Corps of Engineers Contractor Open to Liability in Katrina Levee Failure
Posted on Sep 17, 2010 in Courts, Katrina, Local Issues
In a decision on Tuesday, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a federal judge’s ruling that Washington Group International (a contractor employed by the Army Corps of Engineers) was entitled to government-contractor immunity.
According to plaintiffs, WGI employed shoddy excavation and back-filling techniques that ultimately compromised the structural integrity of levees designed to keep the Industrial Canal from flooding the Lower Ninth Ward.
The original ruling protected WGI and other government-contractors from liability under the assertion that the contractors were operating under the direct instruction of the Army Corps of Engineers. According to the Fifth Circuit Court’s reversal, however, the Corps of Engineers did not provide instructions as to the methods to be employed and merely gave indications of budgetary restrictions to be followed. This would place liability with the contracting firms as to the methods which they elected to employ in their construction projects.
According to reports, there has yet to be ruling on whether or not the Army Corps of Engineers will be entitled to immunity in these proceedings.
The events surrounding the levee failures following Hurricane Katrina were the subject of a recent documentary by part-time New Orleans resident Harry Shearer called ‘The Big Uneasy’.
This recent ruling has significant implications for people affected by levee failures and breaches in the aftermath of the storm. If you or a loved one have suffered property damage as a result of levee failures in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, contact Bloom Legal today at 504-599-9997 to discuss how we can fight to help make things right.