August 28, 2006
A Class Action Suit At The Metropolitan?
According to a tipster, the lawyer who filed the class action suit on behalf of homeowners at the Beacon has also filed a similar class action suit on behalf of homeowners at the Metropolitan (333-355 First). From the tipster, “I heard he pitched Metropolitan homeowners at 6:00 and one of the owners drove him over to the Beacon at 8:00 to meet with their homeowners, then hit both buildings with lawsuits on Friday.”
Can anyone confirm this tip or provide us with a copy of the filing? Keep in mind that if the filing can be confirmed, the homeowners in the Metropolitan will face the same challenges as the homeowners in the Beacon with regard to refinancing or reselling their condominiums.
In related news, the word on the street is that the fee agreement in the Beacon class action suit calls for the attorney to keep
somewhere between 40 and 50 percent of any “gross recovery” (but that he will lower his fees to 33% if at least half of the homeowners join as plaintiffs).
UPDATE: It's official, Superior Court Case Number CGC-06-455064 ("BEN BEDI VS. FOLSOM/FIRST, LLC") was filed on August 11, 2006. (Download filing (pdf) at Box.net) Kudos to our "plugged in" readers, commenters, and tipsters.
First Published: August 28, 2006 1:02 AM
Comments from "Plugged In" Readers
I'd like to know the attorney's name. Sounds like a real scumbag.
Posted by: Mike at August 28, 2006 8:04 AM
Posted by: Anonymous at August 28, 2006 8:20 AM
The guy's name is Patrick Catalano. He hit 3 condo buildings in August - 2 in SF and one in San Diego. I heard his contingency fee is 50%. Who would sign up with this guy?
Posted by: Anonymous at August 28, 2006 8:24 AM
I live at the Met and this is the first I've heard of it. I'm not too worried about some ambulance-chaser.
Posted by: MetResident at August 28, 2006 9:09 AM
Well, the property that Catalano sued in San Diego was a conversion developed by Crescent Heights -- the same company that developed The Metropolitan. How convenient!
Posted by: Damion at August 28, 2006 9:36 AM
If there's a legit problem, then I understand the lawsuit as a means for fixing the construction defects that the developer has refused to fix. More often than not these attorney's are snake oil salesman that promise a big settlement without fully explaining the process and downside to current owners - there's no reason for them to not sue, there's no harm to them if they fail, but the upside is huge. These buildings are not built in a lab, they are not perfect, and as a developer I resent prospecting attorney's who see a developer's insurance policy as a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Ultimately it's these lawyers who drive up the cost of insurance which in turn drives up the cost of housing unnecessarily. Be smart and use caution when getting involved in these suits.
Posted by: Anonymous at August 28, 2006 11:50 AM
The case number is cgc-06-455064 and can be viewed by visiting the San Francisco Superior Court's online file archives.
It does seem like an ambulance chaser attorney and frankly I'd like to see some investigation on his practice and previous dealings. What a horrible situation for homeowners at both buildings. I feel sorry for them and whomever is responsible for introducing this attorney to both projects should be ashamed.
Posted by: Anonymous at August 28, 2006 11:59 AM
Wow! Two buildings in the same week? This is truly a mess. I live at a condo building here in the city that fortunately to date hasn't had any such lawsuit, but this type of ambulance chaser attorney and those who practice law in this manner make me nervous that my buidling will be next. Is any condo building safe from this type of baseless litigation? Personally I would be very worried about resale value and the overall reputation of my home if faced with this type of lawsuit. Does anyone know this Patrick Catalano or his past dealings with developers? How does one stop someone like this from bringing these types of lawsuits?
Posted by: Anonymous at August 28, 2006 12:08 PM
How does one stop these lawsuits?
You could start by building your developments properly and not misleading anyone as to square footage. And if the owners bring you their concerns, deal with them fairly and don't stonewall them.
Any other questions?
Posted by: Tipster at August 28, 2006 12:33 PM
As a Beacon homeowner, I can confirm the specifics of the fee agreement in this post. No way Catalano will get half of the homeowners to sign up however. In fact, several of his Beacon homeowner clients have already fired him.
