Corps Neglect Doomed Some New Orleans Homes, Judge Rules

"In a groundbreaking decision, a federal judge ruled late Wednesday that the Army Corps of Engineers' mismanagement of maintenance at the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet  was directly responsible for flood damage in St. Bernard Parish and the Lower 9th Ward after Hurricane Katrina.

'The failure of the Corps to recognize the destruction that the MRGO had caused and the potential hazard that it created is clearly negligent on the part of the Corps,' said U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval Jr. in his ruling. 'Furthermore, the Corps not only knew, but admitted by 1988, that the MRGO threatened human life ... and yet it did not act in time to prevent the catastrophic disaster that ensued with the onslaught of Hurricane Katrina.'

'The Corps' lassitude and failure to fulfill its duties resulted in a catastrophic loss of human life and property in unprecedented proportions,' Duval wrote. 'The Corps' negligence resulted in the wasting of millions of dollars in flood protection measures and billions of dollars in Congressional outlays to help this region recover from such a catastrophe. Certainly, Congress would never have meant to protect this kind of nonfeasance on the part of the very agency that is tasked with the protection of life and property.'

Duval's 156-page decision could result in the federal government paying $700,000 in damages to three people and a business in those areas, but also sets the stage for judgments worth billions of dollars against the government for damages suffered by as many as 100,000 other residents, businesses and local governments in those areas who filed claims with the corps after Katrina."

Mark Schleifstein reports for the New Orleans Times-Picayune November 18, 2009.

See Also:

"Judge: Corps' Negligence Caused Katrina Flooding" (AP)

Thursday, November 19, 2009