BRAD Pitt and his co-workers have “blood on their hands” over his non-profit’s “rotten” homes scandal amid a class action lawsuit, a former home owner has claimed, although the star insists he’s not to blame.
The Make It Right charity was meant to be the savior for those who lost everything in New Orleans’ most deprived and predominantly black area of the Lower Ninth Ward in 2005 following Hurricane Katrina.
But the foundation allegedly made a mess of its ambitious building project and is currently facing a class action lawsuit over 106 houses, which were “deficiently constructed” with “defective products,” according to the suit seen by The Sun.
It was initially filed by two residents in 2018, Lloyd Francis and Jennifer Decuir, and has since moved to federal court, with the organization accused of fraud, breach of contract and unfair trade practices.
Resident Kamaria Allen’s Make It Right house was finally demolished last October after sitting empty for nine years due what she claims are “advanced mold rot caused by a chronic moisture condition.”
Her parents still live in a “MIR” property with toxic mold and high CO2 levels, which allegedly caused dad Keith to give up work, while her mom Sharon became severely asthmatic, and younger brother Khalid suffered memory loss and speech problems.
Kamaria, whose family pulled out of the class action suit as it has been dragging on for years, told The Sun exclusively: “Our blood is on their hands.
“They really just sat back and watched while multiple people lost their quality of life without attempting to make it right when they had all of the resources.
“They came in and destroyed a community that was already trying to come back from the dead.
“I don’t understand how Brad Pitt or anyone else affiliated with this organization can sleep at night. They are killing people.”
She added: “A lot of these people are very sick and are living a very poor quality of life for the rest of their lives.”
The Sun has reached out to Brad’s rep who declined to comment on the record.
A lawyer close to the litigation said: “This is obviously a very difficult situation for anyone whose home was impacted by this.
“This very sad story has been told several times, so hopefully current litigation will hold the people who managed this project responsible.”
According to a new filing to the Civil District Court for the Parish of Orleans, MIR have filed a cross-claim in the class action lawsuit, slamming former directors and board members.
MIR claims they were the ones in control of the purse strings and hoodwinked fellow directors and the board, including Brad, into believing the houses were being built on time, on budget and with the right materials.
In the actor’s defense to the petition, he denies all the claims against him personally, stating in court documents that he could not be held “legally responsible” for damages and says he acted “in good faith, with rational basis, and without any unlawful or wrongful intent.”
Brad’s law firm, Schnekas, Evans, McGoey & McEachin, even go a step further, stating to one claim: “Defendant affirmatively pleads the defense of contributory negligence and/or comparative fault, as any damages suffered by Plaintiffs were caused or increased by negligence of Plaintiffs.”
A judge previously denied the A-lister’s request to remove himself as a defendant in the lawsuit earlier this year – meaning he could still be potentially liable for damages.
Kamaria, 37, has been left feeling desperate over her family’s situation, and claims she has even tried to involve the FBI.
She adds: “It’s gotten to the point where I tried to get the FBI involved to get Make It Right on mortgage fraud, because some of those people in our area have paid up to $100,000 for their homes, yet they are stuck with these mortgages.
“I reported it to the mortgage fraud department for ‘significant community impact’ in my submission to the FBI because that term is listed on their website as one of the key topics that they investigate.”
The Sun has seen proof of Kamaria’s FBI complaint, but the FBI is yet to respond to her.
She says it’s been a living nightmare for those who’ve been left high and dry by the non-profit, and have no way of contacting MIR.
Its website is down, the phone number on its Facebook page is disconnected, and the official Twitter account has not been active since May 2016.
The foundation’s two offices are in a chaotic state with residents complaining that boxes of files are piled high inside and they barely ever see any staff.
The Sun has been provided photos from various sources showing six shipping containers situated on Make It Right land on Jourdan St, Lower Ninth.
