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Tenants of Fenton Business Center File Suit For Contaminated Water

San Diego, CA – The owners of Candy Bouquet, tenants of Fenton Business Center, and their family members are formally filing suit against Otay Water District; the City of Chula Vista; William Cooper, a former inspector for Otay Water; Civil Constructors, contractor of the Fenton Business Center; and Seymour Lewis Development, the owner, landlord and developer of the Fenton Business Center, after Otay Water and the City of Chula Vista denied the government claims that were filed on October 17, 2007. The plaintiffs had filed their claims after discovering that the defendants had caused recycled sewage water to flow through the pipes of the business center for almost two years.

The complaint cites negligence, product liability, negligent infliction of emotional distress and negligent interference with prospective business advantage against all defendants. The complaint also cites Fenton Business Center owner, Seymour Lewis, for breaching its lease agreement with Candy Bouquet by not complying with applicable building codes, regulations, and ordinances, and by refusing to honor the lease’s rent abatement while work was still taking place to fix the misrouted sewage water. Though it was, in large part, responsible for the misrouted sewage water, Seymour Lewis threatened to evict Candy Bouquet if it did not receive their rent, in full, by the end of October. As a result, Candy Bouquet was forced to permanently close its doors and vacate the premises because it could no longer afford to pay rent due to a tremendous loss of business in connection with the contaminated water.

"Seymour Lewis has shown itself to be a cruel and heartless landlord,” said attorney Anthony Dain of Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch LLP, who is representing Candy Bouquet. “After causing the families to suffer serious illnesses and disease, and after destroying their Candy Bouquet business, Seymour Lewis offered absolutely no help or assistance, but instead threatened to throw Candy Bouquet out on the street. Seymour Lewis' holiday present to the Candy Bouquet families was a December 31 letter demanding immediate payment of all rent. Hopefully, this lawsuit will bring this corporation to its senses.”

While Seymour Lewis handled the design and construction for the new business park, the City of Chula Vista’s responsibilities included the task of reviewing Seymour Lewis’ terrain grading plans, which identified the location and configuration of the recycled sewage and potable water lines. After submitting their initial set of plans to the City of Chula Vista for review and approval, Seymour Lewis altered the Fenton Business Center’s design, providing the City of Chula Vista with confusing and unclear change-of-construction plans. The City of Chula Vista failed to question the plans or even notice that the business center’s grading plans actually showed that the sewage and potable water lines were incorrectly connected. The City of Chula Vista and its inspectors improperly approved the flawed plans anyway.

Otay Water was directly responsible for assuring that the sewage and potable water lines were correctly connected. It negligently failed to follow inspection regulations and its own internal policies and procedures, resulting in its failure to catch and prevent the misconnection. Moreover, Cooper, the Otay Water inspector on the Fenton project who overlooked the misconnection of the sewage pipe to the potable water pipe, was ultimately convicted of soliciting bribes from Seymour Lewis’ subcontractor on the project. Despite timely learning that Cooper had solicited bribes from the very subcontractor who misconnected the pipes, Otay failed to properly reinspect and catch the misconnection for almost two years, ignoring for months the complaints by the persistent tenants.

Anthony Dain and Eunice Lau with the San Diego law firm of Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch LLP are representing the owners and family members of Candy Bouquet. Attorneys from multiple law firms are representing various tenants of the business center. All attorneys have made a commitment to coordinate efforts during the ongoing investigation. Attorney Doug Gilliland is representing Unique Wood Designs, PC Joes, Party World, Eastlake Party Rentals and Eastlake Insurance. Jim Meier with the Glendale, California law firm of Calendo, Puckett, Sheedy & DiCorrado is representing the employees of Eastlake Dream Dinners. Dick A. Semerdjian with the San Diego law firm of Schwartz, Semerdjian, Haile Ballard, & Cauley is representing the employees of San Diego Electric Sign, who will be filing their claims early next week. Attorney Eric Johnson is representing the employees of Jumpin' Jumps Inflatables.

About Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch LLP

Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch LLP was established in 1946 and is now one of the largest business law firms in the San Diego region. With offices in San Diego and Carlsbad, Procopio’s more than 110 experienced attorneys provide comprehensive legal services in the areas of construction; corporate and securities; emerging growth and technology; employment, labor and benefits; environmental, land use and governmental affairs; finance, restructuring and bankruptcy; health care; intellectual property; international law; litigation; Native American law; patent prosecution and counseling; real estate; tax; trademarks and copyrights; and trusts, estates and probate. Through its membership in Law Exchange International and Legal NetLink Alliance, Procopio's ability to assist clients reaches around the world.