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Katrina lawsuit against Army Corps will proceed to trial

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Some three and a half years after Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans residents will finally get a chance to put the Army Corps of Engineers on trial.

New-Orleans-Katrina.jpgA federal judge in New Orleans ruled Friday that a lawsuit holding the Army Corps responsible for flooding during Hurricane Katrina can proceed to trial next month.

The lawsuit, which was filed by plaintiffs whose homes in eastern New Orleans, the Lower 9th Ward and St. Bernard Parish were flooded during the 2005 hurricane, argues that the Army Corps failed to properly maintain a navigation channel called the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet (MR-GO).

The shipping canal is now known to be responsible for destroying large parts of Louisiana's coastline and protective wetlands and contributing to the devastating damage New Orleans suffered during Hurricane Katrina. MR-GO intensified the hurricane's storm surge and flooded eastern New Orleans and St. Bernard Parish.

In his Friday decision, Judge Stanwood Duval said the decision for a trial is required in order to determine whether the corps failed to take the risk of flooding from the outlet seriously after it dug the channel.

As the Times Picayune reports:

Duval said a trial is necessary to hash out several "material questions of fact," including whether the National Environmental Protection Act was violated by what the Corps claims were the legally-permissible, discretionary decisions it made in designing, building and maintaining the 76-mile channel, and whether, as the plaintiffs maintain, the Corps violated that law's requirement to warn Congress of the dangers presented by the MRGO.

This is the first case against the Army Corps by Katrina flood victims to go to trail. The outcome of this case could set the stage for thousands of other people whose homes and businesses were flooded in the same area to seek compensation from the federal government for the Army Corp's negligence. Another group of New Orleans residents has a separate lawsuit pending that asks the court to allow the case against the Army Corps to proceed as a class action, representing everyone in those areas who sustained flooding in the 2005 storm.
 
Prior attempts to sue the corps have failed. In January 2008, Duval dismissed a class-action lawsuit against the Army Corps over the breaching of New Orleans' 17th Street Canal during Katrina. The judge ruled that the corps was immune in that case under the Flood Control Act of 1928, which grants immunity to the federal government when flood control projects -- including floodwalls -- break. Class action lawsuits filed against insurance companies for flood damage were also dismissed in 2007 by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The End of Mister Go

The federally-funded MR-GO was dug into the swamps southeast of New Orleans in the 1960s as a shortcut between New Orleans and the Gulf of Mexico. But the catastrophic impact of the project is no longer up for debate. Yet, for years the Environmental Protection Agency and other federal agencies allowed energy companies to decimate Louisiana's coastal wetlands, the best buffers against hurricanes, with projects like MR-GO. For just as many years, residents, coastal advocates, environmentalists, civil rights groups, and policy makers argued for MR-GO's closure, as the 76-mile shipping channel continued to grow in size due to erosion, bringing with it daily tidal flows of salt water that killed wetlands, marsh and swamp forests.

It wasn't until after the devastation of Katrina that that the outcry against the channel gained momentum, prompting Congress to allow the Corps to close the shipping route. And now, some fifty years after digging MR-GO and destroying vast wetland areas, the Corps has finally begun to look at restoring the damage the channel caused.

But the restoration is too little too late for families who lost everything to the flooding. Jonathan Andry, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, told the Associated Press that the corps never apologized after homes, businesses and whole neighborhoods of eastern New Orleans and nearby St. Bernard parish were swamped by floodwaters surging up the channel. "When the Mister Go caused the flooding, the corps didn't even come out and say to the people ... 'we're sorry,'" Andry said. "Not only that, they came into court and they say, 'it's just a terrible thing that happened to you, but we're immune. And oh, by the way, go enjoy your destroyed life.'"

The plaintiffs' lead trial lawyer, Pierce O'Donnell, told the Times-Picayune that his clients will be looking toward Washington, D.C. for support. "Before and after his election, President Obama promised that he would make rebuilding New Orleans a top priority," O'Donnell said. "We are looking to the White House for leadership in expeditiously resolving the claims of Katrina victims in a fair and equitable manner. The continued stonewalling of Katrina victims is a national disgrace."

The trial is scheduled to start on April 20. 