Posted by: War at August 28, 2006 12:36 PM
I can't find this lawsuit in the San Francisco Superior Court's online file archives. Does anyone have the link? And what are they suing for??
Also, I always thought a HOA has a board of directors that needs to approve any litigation. That's the way in works in las vegas...
[Editor's Note: A pdf of the filing is now available online - see update above for the link]
Posted by: RinconFan at August 28, 2006 12:40 PM
I'm sorry, but this "not misleading anyone about your square footage" stuff is amusing. When buyers purchase a unit, they should be reviewing disclosures, this should include the recorded (or draft) CC&R's and condo plan, the document that legally subdivides your unit. The condo plan is performed by a licensed CA surveyor and specifically calls out the unit size. Did these buyers ignore the disclosure package? Was this document not included? Sounds like developers should be giving out free tape measures just in case...
Posted by: Anonymous at August 28, 2006 1:37 PM
But in the case of The Beacon (I haven't seen the Met filing yet), they're suing the HOA -- so you wouldn't get HOA approval for that. The HOA isn't suing the developer, the homeowners are.
Posted by: Damion at August 28, 2006 1:38 PM
At the Met it looks like there's only one homeonwer who is suing.
Posted by: Damion at August 28, 2006 1:53 PM
I'm a homeowner at The Met and I think I should point out that we had to have security remove Mr. Catalano on the night he came to our building. He tried to come into our main HOA meeting and give his doom and gloom presentation and was forbidden. He was actually cursing out loud!! Now tell me, is that the kind of attorney who you would want to represent you in a lawsuit? I hope that everyone can see through this one attorney's motives and think for themselves, do a little research, you'll be surprised at what you find out about him.
Posted by: Concerned Met Homeowner at August 28, 2006 2:11 PM
Unlike the Beacon lawsuit where there are 22 plaintiffs, the Met has only ONE - Ben Bedi. I wonder if other Met owners can persuade Ben to give up this suit or at least fire this Catalano character and negotiate with the developer...
Posted by: RinconFan at August 28, 2006 2:45 PM
The same Bedi family that's prominently on the list of Beacon plaintiffs, presumably?
Posted by: Amen Corner at August 28, 2006 2:54 PM
Interesting!! Is this family in the business of lawsuits?
Posted by: Anonymous at August 28, 2006 3:08 PM
Wow, that's crazy! If I were a Met owner I would definitely approach Bedi and find out what his true intentions are. The fact that his one lawsuit could affect the resale value of so many homeowners is outrageous and unconscionable.
Come to think of it, I hope the Bedi family doesn't buy at One Rincon or Infinity!!
Posted by: RinconFan at August 28, 2006 3:22 PM
Think this is him?
Posted by: Anonymous at August 28, 2006 3:40 PM
KEEP HIM AWAY FROM YOUR PROPERTY!!!
Posted by: Anonymous at August 28, 2006 4:17 PM
Metropolitan has many more plaintiffs. He just didn't name them all on the lawsuit. [Removed by Editor]
Posted by: Anonymous at August 28, 2006 4:19 PM
Why does Socketsite delete ertain commentaries?
Can't face the truth that buying in SOMA sucks and District 7 prime continues to go up?
[Editor’s Note: Sorry socketsux (a.k.a. prime, tang, duhh, larryflint, wowii, Tier1Prop, lindros, wowza, socketsucks, etc.), but you (and you alone) are consistently off topic. Stick to the topic (and add some value) and we’ll stop deleting your rants.]
Posted by: socketsux at August 28, 2006 7:56 PM
Get over your love affair with the Marina. If you love it so much, I'm sure everyone here is more than happy for you to stay there. You don't have to drag it into every single thread on this site. And, if you think Socket sucks, please don't come back.
Posted by: Sexy & Sassy in SF at August 28, 2006 8:05 PM
Some people buy in South Beach/Rincon because they work along the Peninsula or East Bay, want to be close to the bridge and freeway, but also want to be in the City. Others work in the financial district or SoMa and want to be close to work. Others cannot afford District 7 (if they can get a junior one-bedroom at a new development with gym and pool for under $500k, they may not see anything comparable in older sections of the city. Pricewise they could get a TIC but a lot of people don't like TICs.) There's just different reasons for different people.
