A Valentine for Ivor van Heerden

Well, sort of.  I snitched the great video Ken McCarthy posted in comments and “wrapped” it in this post.  Please take a look and Be Mine – pass it on!


SLABBED salutes CrescentCityRay

SLABBED salutes CrescentCityRay who posted comments here several months ago, a man of courage who stepped forward and told the cost of floodwalls that failed to protect the city of New Orleans.

I am one of the crazy people from a flooded area in New Orleans.We rebuilt our home – above the Katrina flood line. The kids are back in school and seem ok. Over 60% of our neighbors are back. Things are looking up.

Nevertheless, I cry uncontrollably nearly every day. While I have been fortunate (up until recently) to have work since the levee failures, the crying and stuff has made it a lot harder to be productive in my work and I don’t think co-workers want to be around people like me.

I think of suicide daily too. Yes, I am getting talk therapy as well as medications that make me cry less at the expense of my motivation and attention. Call me names if you must, but I am doing the best I can.

Why are we feeling so crazy? There are a number of reasons:

1. People claim our disaster, in New Orleans, was a natural disaster, when in fact our outfall canal floodwalls fell down long before even being overtopped by floodwaters because of stupid engineering mistakes made in the floodwall foundation designs by US Army Corps of Engineers’ engineers as reported in all three levee failure investigation reports. Continue reading “SLABBED salutes CrescentCityRay”

Flood Mitigation and Risk: For every benefit there is a cost. Free lunches are only available in Oz

I’ve been holding onto a news story that I know will be of interest to our good friend Editilla over at the Ladder that I hope will set the tone for some thoughtful discussion on the wisdom of filling in marshes and then building levees to protect the resulting development. We’ve discussed flood mitigation in depth here on Slabbed and we’re fans of it. What we’re not fans of is filling in wetlands and building levees and the reason is simple, the water has to go someplace and in this case it is the non-marshy, once high and dry areas of the Mississippi Gulf Coast that take the hit.

Predictably the Army Corps of Engineers mislead local officials, this time assuring local leaders such as Hancock County Board of Supervisor president Rocky Pullman the levee construction related to Lake Pontchartrain that is contained in the Louisiana Coastal Restoration Plan would not impact the Mississippi coast when their own study painted a much different picture. Let’s visit with a recent AP story run in the Clarion Ledger to get the details:

Hancock County officials have told the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that a new levee system planned to protect eastern Louisiana from future hurricanes will likely increase flooding in parts of coastal Mississippi.

The Hancock County board of supervisors met with Corps officials last week to talk about the corps’ Louisiana Coastal Restoration Plan, which includes two large floodgates, or weirs, and a line of levees stretching from New Orleans East up the Pearl River…….

Local officials had been assured in March (by USACE) that none of the current construction would adversely affect South Mississippi.

Pullman told the newspaper the plan the corps now proposes would mean that once water gets trapped in the levee system, “it is going to go to the path of least resistance, which is us, only 19 miles away.”

And as detailed Louisiana Coastal Restoration Plan the Army Corps acknowledges land that was once high and dry in Mississippi will pay the price for allowing unwise risky development in the Louisiana marshes:

“It was determined that the LACRP ‘weir’ alignment and high/level Slidell levee alignment would impact Hancock County through increased flooding.” Continue reading “Flood Mitigation and Risk: For every benefit there is a cost. Free lunches are only available in Oz”

brief? Not if it’s 125 pages – a MRGO post-trial update

Post Trial Briefs–no Findings of Fact or Conclusions of Law are required to be filed and are optional. Briefs cannot exceed 125 pages…

  • Plaintiffs’ Post-Trial Memorandum shall be filed by June 18, 2009.
  • Defendants’ Post Trial Memorandum shall be filed by July 20, 2009.
  • Plaintiffs’ Reply Memorandum shall be filed by August 3, 2009.

With the issues Judge Duval wants briefed, 125 pages may be a bit of a squeeze, as these examples from the three-page list in his Order detailing the post-trial briefing schedule suggest:

  • Explain why some levees failed and others did not and how that supports the Plaintiffs’ theory of front side erosion and lateral subsidence.

SLABBED Daily – June 2

The phrase “reduce our risk” does not exist here, because them, that is not an option. In Holland, they essentially obliterate risk.

Editilla’s Ladder has been full of stories about Holland’s  “we shall live with, enjoy and also protect our selves from water” attitude, including the one with these quotes from levees.org.

Last evening, I went over and scooped up as many links as I could to reports from the study group headed by Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu and Lisa Jackson, Director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) .

Louisiana Senator Landrieu, EPA Head, Jackson lead Netherlands Delegation on Day One.

Netherlands, Louisiana, New Orleans and the US: The Color of Water

Louisiana Delegation, Landrieu, EPA Jackson Continue Study of Netherlands

The Dutch strive to make their country ‘climate proof’ is a related story in the New York Times that’s well worth a read – and Losing Louisiana:  A Tale of Two Coasts, the package posted in the online Advertiser is top flight

U.S. environment chief praises Dutch water systems provides the closing summary:

The top U.S. environmental official said Tuesday that America can learn much from the way the Dutch manage water — focusing more on living with it than on trying to control it at every turn. Continue reading “SLABBED Daily – June 2”

SLABBED Daily – May 16-17 (weekend edition)

An earlier version of the weekend SLABBED Daily was an invitation to brunch; but, it went back in the oven.  Not to worry, here’s something to chew on – Corps picks 11 for levee work

The Army Corps of Engineers has awarded contracts to 11 companies — most of them local and all but two in Louisiana — that could share up to $500 million in levee construction work.

