Brad Pitt's Make It Right Foundation Sues Architect Over Homes Residents Say Are Falling Apart
The Make It Right Foundation is also being sued by two people who claim the homes built for them after Hurricane Katrina “were deficiently constructed"
UPDATE: In a statement provided to PEOPLE, Brad Pitt’s charitable organization, Make It Right, stated that it “has filed a lawsuit against its former executive architect, John Williams, and his firm for monetary damages to remediate and repair affected homes in the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans, arising from his engagement with the Foundation. Make It Right continues to work proactively with homeowners in the Lower 9th Ward, and we will make no further comment on the case at this time.”
Brad Pitt‘s Make It Right Foundation, which built homes for New Orleans residents after Hurricane Katrina destroyed their neighborhoods in 2005, has been hit with a lawsuit by two people who claim the homes built for them “were deficiently constructed and built,” according to a complaint obtained by PEOPLE.
Pitt and the Make It Right Foundation haven’t commented, but a source familiar with the situation tells PEOPLE that “Brad has confidence in the Make It Right team; he made a promise to the people of the Lower Ninth and he intends to keep fulfilling it, and to keep contributing money as he has been all this time.” The source adds that “repairs began months ago.”
The lawsuit was brought by residents Lloyd Francis and Jennifer Decuir, who state in the document that the homeowners “were and are extremely grateful to Mr. Pitt for spearheading the rebuilding of the Lower Ninth Ward because their neighborhood housed more than their homes. It housed their community.”
Their lawyer, Ron Austin, told NOLA.com, residents “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.”
Some of the problems with the homes include mold from trapped water, poor air ventilation, structural problems, electrical problems, plumbing problems and rotten wood, according to the complaint.
Francis and Decuir allege the foundation was aware of issues with the materials used to build homes by 2013 but “never provided homeowners with notice of these design and material defects” despite the residents paying for mortgages on the homes.
In 2016, 2017 and 2018, the Make It Right Foundation allegedly sent engineers to inspect the homes and to write reports on the state of the houses. The residents repeatedly asked for the reports but were told they weren’t ready or were ignored, according to the complaint.
While members of the foundation promised residents they would provide the engineering reports, homeowners were allegedly told they needed to sign “a packet” in order to begin repairs.
Francis and Decuir claim the packet contained a non-disclosure form and a binding arbitration document that needed resident signatures — which they allege Make It Right tried to gain while they were under duress, according to the complaint.
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The two, who state they are representing all the residents who bought homes from the foundation, claim the foundation members “have caused and will continue to cause plaintiffs to suffer significant mental distress” by continuing to ignore the state of their homes.
The lawsuit comes as Pitt has been busy filming his upcoming Quentin Tarantino film, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, as well as focusing on his legal dispute with ex Angelina Jolie over the custody of their six children.
Pitt and Jolie, 43, recently had a temporary agreement ordered by the judge on their case that laid out a detailed schedule for the actor to spend time with Zahara, 13, Shiloh, 12, Pax, 14 and 10-year-old Vivienne and her twin brother Knox. (Oldest son Maddox was excluded after the court dictated he is old enough to decide for himself how much time he wants to spend with his father.)
Jolie has “tried to bridge the gap between the kids and their dad,” a source previously told PEOPLE. “She’s worked to achieve reinstatement for them. But it’s now between Brad, his kids, and the court. The court will determine things.”
The children spent much of the summer with Jolie in London as she filmed Maleficent 2, but they normally reside in Los Angeles, where Pitt also lives.