Posted by: Damion at August 28, 2006 9:00 PM
I am amazed that this Catalano guy was (1) able to get into a Board meeting in the first place without Board approval the month before, given WHY he wants to address the Board/HOA (would love to see the minutes of the Board meeting allowing him to attend -- and if they don't exist, he was not there legally), and 2) convincing any one of the owners to name their own HOA as a defendant in a lawsuit. Do these alleged plaintiffs have any idea how stupid this is? They are basically suing themselves and any unlikely settlemet will go 33-50% to this Catalano character.
Advice to homeowners at the Metropolitan -- this lawsuit will cost you much more in lost equity and legal fees than you will gain in some kind of settlement. If you want to sue the builder, wait a few years and see what kind of defects will come up later -- whether or not there is anything there now, I am sure that something will probably pop up in the next few years and then hire a shark to address these to go after the builder or developer to fix as the Board sees fit.
I can't address your square footage argument as I don't know the details, but I would make sure you hire your OWN engineer to determine whether this is a case (it MAY be, I have no idea)before you hire an attorney to file a public complaint which will publicly tell the world that the square footages of every unit in your building is bullshit. This can only hurt you (but it can also hurt the developer, if that is what you are attempting to do). If that's the case, go for it.
Good Luck, I really like that project (I don't care for the Beacon) but I wouldn't touch it with a 10-foot pole now.
Posted by: CondoMediator at August 28, 2006 9:19 PM
Some people may not care for that strange mold / plaster / horsehair smell that is prevalent even in even upscale buildings in the Marina and Pacific Heights.
Others may not want to spend $1.3 million for flats that were constructed 60 years ago, of a quality barely appropriate for San Francisco's working classes at the time…
What you get, for what you spend, is mind-boggling in San Francisco. In most cities in America, the typical Marina two-flat is something that would be torn down.
Posted by: Anonymous at August 28, 2006 9:23 PM
The 'typical' Marina 2 level flat built in the 1920's is like ART. It gets finer, more rare, and uch more expensive with age. The architecture is fantastic. I'm not just talkin The Marina, but the mansions in Presidio and Pac Heights.
Anonyous said people can't afford DISTRICT 7 (94123) and yet can afford to pay 500K for a 550-600sqft 1 bedroom with 400-500 HOA fees? That is just called unwise purchasing.
Isn't it ironic that SOMA is having all these problems and none of the more exclusive districts? Hmm.
Posted by: wowii at August 28, 2006 9:39 PM
what are "all the problems' that SOMA is having?
Posted by: Anonymous at August 28, 2006 9:54 PM
[Removed by Editor] Interesting how these sorts of things pop up when the market is bad and when the market is good, nobody complains. Anyways....this is all very interesting reading!
Posted by: Anonymous at August 28, 2006 10:29 PM
all those, meaning 2, filed by the same ambulance chaser attorney, doesn't really equate to a district wide problem :)
Posted by: Anonymous at August 28, 2006 10:38 PM
Well, two lawsuits doesn't mean the whole district is having a problem.
Now, if the water damage at 88 King becomes a problem...
Posted by: Anonymous at August 28, 2006 10:38 PM
Sorry for the interruption, but “socketsux” asks above: “Why does Socketsite delete ertain [sic] commentaries?”
Our response: "Sorry socketsux (a.k.a. prime, tang, duhh, larryflint, wowii, Tier1Prop, lindros, wowza, socketsucks, etc.), but you (and you alone) are consistently off topic. Stick to the topic (and add some value) and we’ll stop deleting your rants."
Our sincere thanks to today's other commenters who have added a tremendous amount of value.
Posted by: SocketSite at August 28, 2006 10:52 PM
Unit owners can "sue" the HOA if they think it (HOA) did not act appropriately when there was a problem in/with the building, that negatively affected the unit owner/unit owner's property. HOA officers always have indemnity clauses, so the suit goes directly towards any insurance policy the HOA has, which is typically several million dollars at a minimum.
This is why the HOA is named in these lawsuits, for those who are asking.
