Later today, the residents of Washington, D.C.'s Spring Valley neighborhood are scheduled to meet with D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton for a town hall meeting about the chemical weapons buried in and around their community. As reported in today's Washington Post, the Army Corps of Engineers has been working for 16 years to pluck munitions from the area, which was a weapons testing site during World War I.
But as it turns out, the ongoing cleanup is the subject of more than just talk — it has also generated some litigation. Last week, a suit filed by husband and wife Matthew and Tarnisha Previn against the former owners of their Spring Valley home was transferred into federal court. The suit accuses the former owners of failing to share critical information regarding their property and the munitions problem.
Both of the Previns are lawyers. Matthew Previn is a partner at Washington’s BuckleySandler (he also happens to be the son of actress Mia Farrow and composer Andrew Previn). While he declined to comment otherwise, Matthew Previn confirmed that his wife currently isn’t practicing. According to a New York Times piece on their wedding, the couple met while working at the Washington office of what was then Wilmer Cutler & Pickering. The pair filed their complaint pro se in August.
According to the their complaint, the couple purchased their Fordham Road home from James and Betsy Kleeblatt in 2007. At the time, the Kleeblatts provided a letter issued by the Army Corps of Engineers in 2001 stating that soil on the property showed no signs of contamination from the munitions testing.
After the deal, the Previns discovered there had been a second letter, written in 2005, which the Kleeblats allegedly never shared. It stated that their property was within the “range fan area” where munitions had possibly been fired during the war. According to the complaint, now before Judge Emmet Sullivan of the U.S. District. Court for the District of Columbia, the Army Corps of Engineers conducted a geophysical survey of the property in May, which found “dozens of anomalies in the soil that…require excavation.”
“Plaintiffs would not have purchased the Property had they been aware of the [Army Corps of Engineers] 2005 Letter, or they would have purchased it at a discounted price,” the complaint states.
The suit accuses the Kleeblatts of fraud and negligent misrepresentation, among other counts. The Previns do not specify how much they are seeking in damages.