NEW ORLEANS, April 15, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- A notification program began today as ordered by Judge Ivan L.R. Lemelle of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana to alert those affected by flooding resulting from Hurricane Katrina and/or Hurricane Rita about a proposed partial class action settlement. A previous version of the settlement was proposed in 2008. The revised settlement now includes a claims process and a plan for how payments will be calculated.
The Settling Defendants are: the Orleans Levee District, the Board of Commissioners of the Orleans Levee District, the Lake Borgne Basin Levee District, the Board of Commissioners of the Lake Borgne Basin Levee District, the East Jefferson Levee District, the Board of Commissioners of the East Jefferson Levee District and their insurance company. The Released Parties include the Settling Defendants, as well as the Board of Commissioners of the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East, the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East, their insurers and all related people.
The lawsuit alleges levees and other flood and water control structures failed and/or were overtopped as a result of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita because they were not properly designed, inspected, or maintained, and that this failure caused property damage, personal injury and other losses. The Settling Defendants say that the levees failed for reasons beyond their control and that they did not do anything wrong.
The Settlement Class includes individuals, businesses and other entities who: (a) at the time of Hurricane Katrina and/or Rita: (1) were located, present or residing in the Parishes of Jefferson, Orleans and St. Bernard, Louisiana, or (2) owned, leased, possessed, used or had an interest in homes, places of business or other property in these parishes; and (b) had any losses, damages, and/or injuries in any manner related to, or in any manner connected with Hurricane Katrina and/or Rita and any alleged levee failures and/or waters that originated from, over, under or through the levees under the authority or control of the levee district defendants.
Three settlement funds totaling $20,208,957.20 as of November 30, 2012, have been established. This amount is the total insurance money available to the three levee district defendants plus interest. After fees, costs, expenses and Class Representative awards are paid, remaining settlement funds will be paid to eligible claimants.
A Special Master appointed by the Court has recommended a Limited Fund Distribution Model (the "Distribution Model") to calculate how available funds will be paid to people and businesses who submit valid claims.
Under the Distribution Model, payments are to be issued for the following types of claims:
1. Property Damage (residential)
2. Contents Damage (residential)
3. Other Individual Claims
a. Resident Claims
b. Non-Resident Claims
c. Visitor Claims
4. Death Claims
a. Survival Claims
b. Wrongful Death Claims
1. Property Damage (commercial)
2. Contents (commercial)
3. Loss of Business Income
A Detailed Notice, available at www.LeveeBreachClass.com, has more information about these claim types and estimated payment amounts.
Claim forms are not available at this time and will become available only after, and if, the Court approves the settlement. Settlement Class members may request a claim form by visiting www.LeveeBreachClass.com or writing to: Levee Breach Settlement, PO Box 5053, Portland, OR 97208.
Notices informing Settlement Class members about their legal rights will be mailed, and are scheduled to appear in local newspapers leading up to a hearing on September 23, 2013, when the Court will consider whether to approve the settlement including the Distribution Model and attorney fees, costs and expenses and awards to the Class Representatives up to a maximum Common Benefit Cap of $3.5 million.
The Court has appointed the following lawyers to represent the Settlement Class as "Class Counsel."
Levee-Plaintiff Subgroup: Daniel E. Becnel, Jr., Joseph M. Bruno (Liaison Counsel), Walter Dumas, Blayne Honeycutt, Darleen Jacobs, Hugh Lambert, and Gerald E. Meunier (Liaison Counsel)
MRGO-Plaintiff Subgroup: Jonathan Beauregard Andry, Joseph M. Bruno (Liaison Counsel), Clay Mitchell and James P. Roy (Liaison Counsel)
Those affected by the settlement cannot exclude themselves from the settlement, but they can object to the settlement or any part of it including the Distribution Model and Common Benefit Cap. Settlement Class members may also ask to speak at the hearing. August 1, 2013 is the deadline to object or ask to speak at the hearing.
A website, www.LeveeBreachClass.com, has been established for this case (called Vodanovich v. Boh Brothers Construction Co., LLC, No. 05-4191), where notices, the settlement agreement, the Distribution Model and the Court's preliminary approval order may be obtained. Those affected may also write to Levee Breach Settlement, PO Box 5053, Portland, OR 97208 for more information.
SOURCE United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana