Jury selection begins in Jefferson Parish pump lawsuit _lowres

Advocate staff file photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- Former Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard.

Jury selection began Monday on the class action lawsuit against Jefferson Parish and its former president, Aaron Broussard, with three possible jurors out of a couple dozen people saying they think they would find it difficult, if not impossible, to be impartial.

The plaintiffs, led by insurer Chicago Property Interests Inc., allege that Broussard’s decision to evacuate parish pump stations of the 220 operators caused much of the flooding that damaged thousands of homes on both banks of the parish.

The defense has asked Judge John Peytavin to move the trial to another judicial district, arguing it will be impossible to seat an impartial jury in Jefferson Parish because so many people either flooded or know someone who did.

During the first phase of jury selection on Monday, plaintiffs’ attorneys interviewed about two dozen potential jurors; two said their experience with flood damage and preconceived notions about the case would affect them, while another said his involvement in previous class action suits against Broussard and former Kenner Mayor and Jefferson Parish Councilman Louis Congemi, who is on the witness list, would do the same.

Jury selection is expected to last about three days, and the trial promises to go on for three or four weeks.

About a dozen potential jurors expressed reservations about whether they will be able to be available for the duration of the trial.

Jury selection is on break for lunch and will resume Monday afternoon.