The Army Corps Of Engineers Is Taking Your Hurricane Katrina Lawsuits Seriously

WHO: The Army Corps Of Engineers
WHAT: The Army Corps Of Engineers has been sued 489,000 times over the damage from levees that broke during Hurricane Katrina. Of those 489,000 lawsuits, 247 of them are for at least 1 billion dollars, and one of them is for $3,014,170,389,176,410. ($3 quadrillion-ish.)
WHERE: Katrina’s victims ask for huge checks [Yahoo!]
THE QUOTE: “‘It’s important to the person who filed it, so we’re taking every single claim seriously,’ Corps spokeswoman Amanda Jones said.”

(Thanks, Andrew!)

Comments

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  1. homerjay says:

    Wow, even the gubmit takes claims seriously… Thats gotta be good for something.

  2. Trevor says:

    I’ll prolly come under a lot of flak for this, but while I feel for these people and how our government abandoned them- I personally feel like they’re not owed anything but what they lost in the disaster. I could never begin to understand the pain and suffering any of them went through, but the point is to make someone whole, to put them back (financially) where they were before this- NOT for them to benefit from it, just because someone lost say $100,000 they don’t deserve $300,000

  3. full.tang.halo says:

    In the words of Scott Adams, “The key is to ask for several billion,(or in this case quadrillion) more than you actually need, and even if you get 1/100th of it, thats an end to out of memory error messages forever…”

  4. darkened says:

    I don’t understand why the Army Corps of Engineers is being sued in the first place it’s the city of new Orleans or the Louisiana governments fault entirely. The corps told them they needed levees that could withstand category 4 or 5 (i can’t remember) but the government opted for ones that protected against category 3 because of the price. This wholly and entirely the governments fault for not paying for what the corps TOLD THEM THEY NEEDED. This appalls me that they are being sued.

  5. darkened says:

    @Trevor: I personally don’t think they’re owed anything except by their local government, this is irrelevant to the federal government. And for the people that didn’t have the correct insurances, well you’re shit out of luck. Maybe next time they’ll actually listen to their insurance agent instead of just treating them like they’re there to rob them of their money.

  6. Trevor says:

    @darkened: I couldn’t agree with you more

  7. Wormfather says:

    @darkened:

    That’s why I even have UFO insurance. Along with all the other standards. Panda bear takes residence in my den insurance. Airplane crashes into house, but only if it’s pilot error, etc.

  8. ekthesy says:

    @Wormfather:

    Careful, sometimes the panda is a pre-existing condition and you won’t know you’re not covered until it’s too late and all your bamboo furniture is gone.

  9. cnc1019 says:

    Crazy idea, don’t live below sea level near the coast. I honestly feel for the people, but we don’t cut other people slack when they move into a situation that they know has the possibility of turning bad (i.e. people who move near an airport and then bitch about the noise).

    Granted that isn’t exactly the same thing as there is no physical damabe to the airport guy/gal’s home, but the theory is the same.

  10. cnc1019 says:

    @cnc1019: damage…must remember to use spell check

  11. JustRunTheDamnBallBillick. says:

    And remember, this on top of the Billions in federal aid that has pored into the area since.

  12. GitEmSteveDave says:

    @cnc1019: I agree. If you live in a area where you can’t even bury your dead, because they will arise from the grave, then you should move.

    Now I am not up on my conspiracy theories, but I know I read or heard someone was blowing up the levees during Katrina, to flood out the residents. Maybe it was the Army Corp?

  13. GitEmSteveDave says:

    @cnc1019: Actually, if you build close to an airport, there could be damage to your house due to vibrations, falling luggage/dolls, and the occasional chunk of frozen lavatory goodies.

  14. tinmanx says:

    @darkened: We’re a sue happy nation. As the saying goes “sue everyone and let the courts sort ‘em out.” I’m surprised no one sued Mother Nature.

  15. Dibbler says:

    Government = The people

    So the “victims” are saying that the rest of us owe them money because they lived in an area that has a 99% chance of disaster if a Category 5 storm hit. That’s like me moving my bed to the middle of the freeway and if someone hits me while I’m sleeping I should get compensation.

  16. headon says:

    Knucklheads. They live below sea level and then bitch when there’s a flood. Can the gov’t sue them for stupid. Sue Mother Nature you’ll get the same result. Hey heres an idea buy a condo on the coast in Florida. Like on the 40th floor. That sounds real safe too.

  17. Mr. Gunn says:

    darkened: Because you can’t sue the Govt, and the Corps are the ones who did(didn’t do) the work.

