Judge Refuses to Remove Brad Pitt From Lawsuit Over Hurricane Katrina Victims' Deteriorating Homes
Brad Pitt will remain a defendant in the lawsuit that claims his charitable foundation Make It Right built inadequate housing for Hurricane Katrina victims.
The Times-Picayune reports that Civil District Court Judge Rachael Johnson ruled that Pitt would remain a defendant in a September 2018 lawsuit — in which Pitt and his foundation were sued by homeowners who claimed the homes Make It Right built for them were seriously faulty and deteriorating at a rapid pace — in a decision made last week.
In doing so, Johnson denied Pitt’s November 2018 request to dismiss him from the lawsuit, in which he claimed he had no personal involvement, instead suing the executive architect of the houses, John Williams, on behalf of Make It Right.
At that time, Pitt argued that the claims made against him personally should be dismissed because he “does not owe a duty to third parties,” according to court documents obtained by The Blast.
His attorney argued the residents have not provided any facts “that support a conclusion that Mr. Pitt owed some personal duty to plaintiffs,” according to the motion.
The documents also argued the residents didn’t provide “factual allegations” that the War Machine actor had a hand in any “wrongful conduct” toward the homeowners either through direct actions or communications.
Pitt’s attorney maintained that the plaintiffs’ claims of “negligent infliction of emotional distress” can’t be brought up unless they suffered physical injuries, which they have not, according to the court documents.
The plaintiffs’ lawyer, Ron Austin, did not respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment at the time.
In a statement provided to PEOPLE after the initial lawsuit was filed, 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.”
The lawsuit against Pitt and Make It Right was brought by residents Lloyd Francis and Jennifer Decuir, who stated in the complaint 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.”
While the foundation’s goal may have been to build affordable homes, residents claimed the houses “were deficiently constructed and built,” according to a previous complaint obtained by PEOPLE.
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.
While members of the foundation promised residents they would provide the engineering reports from inspections, 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.
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.