Jack Hain, a shipyard artist in San Francisco, has sued Lennar Communities for moving three large boulders on his property. Hain created a 2,000 square foot work of art in the parking lot outside of his studio in the shipyard. To create the finishing touch to the piece, he was authorized by a Lennar foreman to take three large pieces of serpentinite from a nearby quarry. A few months later the environmental manager for Lennar, Jeff Austin, called Hain and told him that the rocks had to be removed since they violated Hain’s lease with the Navy. Hain threatened with a lawsuit if his serpentinite rocks were moved, and complaints to Austin’s superior resulted in verbal assurances that the boulders would remain. One month later, the rocks were gone from Hain’s parking lot sculpture, and a lawsuit was subsequently filed against Lennar who Hain believes is responsible for the rocks’ removal. Litigation is currently pending in court. The boulders in question are composed of serpentinite which contains naturally occurring asbestos.
Asbestos dust and fibers have been shown to cause lung cancers in humans, most notably the deadly mesothelioma . The artist himself has stated that he is unconcerned about asbestos exposure from working with the serpentinite, but he has not commented on potential dangers posed to those near his shipyard studio from possible asbestos exposure. Air quality testing on the site was not conducted, and cannot be now that the rocks have been removed. This is not the first asbestos-related lawsuit faced by Lennar. It has also been sued by residents, and it was the plaintiff in a suit against one of its subcontractors. Both cases centered around the defendant failing to properly monitor air quality levels and control asbestos dust. Lennar has yet to comment on the moving of the serpentinite boulders to prevent airborne asbestos dust.