    GitEmSteveDave: I suppose you’re saying that about the people in Indiana who got flooded when their levee broke, too? And the people who died in the huge snowstorm in the North? And the people in San Diego who build their houses on hills where the vegetation burns off every year?

    Seriously, that’s lame.

  18. Mr. Gunn says:

    Dibbler: Everywhere has disasters, but no one’s ever said this before about other places. Is it because the news shows poor black people losing their houses instead of rich San Diego white people?

    headon: Same goes for you, buddy. Katrina bashing is a sign of poor character or poor memory, or something altogether worse.

  19. MaliBoo Radley says:

    I’m dead sick of sue happy people. Whatever happened to pulling yourself up by your bootstraps and rebuilding your own life? These people are a bunch of babies waiting for a handout … argh. I wonder how many of them were on public assistance before the hurricane …

  20. MaliBoo Radley says:

    @Mr. Gunn:

    I would certainly say it to anyone who lives in an place the gets fucked up by the weather every year. If it’s predictable, why would you take the risk? It’s like living in Hawaii and suing the government because you have lava in your front yard.

    People need to have a little common sense.

  21. Zimorodok says:

    “$3,014,170,389,176,410! Doctor Evil, it’s 2008! That amount of money doesn’t even exist!”

  22. @Mr. Gunn: Isolated incidents are a disaster.

    But yes, if you build your home on a hill in a earthquake active area where the vegetation burns off EVERY year, then there’s something wrong with you. In NJ, where I live, we have idiots whose homes get flooded when certain rivers flood. I say idiots, because after each flood, they just rebuild in the same place.

  23. TeeDub says:

    What is the lawyers cut of 3 quadrillion?

  24. Recury says:

    I think this is one case where it is not totally stupid to announce that you are “taking it seriously”, especially since a common tactic nowadays for people being sued is to say publicly that lawsuits against them are “wholly without merit” (but that’s a whole other series of posts).

  25. @Mr. Gunn: I forgot to add the people who build their homes out in the middle of the woods, and then when a forest fire comes, they act surprised that a fire could affect them, and claim they weren’t prepared. A stitch in time saves nine. The people in CA who were watching the fire approach on tv, and didn’t have the common sense to have their stuff ready to evacuate, just in case, I feel NO pity for them. If my home were in a prone area, which it smartly isn’t, I would be prepared for that diaster. I do have adequate food and water(hurricane, power failure), fire and co detectors and located 50 feet from one hydrant and 100 from another(fire), and keep my trees trimmed as best I can(high winds, ice storm).

  26. headon says:

    @ Mr. Gunn: It must be something altogether worse because my character or memory has never been questioned. And save it, because it’s not a black/white thing or a rich/poor thing. It’s a smart/stupid thing. Don’t live in a flood zone then cry when it floods. Don’t live in an earthquake prone area and bitch when the ground shakes. Don’t live on a northwest hillside and moan when the avalanche covers all you cherish. Wake up and take some personal responsibility for the choices you make in life. For example where you decide to live!

  27. senor_tron says:

    I feel that any federal funds spent to rebuild should require a new geographic location for the city of New Orleans . . . otherwise let the city itself shoulder the financial burden. That said, let’s not insult the people of New Orleans or diminish their status as victims. I can see how a person can be oblivious to geographic/natural peril while surrounded by a large and established infrastructure. The real issue in my mind is that a nostalgic need to preserve a historical city seems to be winning the battle over common sense.

  28. Mr. Gunn says:

    headon: Where would you propose everyone live that isn’t prone to any natural disasters? Even the plains of Kansas gets tornados more than other places, so according to your argument, even those people should just suck it up when their house gets blown away.

    What about living in a big city? That makes you more prone to crime. Should those people just suck it up when they’re robbed?

    Humans are capable of compassion for a reason. It’s a survival advantage, because if we didn’t care for anyone outside our tribe, we’d not do nearly so well as a species, even considering the people who take advantage of things.

  29. headon says:

    @Mr. Gunn: Read Radlays comment above. And yes suck it up. It’s not an argument it’s a fact. Live below sea level don’t bitch when your font lawn is littered with sea creatures.

  30. zibby says:

    All this reminds me of my great grandfather’s two primary rules of purchasing real estate: 1) Always buy on the high ground; if there’s no high ground, don’t buy. 2) Never buy on the dump road.

    That first one at least saved us a lot of trouble.

  31. cristiana says:

    According to this page [www.cia.gov] the Gross World Product in 2006 was $46.77 trillion. The over three quadrillion dollar lawsuit is 45.69 times that. The person or people who brought that suit do not in any way deserve more than 45 times the purchasing power of the entire planet

  32. Anonymous says:

    @Mr. Gunn: The rich white people in San Diego didn’t really lose their homes… they had insurance.

