Defense counsel for the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board moved for Judge Piper Griffin to recuse herself from a class action case over the New Orleans levee system in Orleans Parish Civil District Court.
New Orleans attorneys Lambert Hassinger Jr. and Timothy Hassinger claimed that Griffin is not fit to preside over this case on the grounds that she was affected by the citywide flooding in New Orleans after the levees failed during hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Griffin stated that she did not file an insurance claim for that hurricane and that she was not affected by the flooding. A recusal hearing has been set for Sept. 24.
Jefferson parish residents Susan and William Laurendine are the lead 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 Sewerage and Water Board is liable for not properly maintaining levees and flood walls "which were below standard," failing to test the barriers and failing to "bind the walls together."
New Orleans attorney Darleen Jacobs is representing the class.
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."
Judge Griffin did not rule on the motion for partial summary judgment.