BATON ROUGE — The Livingston Parish School Board recently voted
in a unanimous decision to join a class-action lawsuit against the
Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development as well as the
company responsible for constructing Interstate 12.
The suit, filed Jan. 5 in Baton Rouge, alleges that the
construction of a median on the interstate worsened flooding that
occurred in August damaging several of the parish’s schools. The
Livingston Board voted Jan. 19 to join the suit, The Advocate
The school board joins the cities of Denham Springs and Walker in
seeking damages. The plaintiffs’ goal
is to prove that the concrete median acted as a dam during torrential
rain fall last autumn that impeded the water’s natural flow causing
significant damage to public buildings when the water finally did
Louisiana’s transportation department intends to use the same
design for the highway’s expansion project, a plan that attorney
Joshua Palmintier hopes will stop the suit, though it would take a
court order to do so, he told
Livingston Parish Public Schools Superintendent Rick Wentzel had
previously joined the lawsuit and encouraged the school board to
officially enter as well. The vote was presented at the school
board’s regularly scheduled meeting.
The plaintiffs hope that the addition of the district, which suffered
significant enough damage for three schools to have them remained
closed well into the second semester, will help the case.
In addition to the schools, several other buildings including area
residences and businesses sustained damage. The cities represented in
the suit maintain that the damages are impeding tax collections
causing a negative financial impact. The plaintiffs fear that if the
12-mile continuation of the median is completed, the construction
will create an even more-disastrous situation for the community in
the event of another flood.
Palmintier and his team have enlisted
the help of hydrologists to investigate and generate evidence of the
median’s construction flaws.