[JURIST] Judge Stanwood R. Duval Jr. [official profile] of the US Eastern District of Louisiana ruled again Friday that the US Army Corps of Engineers [official website] cannot claim immunity from suit in connection with damages suffered by plaintiffs by virtue of alleged defects in the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet (MRGO) [USACE backgrounder]. Duval said that the outlet was a shipping channel and not a flood control outlet in connection with which the Corps would have been properly immune in tort. He rejected the Corps' argument that the MRGO was nonetheless part of a larger flood control system in the New Orleans area. AP has more.
Duval made a similar ruling [JURIST report] in February 2007 in the context of an earlier motion to dismiss. 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].