[JURIST] A federal judge ruled [PDF text] Friday that the US Army Corps of Engineers [official website] can be sued by victims of Hurricane Katrina [JURIST news archive] flood damage who allege the Corps ignored warnings that the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet (MRGO) [Wikipedia backgrounder] contained defects that exacerbated the flooding. In his opinion denying the Corps' motion to dismiss, Judge Stanwood R. Duval Jr. [official profile] of the US Eastern District of Louisiana [official website; Katrina canal breach materials] said he would allow the suit to continue because it wasn't clear that the government had immunity, which it would have if the MRGO were a flood control project, but it may not if it were a "navigable waterway."
Three months before Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, an expert at the LSU Hurricane Center [official website] predicted that the MRGO could amplify storm surges by 20-40 percent. After Katrina, the center determined through computer modeling that the presence of the MRGO also increased the speed of the surge, causing an even greater detrimental effect [Washington Post report]. AP has more.