    They didn’t get stranded with nowhere to go… they had cars.

    They didn’t starve because they couldn’t afford food… they had savings accounts and other liquid assets.

    Also, and this is a big point, the sheer volume of people affected in Louisiana, and surrounding areas, dwarfs that of the CA fires last year by a couple factors of 10.

  33. ancientsociety says:

    @Mr. Gunn: It has nothing to do with living someplace that has the OCCASIONAL disaster, but CHOOSING to live in an area that has a disaster year after year (wildfires, earthquake zones, etc) or is subject to catastrophic failure (areas below sea level, coastal cliffs, oceanfront homes less than 50ft from the water, etc.)

    And it’s one thing to build below sea level sparsely populated areas (like farms in the European Low Countries) and quite another to build a densely populated area there (NOLA)

  34. dandyrandy says:

    “…247 of them are for at least $1 billion dollars…”

    Using a dollar sign and the word ‘dollars’ together is redundant.

    It’s also redundant.

  35. darkened says:

    @Mr. Gunn:

    darkened: Because you can’t sue the Govt, and the Corps are the ones who did(didn’t do) the work.

    They did the work they were paid to do, the very work they strongly advised against in the first place. It is the local governments fault for not paying for the work they were advised to the entire time. And jointly the fault of the people living below sea level next to the coast line.

    And the quip about UFO insurance, you must take into account of probability you will need it. Car insurance? I’d bet 100% chance in life you will need it at some point, UFO insurance? probably not. Flood/Hurricane/Water Damage insurance in Utah? probably not, the same insurance in new Orleans? You’re a fool to not have it.

  36. Nemesis_Enforcer says:

    @Mr. Gunn: When I lived in Wichita we had Tornado/highwind as part of our insurance. IF you live where a natural disaster has a high probability of occuring and you don’t have insurance for it than well..your dumb. Unless they couldn’t afford it they should have known the risks.

  37. Sudonum says:

    @darkened:
    First the City and State governments of New Orleans and Louisiana didn’t tell the Corp to build shit. The Corp told Congress what was needed, Congress provided the funds to build something lesser, and the Corp proceeded to screw even that up.

    The levees were supposed to be X (10,12,or 15,depending on location) number of feet above sea level. The Corp used topography maps that were 50 years old to determine that height. The maps were wrong. In some instances the levees were several feet shorter than they should have been. And constructed poorly. [www.usace.army.mil]

    Also, one of the many misconceptions regarding Katrian was that NOLA was hit with a CAT 5 storm. The winds that New Orleans faced were no stronger than CAT 3, What the levees were supposed to withstand. [www.katrina.noaa.gov]

    As to these people “Suing” the Federal Government, read this article in the New Orleans Time Picayune [www.nola.com]
    It gives a little back ground to the claims and the process.

    And lastly, while I was a resident of the greater NOLA area during the time of Katrina, My family evacuated, my house flooded and we were made whole by our insurance coverage. That doesn’t make going through it any easier. That being said, I am not defending these peoples actions in any way. However, all of us, as the taxpayers that ultimately footed the bill, not only for the relief efforts, but the construction of the levees itself, should be demanding answers from the Corp. Also, if you live in an area protected by levees built by the Corp. Make sure they have been built correctly, to the correct height, with the correct materials. This can happen anywhere in the US that is in a flood zone.

  38. Onouris says:

    Makes you wonder whether everyone who brings up lawsuits just pulls numbers out of their asses like that person did.

    Absolutely taking the piss.

  39. ObtuseGoose says:

    Ok, who the hell added the $410 to the $3,014,170,389,176,000 lawsuit?! That just smacks of greed.

  40. forever_knight says:

    this seems to boil down to a few points:

    1. people lived in a place prone to a disaster.
    2. people living in this place did not always buy insurance against this potential disaster (hurricane and flood).
    3. people are now upset at what they did or didn’t do.

    i have little sympathy people that fit into the above points. it’s different if they have to fight their insurance carrier even though they have the correct insurance.

    master planning should go into effect in situations like this — and in the crazy wildfire situation. meaning as a community, we should not allow people to build homes in places that are dangerous. if some rich idiot in california wants to live in the middle of nowhere, on a hill surrounded by brush, that’s fine. however, we aren’t going to spend millions to protect your home. it’s just no worth the risk of peoples lives and the cost to do so.

  41. waydownriver says:

    @sudonum:
    exactly

    Too much of the standard blame-the-victim Consumerist blather here.

