A federal appeals court has reversed itself and thrown out a judge's landmark ruling that the Army Corps of Engineers is liable for billions of dollars in damage that property owners blame on its maintenance of a New Orleans shipping channel.
The same three-judge panel from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that sided with plaintiffs earlier this year withdrew that decision Monday and ruled in the federal government's favor.
The panel's new opinion says the corps is completely insulated from liability by a provision of the Federal Tort Claims Act.
An engineering expert has testified he believes excavation work performed by an Army Corps of Engineers contractor caused New Orleans' floodwalls to breach in two places during Hurricane Katrina.
Robert Bea, a retired University of California engineering professor, explained his position Monday during a trial of homeowners' claims against the corps and contractor Washington Group International Inc.
The Army Corps of Engineers is back on trial, seven years after Hurricane Katrina's storm surge shredded New Orleans' flood protection system.
Starting Wednesday, a federal judge will hear testimony in a lawsuit by several homeowners who claim negligence by the corps and a contractor caused the failure of floodwalls protecting the Lower 9th Ward and neighboring St. Bernard Parish.
The corps says rain and storm surge overtopped floodwalls along the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal.
Existing levees will be raised in two northeast Louisiana parishes starting in the next few weeks.
The levees held during the Mississippi River flood of 2011, but have settled gradually since being built in 1973.
Reynold Minsky is president of the 5th Louisiana Levee District board. He tells The News-Star of Monroe the changes will bring all of East Carroll Parish and most of Concordia Parish to 500-year flood protection levels.