Jump to Navigation
Jump to Content

St. Bernard Parish Government v. United States

ELR Citation: 45 ELR 20084
Nos. 05-1119, (Fed. Cl., 05/01/2015)

The Federal Claims Court held that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' construction, expansions, operation, and failure to maintain the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet (MR-GO) caused subsequent storm surge that was exacerbated by a "funnel effect" during Hurricane Katrina and subsequent hurricanes and severe storms, leading to flooding on property owners' land that effected a temporary taking under the Fifth Amendment. The property owners held protectable property interests recognized under Louisiana law and had reasonable investment-backed expectations. In addition, the property owners demonstrated that it was foreseeable to the Corps that their actions and inactions would substantially increase storm surge during hurricanes and other severe storms, and cause flooding due to increased salinity, habitat and wetland loss, erosion, storm surge, and MR-GO's "funnel effect." They also established that their injuries from the flooding were substantial and severe. Conversely, the government's arguments were not supported by the law or the record: flooding did not occur on just a single occasion, but instead was inevitably recurring; Hurricane Katrina was not an intervening event that broke the chain of causation; and subsidence, sea-level rise, and land loss were not the cause of the flooding. Nor did post-Katrina remedial and restoration efforts negate the Corps' liability for a temporary taking. And the property owners' claims were not barred by the statute of limitations.