Lawyers have filed a class-action lawsuit against the New Orleans Sewerage & Water Board for damage caused by last year's Aug. 5 flood.
The suit, filed in Civil District Court last week, alleges the S&WB failed to properly maintain its drainage system or to provide adequate notice to residents about the many problems with the system.
The suit seeks compensation for damage caused by the flood to vehicles, buildings and other property throughout Mid-City, Treme and other areas of the city.
New Orleans officials long failed to respond to the growing threat posed by a broken drainage system, and that neglect contributed to the seve…
"This flood was a big deal. People were not forewarned about this flood; no signal went out," attorney Michael Whitaker said. "This substantially impacted their lives."
S&WB officials declined to discuss the suit, citing a policy against commenting on pending litigation.
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The attorneys who filed the suit are with Bruno & Bruno and the Whitaker Firm, the same two firms representing hundreds of Uptown plaintiffs suing the S&WB over damage their homes sustained during work on the massive Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project.
The new suit outlines the many problems with the drainage system that have been revealed over the past year, including pumps that were out of service on Aug. 5, electrical turbines that broke down and limited the S&WB's ability to power its equipment, and staffing shortages.
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All of those, combined with repeated false assurances from the top S&WB officials at the time that everything was working as intended, amount to negligence on the part of the public utility, according to the suit.
"At the time this flood happened, the situation and readiness of these pumps was disgraceful," Whitaker said. "That the management at the time misrepresented their readiness was even worse."
Whitaker said many of the claims made in the suit were validated in a draft version of a "root cause analysis" of the flood commissioned by former Mayor Mitch Landrieu. That report was released to The New Orleans Advocate last week in response to a public-records request.
However, Whitaker said it still could be difficult to prove the S&WB is legally on the hook for damage from the flood.
"I think it is fair to say it will likely be a difficult lawsuit," he said. "But it needs to be done for these people who were affected."
The Sewerage & Water Board has shored up its drainage pumps and turbines, but it continues to grapple with many internal challenges, accor…