New Orleans – Some homeowners said the construction made their china dishes fall off the shelves. Others said that their foundations were cracking and river rats had taken up residence.
Now, Orleans Parish Civil District Court Judge Nakisha Ervin-Knott has ruled that the New Orleans Sewerage & Water Board (SWB) is legally responsible for damage done to more than 350 Uptown homes and businesses as a result of the massive SELA drainage project in 2015.
According to a statement released by the plaintiffs’ attorney, Michael Whitaker, Judge Ervin-Knott granted the plaintiff’s motion for partial summary judgement. Whitaker’s statement says the decision casts the SWB as the “sole, responsible party for claims of inverse condemnation, custodial liability and timber pile driving claims.”
According to Whitaker’s statement, 25 claims have gone to trial for a total of $3.1 million in damages.
“The SWB and its team of high-priced lawyers and out-of -town expert witnesses,” said Whitaker in the statement, “fought us bitterly for 4.5 years, so this is a huge win that should remove any major delays.”
Home and business owners had first tried to sue the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which oversaw the construction. But the Corps is granted immunity from that type of lawsuit because it’s a federal agency.
No comment yet from the SWB.