NEW ORLEANS – A Tangipahoa Parish property development group lost an appeal in the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals concerning a legal malpractice lawsuit against a New Orleans-based law firm.

The developers, Coves of the Highland Community Development District, was planing on issuing development district bonds to fund a residential subdivision just outside of Hammond and retained McGlinchey Stafford P.L.L.C. as bond counsel.

However, in March 2009 the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers published an announcement in a Hammond newspaper notifying residents that they had completed an inspection of the World War II-era Hammond Bombing and Gunnery Range and that the planned development was within the area of the former range. An subsequent inspection found there was potential for unexploded ordnance, munitions and explosives on the site. In April 2009 a Tangipahoa Parish engineer notified the developers that no further building permits would be issued until the risks of the bombing and gunnery range had been inspected.

The developers filed the original lawsuit in Nov. 2009, accusing McGlinchey Stafford P.L.L.C. of legal malpractice for failing to ensure an environmental assessment had been performed on the property. They claim such an assessment would have revealed any problems arising from the property’s former use. A district court dismissed the case, ruling that as bond counsel McGlinchey was not committed to any duty regarding environmental due diligence.

In a per curiam opinion, Circuit Judges Rhesa Barksdale, James Dennis and James Graves Jr. affirmed the district court’s dismissal. The court noted that the developers “failed to create a genuine issue as to whether the parties intended that McGlinchey perform environmental due diligence.”

Case No. 12-30096.

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