A notable news item for victims of Hurricane Katrina and those who keep an eye on hurricane litigation, today’s civil suit against the federal government for the failure of levees to protect inhabitants will bring national attention to this issue.
NEW ORLEANS — A groundbreaking civil suit begins in federal court here today to consider claims by property owners that the Army Corps of Engineers amplified the destructive effects of Hurricane Katrina by building a poorly designed navigation channel adjacent to the city.
The Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet, a 76-mile-long channel known locally as MR-GO and pronounced “Mister Go,” was completed in 1968 and created a straight shot to the Gulf of Mexico from New Orleans. The suit claims that the channel was flawed in its design, construction, and operation, and that those flaws intensified the flood damage to the eastern parts of New Orleans and St. Bernard parish.
If they win, the plaintiffs — a local newscaster, Norman Robinson, and five other people whose homes or businesses were destroyed by the 2005 storm — could pave the way for more than 400,000 other plaintiffs who have also filed claims against the government over Katrina’s destruction.
We will be closely monitoring this case as it has widespread implications for future incidences in the region and for homeowners in the Gulf.