La. — The city of Walker has joined a lawsuit against the state of
Louisiana and the Department of Transportation and Development over a
barrier and flood damage.
which was filed Jan. 5, has the cities of Walker and Denham Springs,
along with the Williamson Eye Center, Timothy John Kinchen and
Shannon Farris Kinchen as plaintiffs. They allege
that during flooding in August 2016, the recently constructed
Interstate 12 barrier actually contributed to the destruction caused
by the waters by acting as a dam and retaining water instead of
allowing it to disseminate naturally.
continue to recover and rebuild to federal specifications we will
continue to put the safety of the traveling public at the forefront
of DOTD activities," a statement released by the
DOTD said. "Our future efforts will include lessons learned
from the storm and how best to utilize this knowledge."
suit also names
21 contractors who had a part in the construction of the barrier in
what was known as the “Geaux Wider” project. The barrier is 19
miles in length and its repair is the chief request of the suit.
Monetary relief is also requested to help residents account for the
loss of property and income.
Attorney Josh Palmintier of the Law
Offices of Michael C. Palmintier and John Neale deGravelles of
Baton Rouge, representing Walker in this matter, alleged
that more than 100,000 of the city's residences suffered damage and
did not have flood insurance to cover the destruction because they
were not in what was traditionally designated as a high-risk flood
“We are aware of the allegations of the lawsuit and
respect due process and the right to file suit. Gov. (John Bel)
Edwards and DOTD Secretary Dr. Shawn Wilson met with the previous
mayor of Walker to discuss his concerns shortly after the event,”
Rodney Mallett of the Louisiana Department of Transportation and
Development told The
unprecedented flood event resulting from historic rains caused
tremendous damage and destruction.”
Mallett said the matter is being investigated by the DOTD.
“We continue to study the
ramifications of public infrastructure in natural disasters. DOTD's
focus is on what is best for citizens of Louisiana, in doing so,
safety of the traveling public must always be our first priority,”
Former Walker Mayor Rick Ramsey initiated steps for
the lawsuit before departing office at the start of this year.
Current Mayor Jimmy Watson has stated
his support for the continuation of the legal proceedings.
hydrologist from Rice University in a report
said that the barrier was a “substantial factor in causing flooding
… north of the barrier... .” Palmintier hired the
“Safety barriers constructed on Louisiana
interstates are designed and constructed according to national
standards,” Mallett said.
of the plaintiffs in the case are Mitchell A. Toups of Weller Green,
Toups and Terrell of Beaumont, Texas; and Joseph Bruno of Bruno and
Bruno of New Orleans.