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re: Katrina lawsuit against Army Corps will proceed to trial

I was a native of New Orleans, La. at the time of Hurricane Katrina. My family is still suffering from the turmoil of Hurricane Katrina. There are still family members that I haven't seen since the storm. Some members were displaced so far away, and have not been able to get back home, due to their financial situations. Some of my family members have passed away since the storm due to heart attacks and other ailments. I'm sure stress has played as a factor in some of their ailments. I hope that this law suit opens the door for others and give the people of New Orleans what they deserve- money could never wash away our memory or replace sentimental values that were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina; However, it would help if you didn't have to worry about where your next meal is coming from, or how the next bill is going to get paid, or if a family member gets sick or pass away, if you are financially able to be there for your family. My family has suffered long enough and it's time for justice to be served for all in New Orleans!

re: Katrina lawsuit against Army Corps will proceed to trial

I still have a financial situation iam struggling to make ends meet. Everything in my house was paid for in full and now i still need furniture.I have to get a second drop so i want get put out on the street.If it wasn't for the levee breaching we all still would be in our homes.It wasn't because of the hurricane damaging anything it was because of the levee. And not only did water go into the 9th ward one time water from the levee flooded the 9th ward 3 times but they think we don't know about that.If this was a all white subdivision thay wouldn't even have to have a trail! i don't need to say anymore.

re: Katrina lawsuit against Army Corps will proceed to trial

You Sharonda, are nothing but a racist. "If it was a all white subdivision. . ." GIVE ME A FREEKIN BREAK.

re: Katrina lawsuit against Army Corps will proceed to trial

I HAVE TO AGREE WITH GEORGE....I AM AFRICAN AMERICAN AND KATRINA WAS A HURRICANE OF NO COLOR...TRUE AS IT MAY BE THAT THE LEVEES WERE NOT BUILT TO THE STRENGTH AND CAPACITY OF WHAT WE WERE TO ONE DAY ENCOUNTER..EVERYONE IS AFFECTED THE SAME..SO IF RACE WAS IN YOUR MIND A FACTOR BEFORE GET OVER IT...KATRINA SHOULD HAVE GIVEN A LOT OF PEOPLE WISDOM BETTER YET A REALITY CHECK...THERE IS A BLACK PRESIDENT NOW AND WE AS PEOPLE OF ALL COLOR ARE STILL IGNORANT THAT DISASTERS DO NOT AFFECT US BY RACE, LET'S GET OVER IT AND GET OUR CITY, NOT BACK TO WHERE IT WAS, BUT UP AND RUNNING AND A HELL OF A LOT BETTER THAN WHERE WE WERE....THE WORLD US IS MOVING ON AND THE MAJORITY OF OUR LOUISIANIANS ARE STILL BLAMING EVERYTHING ON COLOR...COME ON GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE....

re: Katrina lawsuit against Army Corps will proceed to trial

No one is blaming it on color we are just saying if it was a all white neighborhood it wouldn't even take this long for justice.A hurricane don't know wether you are white are black.And yes we do have a black president now.If he was in office for hurricane Katrina it wouldn't have took him a week to get to New Orleans!

re: Katrina lawsuit against Army Corps will proceed to trial

And I am not a racist at ALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

re: Katrina lawsuit against Army Corps will proceed to trial

how ignorant!! If it was a white neighborhood this wouldnt have happened!!! You have to be kidding. This just didnt happen to new orleans. It happened in St Bernard Parish, also. The difference? St Bernard was totally wiped out by hurricane katrina. I had was up to the gutters, I also lost EVERYTHING. And I am white. We have all been through something dramatic and unfair. We all lost everything, we all were displaced, and we all are doing our best to get back to a life worth living. But I am FED UP ABOUT IF THIS WAS A WHITE ISSUE THIS WOULDNT HAVE HAPPENED. The issue is that the federal government dug this channel and then destroyed out life. So lets keep the anger towards them where it belongs.

re: Katrina lawsuit against Army Corps will proceed to trial

Let's Just hope the trail go very will for EVERYONE!!!!!!!!
THAT HAD TO GO THROUGH THIS!

re: Katrina lawsuit against Army Corps will proceed to trial

THIS WOULD HAVE NEVER HAPPENED IF THE LEVEE WOULD HAVE BEEN FIXED WHEN BETSY HIT OVER 40 YEARS AGO. I LIVED IN NEW ORLEANS AND NEVER THOUGHT I WOULD BE LIVING SOMEHWERE I WASN'T COMFORTABLE. I STILL HAVE NIGHTMARES FROM KATRINA. NO ONE REALLY KNOWS HOW WE FEEL IF THEY DIDN'T GO THROUGH IT. I LIVED IN A TOWNHOUSE THAT THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER RAN RIGHT IN FRONT. THERE IS NO WAY THAT WATER COULD HAVE CAME LIKE THAT IF THERE WAS SOME MISCHIEF. THEY KNOW WHO IS THE BLAME. THEY NEED TO OWN UP TO IT AND TAKE CARE OF IT, MEANING GIVE US BACK WHAT WAS TAKEN FROM US, OUR LIVES, (FAMILY) THAT CAN NOT BE REPLACED.

