Pittsburg Steelers’ star defensive back Troy Polamalu and his wife Theodora have filed a lawsuit seeking $7.5 million in damages after the backyard of their La Jolla home collapsed into a canyon.
The lawsuit accuses Harry Rady and HRMR Holdings, Inc., a company in which Rady was an investor, of fraud in the sale of the home at 1761 Colgate Circle. Rady is the son of La Jolla billionaire Ernest Rady.
The Polamalus’ suit states they purchased the home near La Jolla Scenic Drive in 2009 for $2.3 million and subsequently put $2.45 million in improvements into it, only to have the property’s 2,000-square-foot backyard collapse.
“The property was built in the ‘70s and had a pool and almost no backyard with a steep canyon behind it,” said Stuart M. Eppsteine, the Polamalus’ attorney. “What Rady did was import about 4,000 cubic yards of dirt to build a football field-sized yard back there without obtaining permits and approvals from the city and without having done a code inspection by engineers.”
Arthur S. Moreau, Rady’s attorney, issued a statement saying, “HRMR Holdings Inc. and Mr. Rady strongly contest the allegations as set forth in the complaint as well as the representations in the press … The parties have differing views of the events that transpired as part of the real estate purchase and the resulting obligations. This dispute is being resolved through the legal process.”
The statement also noted “the property was owned by HRMR Holdings, Inc, where Mr. Rady has an ownership interest. HRMR Holdings, Inc. hired construction professionals to complete the remodel and re-landscaping at the property. HRMR Holdings Inc relied on the expertise of those construction professionals regarding project completion.”
Eppsteiner said the Polamalus’ suit also contends that the property was sold to the couple without required disclosure forms.
“The question on their disclosure form — ‘Has there been any fill or grading on the property?’ — was answered by ‘two small spots in the past,’ ” said Eppsteiner. “The bottom line is the Polamalus’ seek recision, undoing the contract giving the property back to Harry Rady and giving the Polamalus back the money they invested.”
La Jolla-based land use consultant Mike Pallamary said maps and other information indicate Colgate Circle could be in an active landslide area, but added, even if it isn't, "you really need to make sure you have a good soils engineer to assure adhesion."
“A lot of those canyons are unstable and have habitat,” he said. “With grading, you have an absence of adhesion of soil to the slope, which then just slides off. If you don’t properly adhere the soil by cutting it and integrating it into the slope, you can have failure with a hillside slipping.”