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Court Dismisses Damage Suits Against Katrina Dredging Firms

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The federal appeals court in New Orleans on Nov. 25 dismissed class-action lawsuits for Hurricane Katrina-related damages against 32 major dredging contractors. Two groups of plaintiffs sued companies that worked under federal contracts in the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet (MRGO), claiming that work damaged protected wetlands and caused an amplification of the storm surge in the New Orleans region during the 2005 hurricane. The 5th U.S. Court of Appeal Circuit in Ackerson v. Bean Dredging LLC, upholding a federal district court’s ruling, applied the principal that public-works contractors duly carrying out projects authorized by Congress have immunity from lawsuits for damages resulting from those projects, and dismissed the lawsuit. The ruling came a week after a federal district court ruling held the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers liable for Katrina floods caused by levee failures along MRGO.

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