re: Katrina lawsuit against Army Corps will proceed to trial

I like everyone else in the 9th ward lost everything too,but I thank GOD that my life was spared and my family made it out alive. Material things can be replaced but a lost life is a void that will never be filled. I am also struggling to get back home. With the help of GOD we will all make it back. "the time you waste worring you should be praying, put it in the hands of GOD and leave it there"

re: Katrina lawsuit against Army Corps will proceed to trial

I am from new orleans and i also feel that we were miss treated. I feel that Katrina did not take that effect on the city. The levees was breached. Pepoled have died because of it. Families ARE still displaced. Most of us are still stresed. Yeah we pray and yes I am BLESSED. But we all know that the WHOLE CITY was under water. That WAS NOT a Natural Disaster, Corps of Engineers breached the levees and Bush let us for dead before he even ALLOWED not sent but ALLOWED HELP to enter the City. They owe us and they owe us big. So before you make negitive comment about how we feel. Take a walk in my shoes and viwe things from my eyes. Thne and only then you will see the I feel or WE feel.

re: Katrina lawsuit against Army Corps will proceed to trial

I was there that day hurricane Katrina came to new Orleans. stuck at a hotel on the 3rd FLOOR. WHAT ELSE COULD WE DO? No lights N/o water just pitch dark.All my life i never would have believed what i saw. Well who could have imagined being on a desert. because truly it was very scary and painful. But does anyone care about what happened? NO because it didn't happened to anyone but Louisiana people. And i think that's messed up to take away our entire life. We deserved as citizen's and tax payers to be treated fare. So where is fare now?

re: Katrina lawsuit against Army Corps will proceed to trial

I'am from New Orleans most, and many of you are right wheather, you are black, or white, it is time to fix this situation I say, so let us all agree in prayer, in the name of Jesus,cause we mostly first of all need healing.

re: Katrina lawsuit against Army Corps will proceed to trial

Remember God don't love us by color,like I said lets agree in prayer, so this can work for all whom this applies too.God can cause us to get the help we need, better then anyone can.

re: Katrina lawsuit against Army Corps will proceed to trial

I am a New Orleans Resident and all my life I never thought that something like this could happen. I was an employee trying to live right and very well family orinated. Family members are still displaced, so everyone should stop the fingerpointing and pray that the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT give back what belongs to us. No one would like to be displaced the way we all were. But it is all good, "GOD HAS THE LAST ANSWER" and if anyone who has GOD in there life would BELIEVE, as it is said "IT WILL BE WELL DONE". Remember, we with GOD will give what's due to us>

AMEN

re: Katrina lawsuit against Army Corps will proceed to trial

My mother was born and raised in New Orleans, as was my brother. They lost everything that they owned...home,cloths,cars,musical instruments (Baldwin Piano)and many items that can never be replaced. My father is buried there as well as my grandparents. My mother and brother can't seem to get back to how life was before Katrina. I have moved them here to Florida, but every day I watch my mother die a little more. I feel that they should get some form of relief that I cannot give them. I do not know how to include them in the Lawsuit against the Corp but I would gladly appriciate any insight to help us.Thank-you for you time. Humbly, Tea

re: Katrina lawsuit against Army Corps will proceed to trial

i think they should pay for pain and suffering also i myself have not been the same since the hurrican i still dont know what happen to my brother ronnie my family is all over i still cry a many nights.not being able to ever come home again just breaks my heart every day i pray to god that one day before i die i know what happen to my brother.god bless everyone in new orleans still and always will be my home.

re: Katrina lawsuit against Army Corps will proceed to trial

Why did folks not have home owners or flood insurance in a city where most are at sea level? I love the City of New Orleans and appreciate the cukture and history that it represents. At the same time, living in such an area that everyone has known is at risk to flooding, insurance would be a must in my book.

