NEW ORLEANS (CN) – Trial begins today against the Army Corps of Engineers, from homeowners who claim poor work on levees caused the catastrophic flooding of the Lower Ninth Ward after Hurricane Katrina.
U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval Jr. today will hear opening testimony from homeowners who say claims their homes flooded not because of rain and storm surges, but because negligent improvement work done by the Corps of Engineers and a private contractor weakened the levees.
Judge Duval oversaw a separate Katrina-flooding case in 2008 directed at the Corps of Engineers maintenance and design of a shipping channel, the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet, also known as the Mr. Go.
Duval ruled in 2009 that the Corps of Engineers negligent design and maintenance of the Mr. Go was at fault in the massive flooding of the Lower Ninth Ward after Hurricane Katrina, and that the Corps of Engineers knew for years that the design was flawed, but did nothing to prevent the catastrophe.
Duval wrote in his ruling that “at some point simple engineering knowledge – like wave wake is going to destroy the surrounding habitat and create a hazard – cannot be ignored, and the safety of an entire metropolitan area cannot be compromised.”
A favorable ruling for plaintiffs in the case that begins today could clear the way for many more property damage claims against the Corps of Engineers.
The trial is expected to last for 60 days.
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