Reproduced with permission from Class Action Action Litigation Report, Vol. 6, No. 21, pp. 793-795 (Nov 11, 2005). Copyright 2005 by The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. (800-372-1033). Katrina has already spawned a hurricane of lawsuits. These suits include: suits by individuals who claim they were injured by hazardous substances that leaked from storage facilities, refineries, or pipeline facilities; suits by individuals who claim that oilfield production and pipeline activities caused wetland damage that exacerbated the effects of hurricane Katrina; and suits by individuals who claim faulty levees caused the widespread flooding that followed in the days after Katrina made landfall. All of these suits have a common thread: each will require the courts to determine whether the damages sued upon resulted from nature’s fury or human blunder. Louisiana, like many other states, recognizes the general principle that an “act of God” can be a complete defense to liability for negligence and strict liability claims. Louisiana courts have generally used a consistent definition of the term “act of God,” but the application of that definition in the context of a specific event has not always been consistent or clear, particularly when the issue of contributing human fault is at play. The two landmark cases in Louisiana most frequently cited in “act of God” cases are Southern Air Transport v. Gulf Air Ways, 40 So.2d 787, 791 (La. 1949) and Rector v. Hartford Acc. & Indem. Co. of Hartford, 120 So.2d 511 (La.App. 1st 1960). In Southern Air Transport v. Gulf Air Ways, 40 So.2d 787, 791 (La. 1949), defendant’s airplane was parked approximately 200 feet from the plaintiff’s plane. The defendant failed to secure his plane by tying it down or setting the brakes. A windstorm with gusts up to 70 miles per hour caused defendant’s plane to roll into the plaintiff’s plane. The district court ruled in favor of the plaintiff, and the defendant appealed. Read the entire article here: Download file