TortsProf Blog

Editor: Christopher J. Robinette
Southwestern Law School

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

AALS "Hot Topics" to Include Katrina Session

On the Friday of the AALS Conference, at least one of the "Hot Topics" sessions will be of interest to torts profs:

         10:30 am-12:15 pm

Napoleon Ballroom, 3rd floor, Hilton New Orleans Riverside
The Katrina Litigation: On the Front Edge of Civil, Constitutional and Environmental Law

Oliver A. Houck, Tulane University School of Law
Joseph M. Bruno, Jr., Esquire, The Law Offices of Bruno & Bruno, New Orleans, Louisiana
William Burns, Senior Fellow for International Law, Santa Clara University School of Law
Carlos A. Zelaya, II, Esquire, F. Gerald Maples, P.A., New Orleans, Louisiana

This session focuses on three recent precedent-setting cases arising from Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast Region.  Each carries significant implications for tort, constitutional and environmental law. The first, In Re. Katrina Canal Breaches Consolidated Litigation (Robinson), 647 F. Supp. 2d 644 (E.D. La. 2009), holds the Army Corps of Engineers liable for negligence under the Federal Tort Claims Act for damages from the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet project, swamped by Katrina, on the basis of, inter alia, violations of the National Environmental Policy Act. The second, St. Bernard Parish v United States, 88 Fed. Cl. 528 (Fed. Cl. 2009), alleges Katrina damages from the same project as takings requiring compensation under the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution. The last is Comer v Murphy Oil, 583 F 3d 885 (5th Cir. 2009), en banc pet'n pending, finds a cause of action against oil companies for their contribution to climate change, leading to Katrina damages along the  Mississippi Gulf Coast. Each of these theories has obvious legal, economic and political consequences. 


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