Assuming that I will be flamed, but it kind of is the truth.

re: Katrina lawsuit against Army Corps will proceed to trial

God doesn't have anything to do with what happened when the levees broke. "God doesn't give us more than we can handle." That is such BS, in my opinion.
The disgust and sadness I felt from the other people I came in contact with in this city and the city as a whole was overwhelming for a long time. However, I could not take ONE MORE OUNCE of the stress, the hard work, the extreme misery of cleaning up and salvaging what I could in the heat after my house was flooded. The thought of losing so many valuable and irreplaceable possessions and family heirlooms and the fact that I've spent a huge amount of money out of my own pocket and my savings to replace or to try to repair things makes me sick.
The levee breaking also consumed the next three years of my life and the money coming into New Orleans ain't coming to me. I can't believe how hard I've struggled. I'm still struggling over numerous issues that I won't go into, because of the flood. Is this really “a way of life” in New Orleans?
As far as I can tell, the whole issue of the city's personal losses, including loss of life, has just been swept under the rug. Oh, I lost all of mine, I mean washed down the drain.
I believe God can help one get through a crisis, depending on how strong one's faith is and how big your loss/losses was/were. More power to you and your faith if you can get over this one.
Forgive and forget? I don't think so.

re: Katrina lawsuit against Army Corps will proceed to trial

Lord know ,what went down in NO.The lawsuit went our way .Now where's our reward for being forgotten about bye our Gov.I guess there waiting for all of us that are still here to Die off.
It's real sad how we that are thousands of miles away from home 'and those who chose to return are being slow walk to the graveyard.
Having a black man in the White House isn't worth anything if the rightwing want to see fall on his face.
The wealth of the wick is laid up for the Rightgess.

God don't like ugly.

KEEP LIVING MY BROTHER'S

re: Katrina lawsuit against Army Corps will proceed to trial

MY PEOPLE WAKE UP. HERE IT IS FIVE YEARS SINCE THE GREAT FLOOD. RIDE AROUND THE CITY, THEN YOU CAN TELL IF IT'S A BLACK THING OR WHITE THING......... TOUR NEW ORLEANS EAST. THE NINTH WARD.ONCE YOU DO THAT. THEN GET BACK TO ME........THIS THING IS IN ANOTHER FORM. IF YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN. YOU KNOW SOME FOLKS HAS TO GO DOWN EVEN IF IT IS A FEW WHITE FOLKS........

re: Katrina lawsuit against Army Corps will proceed to trial

My family have lived in New Orleans Louisiana all of our lives and we were forced out by hurricane Katrina in 2005. We have worked so hard for the things that we had owned to have this storm take it all away that fast. Now we are residing in Dallas Texas and we are so unhappy here and want to go back home but can't afford to make the move. We have been STRUGGLING since we have arrived here in Texas. We work, but it is still not enough to keep our heads above water. We need justice for everything that has happened to all of Louisiana people. I am sick and tired of being described as a Refugee when we are not Refugee's. We were forced out of our homes and relocated to states with nothing but the clothes on our backs. Some of the states that we were transferred to do not care for louisiana people which makes it hard for Louisiana people to survive. PLEASE PLEASE rush and get us what we all deserve. We have lost everything and even though it is 5 years later, we are all still living as if the storm just happened. So you see that Louisiana people still can't find a way to get back on our feet to take care of our families so we have to stand around and ask for hand outs from people that don't like us. HURRY UP AND GET US JUSTICE SO THAT WE ALL MAY RETURN BACK HOME!!!!!!!

re: Katrina lawsuit against Army Corps will proceed to trial

well Julia look at South Beach just a year before Katrina and they are well on there way to recovery. New Orleans was composed mostly of blacks and although we all lost everything Barbara Bush was not speaking of you when she made her statement. And no I am not living better now then I did pre Karrina. I have worked in this nation for since I was 15 and now am living displaced by Katrina my insurance company refused to pay me for damage to my home. Tell me where is the justice for me and other members citizens of Orleans Parish.

re: Katrina lawsuit against Army Corps will proceed to trial

I THINK THAT THE RESIDENTS OF NEW ORLEANS,KENNER,AND METARIE AND SURROUNDING AREAS SHOULD BE COMPENSATED FOR THIER LOSES WITH MONEY;EVEN THO IT MAY NOT GIVE THEM BACK EVERY THING THEY LOST,IT'S A VERY GOOD STAURT.

re: Katrina lawsuit against Army Corps will proceed to trial

I`m disable lived up town area lost every thing had to leve my
medicl equpment can`t get back home I depend on the corps to protec me in my city fema gave us something but used that to lived here in TX now that`s gone still what about getting back home it`s been six years I want to go home. Took me 6 days to get out of new orleans my wife almost died but GOD was on my side. We are both disable do something for us why be so cold blooded please!