint says.
Make It Right subsequently sued the architect of the homes in mid-September.
The foundation filed a lawsuit saying architecture firm John C. Williams Architects LLC’s designs led to $20million in damages.
Make It Right is pointing the finger at Williams Architects, which the charity says it gave $4million dollars to produce architectural drawings for the sustainable homes.
The lawsuit, filed by attorney Victor J. Franckiewicz, Jr in Civil District Court, says Williams Architect’s defective designs led to a myriad of problems with the homes and that repairing damage inflicted by rain and humidity would cost millions.
From 2007 to 2016 Make It Right spent $26.9million and built over 100 ‘green’ homes sold for $150,000
‘The homeowners are gravely concerned that their homes, which suffer serious structural problems, will not last as long as their mortgages,’ the complaint says. A finished Make It Right home pictured above in 2009 Brad Pitt and Ellen in New Orleans for Make it Right in 2014
Make It Right said that Williams was responsible for failures to waterproof the structures, many of which had insufficiently sloped roofs, and failed to repair the homes.
The foundation claimed to be left in the dark about the defects.
One derelict seven-year-home became so rotted, it was demolished at the insistence of neighbors in June.
In 2015, Williams was granted permission to replace the roof of that home that still had to be tore down.
In June, Williams acknowledged that one or two of the Make It Right homes ‘may be falling apart’.
It also alleged that Williams Architects knew their designs ‘did not meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design platinum certification requirements, but failed to disclose that fact,’ and the firm ‘failed to communicate critical information’ and ‘suppressed the truth’, according to WDSU.
At the time, Make It Right pledged to ‘continue to work proactively with homeowners in the Lower 9th Ward’.