Posted by: Jason at August 29, 2006 8:08 AM
I've met Mr. Bedi at one of the Beacon meetings regarding the lawsuit. He struck me as not being particularly litigious, and, quite frankly, as someone who was bamboozled into signing on by Catalano.
Posted by: War at August 29, 2006 10:03 AM
I'm a Met resident and have seen Mr. Bedi's efforts over the past 1.5 years to get a resolution from the developer. As for being bamboozled, I'm not too sure about that as I do believe that Mr. Bedi is a lawyer himself (just googled it, he is an IP lawyer).
Posted by: Another Ben at August 29, 2006 11:47 AM
Has anyone try to contact Catalano, Bedi, or Chi to get them to drop the suits at either the Beacon or Met?
Maybe someone can talk some sense into them and stop this circus...
Posted by: RinconFan at August 29, 2006 12:20 PM
I should clarify -- I met Mohinder Bedi (Beacon plaintiff), not Ben Bedi (Met plaintiff). I don't know if they are one and the same.
Catalano has made it pretty clear that he has no plans for dropping the lawsuit as long as he has plaintiffs.
Posted by: War at August 29, 2006 12:54 PM
Are these suits affecting other developments in the area? Are prospective buyers being scared away from signing their OneRincon or Infinity contracts?
Posted by: Anonymous at August 29, 2006 7:06 PM
As an active buyer in the area, the lawsuits are not adversely affecting my decisions, but it is food for thought as I comb through what is available. One way to look at this is that there is always opportunity in chaos...
Posted by: Anonymous at August 29, 2006 9:35 PM
Apparently that's how some investors are looking at it. It looks like they just sold 5 units at 260 King in the past few days. No wonder the rich get richer. They understand short term risks versus long term payoff.
Posted by: Anonymous at August 30, 2006 12:29 PM
Not so fast, only one unit pending at 260 King (#455), and none Contingent. Most likely 5 have been withdrawn.
Posted by: SFSal at August 30, 2006 2:32 PM
Ben Bedi has been trying to bring a suit for almost 2 years. Two other firms even came and had question and answer sessions with homeowners (all of about 15 who were curious enough to attend) in early 2005. I think there weren't enough interested homeowners to retain those attorneys. After almost two years, there are still only a handful of homeowners feeling litiginous, whereas the majority of homeowners feel the suit is unfounded and bypasses proper procedure. No mention of any of the complaints cited in the suit were ever brought to the HOA meetings in recent months, and suddenly the HOA is being sued...the supposed reason being that the HOA is being negligent in its duty to homeowners because it isn't joining in the lawsuit. Come on, 10 days notice is not a reasonable amount of time to investigate all the various complaints and decide whether or not to join such a lawsuit. Plus, some of the issues have already been settled through negotiations, but apparently the litiginous ones didn't bother to find that out.
Posted by: Anonymous at August 30, 2006 7:01 PM
My reading of the lawsuit is that the HOA is being sued for being negligent in not pursuing the alleged defects with the builder/developer. So isn't the question whether complaints about the ventilation etc have ever been brought before the HOA, and if so what action, if any, did the HOA take?
Posted by: Amen Corner at August 30, 2006 10:24 PM
oh that previous comment was about the suit at the metropolitan. and the HOA there has been working and negotiating with the developer and making progress in getting things fixed while following the procedures outlined by state law for dealing with construction defects. seems the lawsuit wants to bypass state law.
Posted by: Anonymous at August 31, 2006 12:11 AM
So I have a question then...What do you do? The developer tells you the square footage of your unit at The Met is 865 sq ft. You find out it's not "approximatley" less, it's 100 square feet less: close to 15% less. California case law says it's your reponsibility to disclose the correct square footage so you have to disclose the corrected number. At $1000 a square foot, what do you do with the 100,000.00 that just went up in smoke because the unit no longer comps out? What should the homeowners there do? So Catalano is an ambulance chaser and Bedi is litigious, fine. But what's the solution then?
Posted by: anonymous at October 10, 2006 9:35 PM
Any updates on Ben Bedi's lawsuit?
Posted by: anonymous at September 5, 2007 9:37 AM
Does anyone know which entitlement company the Met hired to have the city of San Francisco approved its building permit?
Posted by: charada at January 23, 2008 3:40 PM