Thursday, January 31, 2008
A federal judge has thrown out a class action lawsuit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers over the failure of levees in New Orleans, citing an 80 year old law.
Stanwood Duval ruled that the corps, which designed and built the levees and floodwalls meant to keep New Orleans from being inundated, could not be sued because of a 60-year-old law.
The flood control act of 1928 makes the federal government immune from lawsuits over flood control projects.
Excerpts from Judge Duval
"Often, when the King can do no wrong, his subjects suffer the consequences. Such is the case here. This story -- 50 years in the making -- is heart-wrenching. Millions of dollars were squandered in building a levee system with respect to these outfall canals which was known to be inadequate by the corps' own calculations."
"While the United States government is immune ... it is not free, nor should it be, from posterity's judgment concerning its failure to accomplish what was its task," Stanwood said, lamenting his inability to take further action.
"It is hopefully within the citizens of the United States' power to address the failures of our laws and agencies," he said. "If not, it is certain that another tragedy such as this will occur again."
Stanwood called the story of the Corps failure to protect New Orleans "heart-wrenching."
"Millions of dollars were squandered in building a levee system ... which was known to be inadequate by the Corps' own calculations," the ruling said. The Corps' own studies recommended upgrades that were never implemented.