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Suit over Katrina damage to begin

Sept. 10, 2012 at 4:23 PM

NEW ORLEANS, Sept. 10 (UPI) -- Hurricane Katrina's 2005 flooding of neighborhoods in New Orleans heads to court over responsibility and liability, court documents said.

Millions of dollars are at stake in the decision on whether the city's Lower 9th Ward was flooded because water overflowing flood walls on the Industrial Canal caused failures in two places along the walls, or if the walls had been compromised by work on a nearby lock, The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune reported Monday.

In a federal court trial schedule to begin Wednesday, attorneys representing residents of the Lower 9th Ward and nearby St. Bernard Parish will claim an Army Corps of Engineers contractor removed critical buildings and pilings to widen the canal's shipping lock and inadequately plugged the holes left behind, allowing the Hurricane to seep beneath the 14-foot high floodwall, contributing to the wall's failure, the newspaper said.

Lawyers for the contractor say floodwaters rising over the walls caused sections of the wall to rupture, flooding the neighborhoods.

U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval Jr. ruled in 2009 flooding was not the result of water coming from rapidly eroding floodwalls, and neighborhood residents were thus not eligible for payment. A ruling against the contractor in the new trial could mean compensation for damages, the newspaper said.

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