Attorney Ron Austin, who is heading up the class action lawsuit, submitted pictures which show the containers full of filing cabinets, blueprints and papers, and claims they were previously left open.
Ron is suing the foundation, its insurers and executives, including Pitt, on behalf of residents, who claim to have suffered illnesses, headaches and infrastructural issues on their properties.
He says: “There are six containers of Make It Right documents parked in the community, some of which appear to contain homeowners’ documents, some of which may be confidential.
“You have 106 homes that need to be torn down and rebuilt and no one, including Brad Pitt, the Make It Right founder, has stepped forward to take responsibility. Most of these homeowners still have mortgages.
“The residents are complaining as their houses are falling apart, we’re facing another hurricane season with a lot of uncertainty.”
The City found MIR committed two code violations regarding sanitation and ‘rodent harborage’ after inspecting the property in March, April and July.
The nonprofit has been fined $500 a day, which has gone unpaid, according to documents seen by The Sun.
MIR is behind on its 990 tax returns and, in May, filed accounts for 2018, which revealed it had lost just over $1.9million combined in 2017 and 2018 and had only $242,555 in net assets.
According to the cross-claim from MIR in Ron’s class action lawsuit, they hit out at former executive director Thomas Darden III, interim executive director and board chairman Samuel Whitt, treasurer/secretary S.H. Fogleman and board member Maurice Coleman.
HOUSES FALLING APART
Its lawyers, Fishman Haygood LLP, have made a series of allegations, blaming them for mismanaging $65million, made up of “raised funds from individuals, corporations, state and federal grants, to build 150 energy-efficient properties after the hurricane hit.”
The document filed by MIR attorneys adds: “Cross-Claim Defendants exercised pervasive control over the foundation’s affairs from the foundation’s establishment in 2007 until 2016.
“At various times until March 2016 and during their respective tenures, Cross-Claim Defendants controlled the flow of critical information to other parties, including to other Directors.
“As a result, the foundation was deprived of critical information related to the production of construction documents, budgeting for the construction of homes, the status of construction, the impact the financing had on the construction schedule and the construction itself, and the cost of repairs to the homes.
“From the time of the foundation’s incorporation, Cross-Claim Defendants structured the control functions of the foundation such that no person outside of the small group of Cross-Claim Defendants could handle financial aspects of the foundation such as setting up accounts in the foundation’s name, accessing and moving cash to and from these accounts or signing foundation checks and reviewing the status of balances and uses of foundation cash.”
The Sun reached out to the former director’s lawyers, who declined to comment, but made reference to the “three-year statue of limitations for claims involving alleged breaches of fiduciary duty.”
MIR allegedly waited over five years to make this cross-claim, and the former directors want it tossed out by a judge.
Despite a healthy bank balance of $65million, which MIR says was enough to build 150 homes by 2010, the suit accuses the execs of stalling and lying to fellow directors, with “a stop-start approach to construction.”
MIR is claiming that as a result of these”‘breaches of their fiduciary duties,” then the former staff are solely liable for any damages from homeowners.
Kamaria was forced out of her home in 2012 and came to a settlement with Make It Right, signing a non-disclosure agreement.
But now she’s speaking out as she claims her mother Sharon, 67, and father Keith, 65 have been left to suffer for the last decade.
Kamaria, who is now based in Jefferson, Louisiana, lived with her parents for a short time after her own MIR home was condemned.
She says: “I moved into my parents’ house, instead of my health getting better, it got even worse.
“My parents live in a very damp and moist atmosphere on top of it being contaminated with quite high levels of carbon dioxide.
“That’s why my dad is moving around so slowly, because by this point, my dad lost his job because his health condition was that bad.
“My mother developed asthma and my younger brother was dealing with memory loss and speech issues when he was always a perfectly healthy kid.
“For my father, he lost everything when he was a young kid to Hurricane Betsy. Hurricane Katrina, he lost everything. Now we’re in Hurricane Make It Right.”
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