The firm that built a more than 3-mile section of a concrete Interstate 12 median barrier from Juban Crossing to La. 447 in Walker claims it is not legally responsible for the August flooding that swamped that area of Livingston Parish.
A January lawsuit filed in Baton Rouge state court, and later moved to federal court in Baton Rouge, alleges the I-12 barrier stretching 19 miles east from Baton Rouge effectively created a dam that restricted the flow of water during the flood.
The cities of Denham Springs and Walker and others filed a class-action lawsuit against the …
Barriere Construction Co., in recent court filings, contends it cannot be held liable for the damage suffered by flood victims.
Barriere, under a 2011 bid-build contract with the state Department of Transportation and Development, says is constructed a 3.35-mile barrier between the eastbound and westbound I-12 lanes from La. 1026 at Juban Crossing to Highway 447.
Barriere said it did so in conformity with the plans and specifications provided by DOTD. Barriere did not design the barrier. The work was completed in 2014 and accepted by DOTD.
"Barriere had no justifiable reason to believe that its adherence to the plans and specifications created a hazardous condition ..." the company's Gretna attorneys, Gregory Gremillion, Thomas Darling and Glenn Burns, argue in a federal court filing.
They note that Watson and Livingston received an astounding 31.4 inches and 25.5 inches of rain, respectively, during the August flood event -- which they say has been characterized as a "1,000 year flood."
Barriere did not and was not called upon to conduct hydrology testing to determine the effects of the barrier, the company's attorneys note, and the firm was not contacted by anyone who expressed concerns about the barrier.
"Barriere had absolutely no reason to believe that there was any problem with their construction of this roadway and the barrier," the lawyers argue.
Barriere is asking that it be dismissed from the suit, which also names the state, DOTD and about 20 other companies as defendants. The cities of Walker and Denham Springs, and others, filed the suit. Livingston Parish later joined it.
The Livingston Parish Council voted Thursday to join a class-action lawsuit against the stat…
The state has yet to file its answer to the suit.
U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt, a New Orleans-based federal judge, is now presiding over the case after U.S. District Judge Brian Jackson, who is the chief federal judge in Baton Rouge, recused himself. One of Jackson's colleagues in Baton Rouge, U.S. District Judge James Brady, exercised his prerogative as a senior judge and declined to preside over the case.
It will remain in Baton Rouge.
Jackson is presiding over a related suit, filed in federal court in March, that claims a 1.2-mile long dirt embankment built along I-12 near Robert created a dam that caused severe and repeated flooding, in 1983, and in March and August of last year in Tangipahoa Parish.
The state and its Department of Transportation and Development were hit Friday with a second…
The state and its DOTD also are defendants in that suit, which says damages topped $100 million and affected more than 6,000 people. No answers to the suit have been filed to date.
DOTD has said it does not comment on pending litigation.