Lawyers plan to appeal verdict in flooding lawsuit
GRETNA (AP) — Attorneys who brought a class-action lawsuit against Jefferson Parish say they will appeal a 9-3 jury verdict that found the parish was negligent in its emergency response planning but that the negligence didn’t cause the flooding suffered by tens of thousands of Jefferson property owners during Hurricane Katrina.
Attorney Richard Martin said the plaintiffs’ legal team is still working out the details and may even go back to Judge John Peytavin’s court with a post-trial motion first, but that an appeal is a virtual certainty given the mixed verdict returned by the jury late Wednesday night.
With an estimated 40,000 flooded homes and businesses and a verdict the plaintiffs consider contradictory and confusing, Martin said, “It’s not over.”
“Did we really lose? I don’t think so,” he said.
The suit sought to find the parish, its drainage district, an insurer and former Parish President Aaron Broussard liable for the flooding because pump-station operators were evacuated 110 miles away to Mount Hermon as part of the parish’s so-called “doomsday plan” for dealing with an approaching hurricane.
Whatever happens, nothing goes forward until the judge issues a ruling based on the jury’s verdict. Once that happens, the plaintiffs have seven business days to file any post-trial motions in 24th Judicial District Court.
If the plaintiffs don’t go that route, or if they do and are unsuccessful, they have 67 calendar days from the date of the ruling to file an appeal to the state 5th Circuit Court of Appeal.