Information About MRGO Litigation
Joseph M. Bruno, Managing Partner of Bruno & Bruno, serves as the court-appointed liaison counsel In Re Katrina Canal Breaches Consolidated Litigation in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.
Mr. Bruno led the efforts on behalf of the citizens and residents of New Orleans who suffered catastrophic losses due to the gross negligence of the United States Army Corps of Engineers, which caused the flooding of New Orleans.
There were many thousands of lawsuits filed, but these can be divided into four separate litigation tracks: The LEVEE Litigation (for damage caused by the failures of the New Orleans outfall canals); the MRGO Litigation (for damage to St. Bernard Parish, New Orleans East, and New Orleans’ Lower and Upper Ninth Wards); the Katrina Insurance Litigation (for failure of Louisiana homeowners insurance companies to properly and timely adjust the claims of damaged Louisiana policyholders); and the Barge Litigation (which alleges a separate cause of flooding to the Lower Ninth Ward).
Frequently Asked Questions
What was the originating litigation?
Numerous class actions were filed against various parties and the Corps of Engineers after Hurricane Katrina. These were consolidated by Judge Duval into two separate cases (referred to as LEVEE and MRGO). The MRGO case included areas east of the Industrial Canal: New Orleans East, the Lower Ninth Ward and St. Bernard Parish; as well as the portions of the Upper Ninth Ward. The LEVEE case included areas west of the Industrial Canal that flooded due to the outfall canal flood wall failures (17th Street, Orleans, London, and Industrial Canals).
What is the LEVEE lawsuit about?
The lawsuit alleges LEVEEs and other flood and water control structures failed and/or were overtopped as a result of Hurricane Katrina because they were not properly designed, inspected or maintained, and that this failure caused property loss, property damage and personal injury. The defendants say that the LEVEEs failed for reasons beyond their control and that they did not do anything wrong. Please refer to www.leveebreachclass.com for more information.
What is the status of the LEVEE case?
Finding that the Corps of Engineers was guilty of gross negligence in the failures of the 17th Street Canal and London Avenue Canal flood walls, Judge Duval reluctantly dismissed the Corps of Engineers from LEVEE due to the Corp’s immunity for flood control projects, and that ruling is awaiting appeal. Also, the court has approved a settlement with the LEVEE districts. However, the court has not yet determined how these settlement funds will be disbursed. Numerous appeals have been taken by objectors to that settlement.
What is the MRGO lawsuit about?
The lawsuit alleges that the Corps’s negligent operating and maintenance of the MRGO caused increased waves, increased the conveyance of water and increased the hurricane surge that destroyed or overtopped the LEVEEs and other flood and water control structures, and that this negligence caused property loss, property damage and personal injury.
What is the status of the MRGO case?
Judge Duval ruled that the MRGO was a navigation project and not a flood control project, and as such so the Corps was not entitled to shield its negligence, unlike the ruling in the LEVEE lawsuit. In April 2009, a portion of the MRGO claims went to trial in the Robinson case. This was a “test” case, designed to resolve common legal and factual issues. Two people were chosen from each MRGO area (six people in total), so Judge Duval’s ruling will only address the claims of those six people. This is a win for those six people, but the attorneys believe that they will be able to apply Judge Duval’s findings for common legal and factual issues to all of the MRGO cases.
Am I a part of the case?
Federal administrative procedures require that anyone who makes a claim against the Corps of Engineers must file Standard Form 95 (SF95). The deadline for filing this form was two years after Hurricane Katrina on August 29, 2007. Anyone who filed this claim form within that time frame is part of the case against the Corps of Engineers. This requirement of an SF95 does not apply to your claims against the LEVEE boards.
How do I know if the Corps received my SF95 claim form? How can I update my Mailing Address?
You must contact the Corps of Engineers directly. Due to privacy issues enacted by the court, we cannot assist you in this regard. You can contact the Corps by calling
504-525-1335. Please note that if you are represented by an attorney, the Corps will only be able to tell you if you timely filed a SF95 and update your mailing address. All other questions must be directed to your attorney.
If I filed an SF95 form, am I entitled to a recovery?
In a complex case such as this one, all of the claims arise out of an identifiable event affecting a very large number of people asserting personal injury and property damage claims. With a decision in the Robinson case, the attorneys hope to apply Judge Duval’s findings for common legal and factual issues to each person’s case. However, the amount of recovery cannot yet be known.
How do I determine if I am included in the LEVEE Board Settlement?
The class of persons and businesses covered by the settlement with the LEVEE Boards of Orleans, Jefferson and Lake Borgne is defined as follows: “All Persons (a) who at the time of Hurricane Katrina and/or Hurricane Rita (i) were located, present or residing in the Hurricane Affected Geographic Area, or (ii) owned, leased, possessed, used or otherwise had any interest in homes, places of business or other immovable or movable property on or in the Hurricane Affected Geographic Area, and (b) who incurred any losses, damages and/or injuries arising from, in any manner related to, or connected in any way with Hurricane Katrina and/or Hurricane Rita and any alleged LEVEE Failures and/or waters that originated from, over, under or through the LEVEEs under the authority and/or control of all or any of the LEVEE Defendants.”
Will I receive any money from the LEVEE Board Settlement?
No decision on how to divide the limited fund will be reached until after all appeals are decided by the appellate courts.
Where can I find out more information on the LEVEE Board Settlement?
You can download the official court-ordered notice here: www.leveebreachclass.com.
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