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Authors: Bruno, Jospeh M.
Meyer, Daniel A.
Keywords: hurricane Katrina
insurance litigation
Issue Date: 2016
Publisher: Loyola University New Orleans College of Law
Citation: 62 Loy. L. Rev. 1
Abstract: Not every home in New Orleans flooded after Hurricane Katrina. Many did not. Some who stayed dry digested the enormity of the loss through high-definition televisions powered by whole-home generators. Others took the opportunity to take a month’s vacation. Many of those left standing felt a tremendous sense of duty to assist their fellow citizens in need. In that number were lawyers who, understanding the scale of the suffering and economic loss, did what lawyers do: they set about the business of determining what legal remedies were available to the victims. We revisit these events ten years later principally due to the scale of the devastation. Hurricane Katrina directly caused or contributed to approximately 1,800 deaths. The storm affected 90,000 square miles of land. Aggregate property damage estimates range from $108 billion to $150 billion. At the time, Hurricane Katrina was, by a factor of five to six, the costliest hurricane in U.S. history. Despite the storm’s overwhelming strength, Hurricane Katrina victims would soon learn of the man- made causes of the flooding of New Orleans. At first, victims attempted to recover under their “all-risk” policies, only to learn that man-made flooding was excluded from coverage. Then, they sought to hold the organizations responsible for the faulty levee system liable, but these entities claimed various immunities that ultimately protected them from liability. This Article reviews specific litigation efforts undertaken on behalf of the damaged citizens of greater New Orleans. Section I addresses insurance exclusions applied against damaged property owners. Section II reviews third-party fault for Hurricane Katrina-related floods, including fault of the United States of America. Sections III and IV discuss the immunities from liability asserted by the federal government and its contractors. Throughout, this Article recounts how, for a brief moment, the citizens of greater New Orleans stood toe-to-toe with the federal government and its contractors in a David-versus-Goliath civil action and won.
ISSN: 0192-9720
Appears in Collections:Law Review

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