    As has been said: not too many Americans live in an area not prone to natural and other disasters, even if they don’t know it. The entire south and east coast from Mexico around Florida to Canada is a hurricane zone. Half the midwest is a tornado zone. California? Arizona? Deserts. Is it my fault if I die in a bombing because I live in NYC and a terrorist strike is more likely here.

    The New Orleans city government is a corrupt, incompetent banana republic. But that hardly erases the corruption and incompetence of countless governments–local, state, and federal. (Um, remember Iraq?) Citizens don’t deserve their bad fortune because of the abuses of elected officials.

    Before you blame, ask yourself what you’ve done lately to reduce the corruption surrounding you? From what I’ve seen of most Consumerist posts, very little, because too many readers are busy eating fast food and watching TV.

  42. darkened says:

    @waydownriver: By supporting, donating and campaigning for Ron Paul.

  43. Wally East says:

    @headon: Are you really saying that we should pack up Miami, SF, Houston, LA, Seattle, San Diego, Tacoma, and NYC? If everyone were “smart,” that’s what would happen, right?

  44. ClutchDude says:

    What I would like to know is who people on the MS coast and LA coast are suing. I know home insurance companies are taking a beating, but those folk are not suing for um…..46 times the planet. Either way, do not build where a big hurricane has a decent chance of occurring in your life time and then wonder why it hit. But then again, maybe they couldn’t afford any of such things. Ah well.

  45. hwyengr says:

    @darkened: Um, the city and state don’t pay for, or own the levees. The levees are federally owned, operated, and maintained by the Corp. The city has no stake in their design, construction, or implementation.

    The Corp wanted to increase the strength of the levees, but was rejected in Washington, where the funding comes from. The Corp has jurisdiction over every navigable waterway in the United States.

    Not to say that the Corp is responsible. They wanted to do better. But, the gov’t was just spending the money on other things, I guess.

  46. headon says:

    @RNKONEIL: Nope thats not what I’m saying, I’m saying if you chose to live in one of those places. Which by the way I do. Than buy the appropiate insurance and expect that you WILL use it. But don’t bitch when the anticipated happens. Cmon you really did not need me to explain that did you? There there I thought not.

  47. Eager2 says:

    You people should inform yourselves a bit more about New Orleans before you wax expert about it. The entire city is not below sea level. New Orleans was founded in 1718 by the French, who settled on the naturally high ground near the Mississippi River. Growth continued upriver, also on high ground, fueled by “Americans” moving into the city after the Purchase. Actually, there are only two major areas that were built on drained land, the 9th Ward and Lakeview. These areas were developed in the 20th century. It was levee building in the early part of the last century that allowed these neighborhoods to be habitable, because they were otherwise prone to flooding. I don’t believe these areas should be redeveloped, but I certainly think these people were tricked by their government, 80 or so years ago, into thinking they were moving into safe areas. Don’t punish them because they should have “known better.” Don’t give into greed, but these people trusted our levees, and should be compensated because they failed. Also, please understand that many New Orleanians have roots in the city that go back hundreds of years. For them, it’s not a question of “live where it’s safe” it’s a question of, should I leave the place that my ancestors built. Don’t assume that it’s as easy to leave New Orleans as it is to leave Scottsdale Arizona. It’s not.

  48. bkpatt says:

    Wow, I had no idea so many engineers, geologists, lawyers, and policy analysts frequented Consumerist all day, this is pretty impressive. /sarcasm off

    As to the people having insurance – a vast majority of these lawsuits are over semantics of their policies, not that they didn’t have any (was your house destroyed by the hurricane? Well, we don’t think so, it really sank into the ground, because the ground was too wet, because the ground was covered in water, pushed 10 miles inland, by some pretty strong winds, but those were not hurricane winds by then, they were just a tropical storm, and you don’t have tropical storm insurance, only hurricane insurance.) It doesn’t matter it was a HURRICANE that caused the storm that caused the flood that caused the water that caused the sinking house syndrome, you didn’t have sinking house in a tropical storm insurance.

    The whole business of insurance is based on quantities – have a lot of people paying premiums, and pay claims on a few – make money. Simple, right? Except when all of a sudden you have a HUGE brunt of claims, all in one shot, and you lose a lot of people that have been paying those premiums because, well, they don’t have the houses those premiums cover anymore. Suddenly, the numbers aren’t balancing all that well, and the companies need to slow down the paying while the premiums catch up. What to do? Deny! Deny! Deny!

