Millennium Tower

Lead Design Engineer For Troubled Millennium Summoned To Testify About Project As Homeowners Suffer Legal Setback

The lead design engineer of the now sinking and tilting Millennium Tower will face a subpoena to testify about the building’s troubles next month before the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

The board voted Tuesday to summon Derrick Roorda to answer questions as part of a series of hearings about what led the 58-story building to sink some 17 inches. Roorda wrote a letter back in 2009 that vouched for the building after city building inspectors expressed concerns about the sinking issue.

“The engineer of record on the project has a lot of questions to answer,” said Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who has led the series of hearings on the project. “Hopefully, he has answers that heretofore no one has been able to answer.”

Roorda, reached by NBC Bay Area on Tuesday, declined to comment.

While homeowners at the building welcomed Roorda’s testimony, they got some bad news in their legal battle with the developer. Superior Court Judge Curtis Karnow ruled earlier this month that nearly all of the homeowners’ allegations were simply too vague. But Karnow gave homeowners “leave to amend” their claims to be more specific.

Homeowners lawyer Daniel Petrocelli, in a statement, downplayed the negative impact of Karnow’s ruling.

“The HOA intends to hold all responsible parties accountable for the serious damage they caused to the Millennium Tower,” he said. “The court has asked for clarification on certain claims, and the HOA will provide the requested clarifications promptly.”

But Jerry Dodson, a lawyer who lives in the building and is monitoring the case, is concerned that the judge’s dismissal of many fraud, breach of contract and negligence claims could pose a significant legal hurdle.

“Given what’s in the order, I have my doubts, but other attorneys may have a different take of it,” Dodson said. “I wouldn’t want to be conclusive one way or another at this point -- I do know the order threw out the bulk of the complaint.”

As for Roorda’s testimony – slated for as early as next month – Dodson said he looks forward to getting answers from the engineer whose assurances led the city to start issuing certificates of occupancy back in 2009.

“He was certifying it," Dodson said, “so he is a person who should be called in and held accountable.”

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