(CN) – Residents in St. Bernard Parish, La., and the Ninth Ward of New Orleans have legal standing to pursue a takings claim against the Army Corps of Engineers after Hurricane Katrina flooded the area in 2005, the Court of Federal Claims ruled.
The Washington, D.C.-based court ruled that flood damage following Hurricane Katrina was caused by the inadequate construction and maintenance of the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet.
Residents sued the Army Corps of Engineers almost two months after Katrina traveled up the channel, overwhelmed the levees and flooded the area in August 2005. They argued that the 76-mile channel’s construction made their properties vulnerable to flooding.
The federal claims court said the landowners established that they owned property in St. Bernard Parish or the Ninth Ward of New Orleans that experienced severe flooding during the hurricane, as well as “intermittent reoccurring flooding fairly traceable to the construction, operation and maintenance of the (channel.)”
The court, however, dismissed a part of the complaint arguing they were deprived of future benefits and profits of their land as a result of the flood.
“The ‘Just Compensation Clause’ only affords a financial remedy for property loss caused by the physical taking of private property,” Judge Braden wrote. “The sovereign must pay only for what it takes, not for opportunities the owner loses.”