The Court of Federal Claims in St. Bernard Parish Gov’t v. United States, No. 05-1119L (May 1. 2015) – has ruled in favor of a class of plaintiffs including St. Bernard Parish (Louisiana has parishes instead of counties) and citizens of the Ninth Ward in New Orleans for flooding damages they suffered when the levees broke during Hurricane Katrina. Plaintiffs asserted the United States, and specifically the Army Corps of Engineers, decisions to reroute the flow, build levees and failures in maintaining the levees led to the flooding and constituted an inverse condemnation/temporary taking of their property.
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In a lengthy but fascinating opinion, the Court details the history of the extreme southern Mississippi River Delta and the changes made to the flow, including levee construction. Summing it all up, the Court held:
The Army Corps’ construction, expansions, operation, and failure to maintain the MR-GO caused subsequent storm surge that was exacerbated by a “funnel effect” during Hurricane Katrina and subsequent hurricanes and severe storms, causing flooding on Plaintiffs’ properties that effected a temporary taking under the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution.