Massive Katrina Flood Lawsuit Filed by Victims

February 9, 2007

Reported by: Associated Press

The federal government and Army Corps of Engineers are targeted in a new lawsuit that alleges flooding during Hurricane Katrina was the fault of a corps decision to allow dredging of the 17th Street Canal, weakening the soil base that supported its levees.

The suit, which seeks class-action status and unspecified damages, was filed yesterday in U.S. District Court by a legal team led by Joseph Bruno and representing seven residents of the Lakeview area. The neighborhood was hard hit by flooding when a levee on the east side of the 17th Street Canal broke.

If class-action status is granted, tens of thousands of New Orleans residents and claims in the tens of billions of dollars could be affected.

The suit's basic argument - liability of the corps - was bolstered by a decision last week. In that ruling, U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval allowed to go forward a suit charging the corps with liability for flooding of eastern New Orleans and St. Bernard Parish from the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet. The ship channel, maintained by the corps, connects New Orleans' inner harbor with the Gulf of Mexico. Bruno is also involved in this suit.

The corps declined to comment on the suit.