Judge will hear motion for summary judgment in levee district class action

Alejandro de los Rios Jun. 30, 2010, 3:58am

Judge Piper Griffin will hear a motion for summary judgment in a class action suit against the Board of Commissioners for the Orleans Levee on Friday in Orleans Parish Civil District Court.

Jefferson parish residents Susan and William Laurendine are the lead class members in a class action suit against the Orleans Levee district, the Parish of Orleans, the Department of Transportation and Development, the Sewerage and Water Board and the state of Louisiana.

The class is suing because of the damage caused by the failure of the 17th Street levee which resulted in a 500-foot breach that flooded several houses and commercial businesses. The suit claims the Orleans Levee District is liable for building levees and flood walls "which were below standard," failing to test the barriers and failing to "bind the walls together."

New Orleans attorney Darlene Jacobs is representing the class.

Metairie attorney Thomas Anzelmo Sr. is representing Orleans Levee. New Orleans attorneys Lambert Hassinger Jr. and Timothy Hassinger are representing the rest of the defendants.

Plaintiffs filed motion for partial summary judgment, citing La. R.S. 36:508.3A as amended by Acts 2004 No. 130, (1) which created the Office of Public Works and Intermodal Transportation under the Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) which sees to matters "including engineering, relating to the programs of the state with respect to the design, construction, extension, improvement, repair, and regulation of ... public works functions of the state related to flood and drainage control..."

The motion states that "Petitioners simply seek partial summary judgment on the limited issue of whether, on or before August 25, 2005, the DOTD had a duty to undertake those matters set fort in the version of La. R.S. 36:508.3A that was in effect at the time."

The defense opposition to the motion argues that the plaintiffs "provide no evidence concerning what 'matters' the DOTD was require to undertake or did undertake as a matter of fact because they have conduct no discovery on any of these issues."

The opposition further claims that the plaintiffs "have failed to present a concrete, justiciable controversy to be resolved"..."they seek an impermissible advisory opinion regarding Louisiana Revised Statue 36:508.3(A), which Louisiana courts repeatedly have held is improper."

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