Louisiana Case of Jailed Tourists After Katrina Reviewed

By CAIN BURDEAU | December 7, 2011

Two Ohio tourists imprisoned for a month on public drunkenness charges in New Orleans’ notorious Orleans Parish Prison in the chaotic aftermath of Hurricane Katrina may get $650,000 in damages if a federal appellate court rules in their favor.

Lawyers for Robie Wagenfeald and Paul Kunkel Jr., both of Toledo, Ohio, argued in the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday that the two friends were falsely imprisoned by Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman. The men had asked the jury to award them more than $1.3 million in damages, claiming they were held illegally in inhumane conditions after the jail flooded.

A three-judge panel of the appellate court heard arguments in the case and took the matter under advisement. The judges did not indicate when they might rule.

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