Each company is expected to be awarded between $10 million and $50 million of work under a program that allows the corps to prequalify contractors it can later tap when work becomes available. The companies are all designated as small or disadvantaged…

The contracts will be for heavy construction work for levees; floodwalls; pump station construction or enlargement; road, culvert and canal construction or repair; concrete bridge work; earthen channel enlargement and concrete lining; concrete or stone armoring; and installing foreshore protection in water bodies in front of levees…

The issue of contractor liability is what made this story a brunch-buster – and what links it to MRGO and the Responders re: Katrina Consolidated Levee Breach Litigation.

Early last week (May 11) the MRGO Plaintiffs filed notice of Appeal of the Court’s decision regarding WGI, a contractor who worked on the levees prior to Katrina. Continue reading “SLABBED Daily – May 16-17 (weekend edition)”

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. Continue reading “Drove my Chevy to the Katrina Canal Breaches Consolidated Litigation (part 1)”

MRGO – USA signed waiver of rights to seek disqualification of counsel

Much to my amazement, the USA actually included a copy of the fully executed Joint Defense and Cost Share Agreement with the Motion filed by USA attorney Robin Smith in apparent violation of the Agreement  – go figure!

SLABBED reported the USA motion here and the Plaintiff’s response in opposition here .

One of us would read the Agreement aloud if wordpress offered that feature.  Instead,below you will find selected, relevant sections from and a link to the fully executed Agreement (h/t Defendant USA) and some of Judge Duval’s “make-my-day” comments from the official transcript (h/t Robinson Plaintiffs).

Joint Defense and Cost Share Agreement

This Joint Defense and Cost Share Agreement (“Agreement”) is entered into by and among the United States of America (United States), Board of Commissioners of the Orleans Parish Levee District, Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans, Board of Commissioners of the East Jefferson Levee District, State of Louisiana (Department of Transportation and Development), The Parish of Jefferson, and Board of Commissioners for the. Port of New Orleans acting through and upon the advice of their respective counsel…

The Agreement applies to Re Katrina Canal Breeches Consolidated Litigation (Levee), which is pending, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana as Civil Action No. 05-4182 (the “Federal Litigation”), and various actions pending in the courts of the State of Louisiana seeking similar relief (the “State Litigation”) (collectively referred to as “the Litigation”).

Recognizing the need to balance the benefits of consolidating the litigation with the potential for conflicting interests, provisions were added that required all parties to waiver rights to seek disqualification, including, but not limited to Sections 11, 13, and 20.

Continue reading “MRGO – USA signed waiver of rights to seek disqualification of counsel”

USA’s Phantom conflict evokes spirited response from MRGO Plaintiffs

Uncle Sam embarrassed. MRGO Plaintiffs retain outside ethics counsel.
Uncle Sam embarrassed? MRGO Plaintiffs retain outside ethics counsel.

Without warning, at approximately 5:15 p.m. Tuesday, April 28, 2009, and during the Government’s cross examination of a witness that Mr. Andry had just finished examining on direct, Mr. Andry and the Court were advised by Robin Smith of the filing of a Motion to Disqualify Mr. Andry and Ms. Sherman from this matter.

Robin Smith represented to the Court that the USA had not yet “ascertained” the facts, but was filing a motion in the event of a “potential” conflict of interest…Mr. Smith, as an officer of this Court, specifically declared,”We became aware of this conflict or potential conflict late last week and we sought guidance from our professional advisory office. We just received their report today advising us to go ahead and file this. It’s an issue for the Court to look into. It’s not something for us to determine. We can’t do it. We don’t know the facts. Opposition to USA’s Motion to Show Cause Why Plaintiffs’ Attorneys…Should not be Disqualified(emphasis in document)

Yesterday must have been Mr. Smith’s day to specifically declare.  According to the attached Affidavit of attorney Elwood C. Stevens, Jr., his brief conversation with USA attorney Smith ended with Smith specifically declaring:

…he was tired of plaintiffs’ counsel offering him ethics advice and he declined to withdraw the motion.

Likely, Plaintiffs’ counsel was tired of the need to offer ethics advice to an attorney representing our government.  Uncle Sam was probably embarrassed the Plaintiffs had to retain an outside  Ethics expert but they did and the affidavit of attorney Basile Uddo is included, too, as are Continue reading “USA’s Phantom conflict evokes spirited response from MRGO Plaintiffs”

SLABBED Daily – April 28 (a MRGO update)

If my computer cooperates, we’ll have a MRGO update and a morning edition of the SLABBED Daily – but the way things went yesterday, that’s a big IF.

The first item –  Minute Entry Pertains to: MRGO, RobinsonMinute Entry Pertains to: MRGO, Robinson – tells us the issue raised in the Plaintiffs’ Memorandum reported in the April 24th  SLABBED Daily was settled before the end of the day it was filed (April 23):

At the close of testimony on this day, trial counsel met for a status conference concerning Plaintiffs’ Memorandum… After a full discussion concerning the parties’ positions concerning these issues and the Government’s averring that it was not its intention to contend that the LPV structures were improperly designed or did not perform as expected, Plaintiffs’ counsel asked that the memorandum be withdrawn.

Item two is brand new!  However, I suspect Motion to Compel Discovery re: Reliance Materials of Defendant’s Expert Bruce Ebersole was similarly addressed after Court today.

At the heart of the current dispute is Mr. Ebersole’s failure to produce a series of calculations upon which he based his opinions. At deposition, it was pointed out to Mr. Ebersole that there was substantial concern about the validity of his calculations in “modeling” his storm surge hydrographs. Continue reading “SLABBED Daily – April 28 (a MRGO update)”