This just in: Federal district court judge Stanwood Duval Jr. has awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars to Katrina victims, payable by the U.S. Government because of the negligence of the Army Corps of Engineers.
The government — the same government, by the way, that awarded billions of dollars to the surviving family members of those killed by the September 11 attacks — had tried to stand on immunity for flood-control-related projects, but the court didn’t buy it. The Mississippi River Gulf Outlet (“MR.GO,” to locals) is a shipping channel — not a flood control project — that created a shortcut from New Orleans to the Gulf of Mexico. Now seen as ill-advised, it was also, according to Duval, dismally maintained:
“It is the court’s opinion that the negligence of the Corps, in this instance by failing to maintain the MRGO properly, was not policy, but insouciance, myopia and short-sightedness.”
Unless the decision is reversed on appeal, expect many thousands of displaced and injured Katrina victims to get in line for recovery. As I’ll explain in a fuller post tomorrow, they have a strong case.