After deliberating for nearly eight hours, jurors in the Jefferson Parish class-action lawsuit involving nearly 40,000 homeowners reached a verdict.
The jury found the parish was negligent in drafting a doomsday plan but that the negligence did not cause the flooding.
Jurors also found Aaron Broussard did not act with willful misconduct.
Plaintiffs’ attorneys argued that the flooding would not have happened had pump operators remained on the job. But defense attorneys said the pumps would have been overwhelmed either way so the decision to evacuate the operators was the right one.
There was no comment from defense attorneys Wednesday night after the verdict was read.
But attorneys for the homeowners were dissatisfied with the jury’s decision.
“I’m disappointed that 40,000 homeowners and business owners didn’t get the verdict that they deserved. But at the same time, I guess Pyrrhic victory is the sort of deal here where in the future this won’t happen again,” said attorney Richard Martin.
Since Hurricane Katrina, Jefferson Parish constructed safe houses for pump operators that will allow them to safely remain on the job even during the strongest of hurricanes. Also, former Jefferson Parish president Aaron Broussard has pleaded guilty to federal corruption charges and is serving prison time. He testified during the trial via a videotaped deposition from 2007.
During the deposition, Broussard said he did not know the parish had a so-called doomsday plan. He also said that he was unaware that the pump operators were evacuated until after they’d left the area.