Judge blasts Army Corps of Engineers in Katrina suit

April 16, 2013 at 4:52 PM
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NEW ORLEANS, April 16 (UPI) -- U.S. law has given the Army Corps of Engineers, "a bureaucratic behemoth," legal immunity for its flawed work in New Orleans, a federal judge said.

In an opinion handed down Friday, U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval blamed the agency for much of the flooding in the city during Hurricane Katrina, the (New Orleans) Times-Picayune reported Tuesday. Duval, who has been handling "this hydra-like 'Katrina Umbrella' litigation" for eight years said this might be his last ruling.

"I feel obligated to note that the bureaucratic behemoth that is the Army Corps of Engineers is virtually unaccountable to the citizens it protects despite the Federal Tort Claims Act," Duval concluded. "The public will very possibly be more jeopardized by a lack of accountability than a rare judgment granting relief. The untold billions of dollars of damage incurred by the greater New Orleans area as a result of the levee failures during Katrina speak eloquently to that point."

The lengthy litigation has combined findings about what caused levee failures during Hurricane Katrina and the intertwined effect of the Federal Tort Claims Act, which covers damage claims against the federal agency, and a 1928 law protecting the Corps from damage claims.

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