    There will be a few exceptions of people getting royally screwed, and they should full well sue the dickens out of the insurance companies. A lot though will be taken care of in time, and yes it sucks, but no they do not get a free pass to an early retirement on taxpayers backs just because they had tragedy strike.

    I agree on the numbers game, suing for 10 million might net you the $150,000 value of your house in the end plus some legal fees. In the end it buys the insurance company a ton of time at a very low interest rate.

    489,000 lawsuits against the Corp… wow, I can’t even imagine being their legal department.

  49. canerican says:

    Ugh. And who controlled the city of New Orleans and Louisiana at the time of the hurricanes? Which party?
    Its funny, other states get hit with tornadoes, floods, and hurricanes… the don’t whine about it for FOUR FREAKING YEARS. Whiners of New Orleans, STFU, you have already cost our government too much, the goal of “rebuilding funds” isn’t to profit people too stupid or lazy to get insurance, its to restore the city to the hellhole it was before the hurricane.

  50. SexierThanJesus says:

    @radleyas: I’d like to see you say that face-to-face to one of the “babies” from NO who lost all their property and a relative in the storm. You’re very brave from behind your keyboard.

    @GitEmSteveDave: I live in NJ. What rivers are you talking about that flood that high?

    @headon: I’m sure everyone who lived in tin shacks in n’awlins will take your financial advice very seriously in the future.

    @canerican: Seriously…just cancel your internet service. Corruption is corruption, no matter the political party. A shady Democrat deserves just as much derision as a shady Republican, Libertarian, Green, whatever.

    And you’re calling people from NO whiners? Other states didn’t get hit with the deadliest natural disaster our generation has seen. Keep thumping those good old “Conservative Values”, then dump on your fellow man when they need you. Please dump your computer into the water and forget you ever owned it. Ass.

  51. Sudonum says:

    @canerican:
    What does the construction of the levees have to do with which party was in power at the state and local levels when the storm hit? And it was a little over 2 years ago not four. Also check out this story about the federal response (or lack of it) to Hurricane Andrew in 1992 [www.sptimes.com] People in Florida are still “whining” about it 10 years later.

    How about this quote from the same website “‘Even three or four years after the storm we still had people living in trailers behind their homes, living in sheds, living in half a home,’ Behnken said.”
    Are they “whiners” too? [www.sptimes.com]

    Jesus people, Katrina and Andrew happened to ALL OF US, not just the people in the actual path of the storm. The same thing could happen to you be it wild fires, mud slides, floods, tornados or terrorist attack. Speaking of terrorist attack there’s still a guy “whining” about 9/11, he’s running for President.

  52. SexierThanJesus says:

    @Dibbler: So I guess we can say the same about everyone who died in the WTC? After all, it had been attacked before, they knew what they were getting into, right?

    Thought not.

  53. rdm24 says:

    @Trevor:
    You won’t get any flak from me on this.

  54. zolielo says:

    Reimbursement not entitlement.

  55. azntg says:

    Hey guys! Hello from St. Bernard Parish, the adjacent parish to New Orleans. It’s quite different from New York City and I’m loving it down here!

    I’ve had an opportunity to personally visit and tour the eastern parts of New Orleans (NOE and the Ninth Ward) and St. Bernard Parish, which suffered the most extensive damage from Hurricane Katrina and Rita with some professors from Tulane.

    Here’s the thing. Hurricane Katrina was a Category 5 hurricane I believe. But, the hurricane did not hit the New Orleans directly. As a matter of fact, there seems to be a general consensus around here that the force was Category 1 or Category 2 tops.

    It was quite expected that the water from the Industrial Canal, Lake Pontchatrain and the Missisippi would back up and flow over the levees. But, given the severity of the situation, it was not expected to give way. At some parts of the Lower Ninth, along with other neighborhoods, entire houses were swept away from the foundation as a result of the water coming in after the levees broke.

    Since the Army Corps of Engineers engineered and built those levees, they do share some responsibility in this problem. The Federal government has been pouring money into NOLA and surrounding parishes, but many homeowners haven’t seen the money come into their hands.

    In the houses that I’m helping to construct, the homeowners have been paying for reconstruction with their own pockets and is getting in heavy debt as a result. Cost of materials, labor, etc. is extremely high. So, if there are any surprises that there are huge gaps between houses, abandoned houses and people clamoring to sue the Army Corps of Engineers, there shouldn’t be any surprise.

    I invite you all to come down here and eyewitness it for yourself. I did, I came over from New York. Don’t kid yourself and stick to the French Quarter. Come on out to the Ninth Ward or over onto St. Bernard Parish. Take a good look and talk to people. At the minimum, you’ll drop your stance on blaming the victims.