Drove my Chevy to the Katrina Canal Breaches Consolidated Litigation (part 1)

Today is the day we start  the mind-boggling task of looking at the Katrina Canal Breaches Consolidated Litigation.  Inclusive of Robinson v US Army Corps of Engineers,  MRGO, we begin with an examination of the impressive infrastructure of the case established in Case Management Order Number 1: Protocol for Case Management.

In re Katrina Canal Breaches Consolidated Litigation, CA No. 05-4182, as designated by Case Management Order No.1 issued on July 19, 2006, is the umbrella caption under which all litigation arising out of Hurricane Katrina is to be filed. For case management purposes, CA No. 05-4182 has been divided into several sub-categories, wherein each suit within the scope of this consolidated litigation is placed based on the nature of the claims being brought.

After struggling to compose a brief narrative description of the case infrastructure, I determined even an imperfect, unofficial picture would be more understandable and created this graphic depiction of the case management.

Katrina cases 2

Cases assigned to the three categories for plaintiffs –  MRGO, Insurance, Levee – represent thousands of Louisiana residents with property damaged in the flooding that followed Hurricane Katrina.  Even with the efficiency of consolidation, the Docket of almost 19,000 entries would require over two reams of paper to print in list format.

No single blog post or even a series of posts can cover a case of that size in the detail we’ve covered others here on SLABBED.

But something touched me deep inside
The day the music died

What we can do, and what I am going to attempt to do, is provide a summary of the key issues and current status of the three categories of cases with supporting documents.

Time is a factor and not just the time it will take to produce the posts.  We are fast approaching the fourth anniversary of Katrina.   Even with pictures from the flooding forever etched in our mind, Katrina fatigue is very real.

Len Bahr reported the strangely quiet conclusion of the [MRGO] trial on lacoastpost.com: (h/t Editilla)

Thursday morning on May 14 I cranked up my little car and drove the familiar eighty three miles to downtown New Orleans. I wanted to be present on the historic final day of a trial with far more significance than the 1995 murder trial of OJ Simpson.

I approached a uniformed official outside of the Hale Boggs Federal Courthouse on Poydras to make sure that I had the right venue for the proceedings. He knew about the MRGO trial and the name of the judge so I assumed that the event would be packed. To my consternation the third floor courtroom was quieter than a church on the Sunday after Easter.

After attending raucous meetings about closing MRGO for years I have become familiar with a crowd of folks who have used every opportunity to express their indignation with the corps for constructing the MRGO in the first place and for keeping it operational for over forty years, despite very little commercial use. In contrast, as I walked in and looked around I recognized only three faces, two of whom belonged to Dr. Ivor van Heerden, expert witness* and Cain Burdeau A/P reporter…

Based on what I heard during several hours of cross examination, this trial closed after four weeks of what must have been excruciatingly technical testimony. Lack of interest on the final day may partly reflect this contrast with the OJ spectacle, with its 24 hour breathless cable news coverage…

The chevy’s next stop will be Citizens Insurance.

Do you believe in rock and roll?

3 thoughts on “Drove my Chevy to the Katrina Canal Breaches Consolidated Litigation (part 1)”

  1. To the Authors of SLABBED: Gentlemen and Ladies: Tell me how I can help you, other than to refer you to my Memorandum to Journalist James Gill of “The Times-Pick-Your-Nose” of 10/14/07? Before proceeding to cases or categories, it seems to me that your readers need to understand the infrastructure, how it was created, and by whom, why, and what it means to those who were not “annointed” and their many, many totally innocent clients. Just one man’s opinion. Thank you for the public service you are providing.

  2. I don’t have an informed opinion about the liability question, but I do about the marsh loss.
    Look at this satellite photo from April 29, 2008. The Mississippi River had been above flood stage for more than a month and the Bonnet Carre spillway had been open for several weeks as evidenced by the brown water along the south shore of Lake Ponchartrain. Yet with enormous amounts of fresh water and sediment in the river, none of it reached and replenished the St. Bernard and Plaquemines marshes east and west of the river below New Orleans. Instead, all that sediment is shoved out through the Mississippi and Atchafalay to create a huge Dead Zone in the Gulf.
    A few weeks before Katrina, Reps. Taylor and Melancon met with the Corps to discuss widening Violet Canal as a freshwater diversion outlet into Lake Borgne, the Biloxi marshes and the Mississippi Sound. The Corps believed that it would be a futile effort because MRGO’s salt water intrusion would offset it.
    To rebuild the marsh, we need to close MRGO but we also need to create a controlled diversion of freshwater and sediment from the Mississippi. Sediment from the river is what built the marshes in the first place, and the Mississippi levee system is what starved those marshes. MRGO accelerated and enhanced that process.

    Here is the 1km image from 4/29/08: http://rapidfire.sci.gsfc.nasa.gov/subsets/?subset=AERONET_Stennis.2008120.terra.1km
    Click on the 250m option for a zoomed view.

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