Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Corpse attempts to evade responsibility for flood

New Orleans CityBusiness -- The Business Newspaper of Metropolitan New Orleans:
"The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers wants a judge to grant it immunity from legal action in the wake of Hurricane Katrina..

Attorneys and plaintiffs who filed suit in federal court seeking compensation for damages, injuries and deaths caused by the surge of the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet during Hurricane Katrina today denounced the motion.

Fourteen California, Florida and Louisiana law firms have filed suit seeking reparations for the damages caused by MRGO, saying the inundation of the Lower Ninth Ward, eastern New Orleans and St. Bernard Parish was caused by glaring deficiencies in the construction, design, operation and maintenance of the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet by the Corps.

Pierce O’Donnell of Los Angeles, a lead attorney for the plaintiffs, said “the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet is a navigable waterway and, under federal law, the Corps operations on the MRGO are liable to legal action.”

Attorneys for the Corps asked Federal District Court Judge Stanwood Duval Jr. to throw out the “just compensation” lawsuit on the grounds the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is immune from lawsuits, including those finding fault with its work on the MRGO.

“The motions by Corps’ attorneys is just another attempt to cover up the Army Corps’ gross negligence and to avoid responsibility for the deaths of hundreds of local citizens as well as the loss of hundreds and millions of dollars of public and private property during Hurricane Katrina,' O'Donnell said. 'The government’s effort to secure immunity also seeks to delay just compensation for the desperate victims of the MRGO whose lives were utterly shattered by the totally preventable catastrophic flooding caused by the MRGO.”

Joining attorneys and plaintiffs in denouncing the government’s motion was New Orleans City Councilmember Cynthia Willard-Lewis whose district was flooded by the MRGO storm surge during Hurricane Katrina.

“While St. Bernard Parish, eastern New Orleans and the Lower Ninth Ward remain in ruins, tottering on the brink of bankruptcy, the federal government plays games by filing frivolous motions that seek to exempt them from their moral responsibility for what happened,” said Willard-Lewis.

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