A case now pending in federal court in New Orleans may have an important impact on potential claims against the federal government for coastal land loss in Louisiana.
Judge Duval has set the claims of numerous plaintiffs against the Army Corps of Engineers for trial beginning September 8, 2008. Plaintiffs contend the Corps contributed to flooding of their property in St. Bernard Parish and New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina.
The plaintiffs contend that the existence of the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet (also called MRGO) increased their damages from Hurricane Katrina. MRGO is a 76 mile ship channel from the Gulf of Mexico to New Orleans that the Corps built 40 years ago. The Corps admits MRGO contributed to the plaintiffs damages but claims statutory immune from liability. The Corps claims that the immunity provision in the Flood Control Act of 1928 among other federal statutes grants them immunity from liability for damages to the plaintiffs’ property. The judge has set January 16, 2008 as the date for considering motions related to this claim of immunity.
Many issues presented in this case would have a bearing on potential claims against the federal government for coastal land loss in Louisiana. If the plaintiffs prevail, the case law will be a step closer to supporting claims against the Corps for loss of coastal land in Louisiana.
Here is a link to a Baton Rouge Advocate news article on the subject.