Army Corps of Engineers Ruled Not Liable for Katrina Damage

The unlikely decision will affect more than 400 property owners who filed lawsuits against the government seeking compensation.

Posted: 09/25/2012 11:39 AM EDT
Army Corps of Engineers Ruled Not Liable for Katrina Damage

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers can no longer be held responsible for the extreme flooding caused by Hurricane Katrina after an appeals court overturned a previous decision finding the Corps partially liable.

On Monday, a three-judge panel of the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Corps could not be held liable for the billions of dollars in damage caused by the flooding because of a provision that protects a government agency when sued for its actions or inaction. The panel was composed of the same three judges that upheld the ruling in March on an initial appeal.

“I’m baffled how they got to where they reversed their original conclusion,” Joseph Bruno, an attorney representing the plaintiffs said, according to the Times-Picayune. “It’s a real stretch to give (the corps) more immunity.”

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the Corps was accused of making gross errors in its evaluation and maintenance of critical levees that failed during the storm.

In 2009, a court ruled that the Corps committed "monumental negligence" in its handling of the levees that led to the flooding that devastated much of New Orleans and claimed the lives of thousands. The historic ruling was the first time the government was held responsible for flooding during Hurricane Katrina, and its reversal will affect the more than 400 property owners who filed lawsuits.

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(Photo: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

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