Judges Step Aside From Jefferson Parish, La., Flood Suits

May 3, 2006

All 16 state district judges in Jefferson Parish, La., have disqualified themselves from hearing class-action lawsuits filed by property owners who blame parish government for post-Hurricane Katrina flooding that damaged their homes and businesses.

Every judge either has ties to parish president Aaron Broussard, one of the defendants in the suit, or has friends or family who sustained flood losses from the storm, said plaintiff attorney Glenn Cater.

The Louisiana Supreme Court will have to appoint a substitute judge.

Four sets have plaintiffs have filed state suits related to Broussard’s decision to evacuate drainage pump operators before Katrina, a move the property owners blamed for much of the devastating pumping. Three of the suits seek class-action status, said Parish Attorney Tom Wilkinson.

Another suit seeking class action status alleges the parish was negligent in failing to close a canal before Katrina. Still-another group has filed suit in federal court over the decision to evacuate the pump operators.

Information from: The Times-Picayune, www.timespicayune.com.

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