More Uptown residents prepare for trial against Sewerage and Water Board

More Uptown residents prepare to for trial against Sewerage and Water Board

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A group of Uptown homeowners is taking the Sewerage and Water Board to court Monday (Oct. 15), claiming the SELA drainage project damaged their houses.

They’re Uptown residents who claim the Sewerage and Water Board’s SELA Drainage Project ruined their homes -- shaking them to their foundations, causing settlement and vibration damage that resulted in issues like cracks in walls and ceilings.

“The doors don’t shut properly. The cracks are just getting bigger and bigger,” Uptown resident Meghan Burns said.

Ann Couger, another Uptown resident, has a shockingly similar story.

“There have been some cracks in the walls, cracks in the kitchen counter tops, cracks in the floors," Couger said. “The wood floors have started to buckle a little bit. The windows don’t seal properly. The doors sometimes stick. There have been a lot of noticeable changes in the past few years.”

Attorney Michael Whitaker represents some of the 300 residents suing the S&WB for about $80 million worth of damage.

“There’s no question about the damage. There’s no question who did it. Contractually, the Sewerage and Water Board is at fault,” Whitaker said.

Already, a judge ruled in favor of five plaintiffs that went to trial. In March, they were awarded $200,000 apiece.

“The Sewerage and Water Board chose to file an appeal on that. There have been no settlement negotiations and we are, Monday, starting the second trial, the second group of 10 more homes,” Whitaker said.

Whitaker says the court divided the case into small groups to test the liability and damage questions arising in this case. While he was expecting to settle after the first win, the S&WB is showing no signs of backing down.

“We’ve heard crickets from the Sewerage and Water Board about resolving this,” said Whitaker.

However, Whitaker says they’re not going away and he is confident they’ll win again. He says residents will get the money they need to repair their homes.

“They’ve got to make a cost-benefit analysis at some point and sit down at the negotiating table with us or we’re going to continue doing what we’ve been doing and racking up judgements against them,” Whitaker explained.

FOX 8 News reached out to the Sewerage and Water Board but did not hear back. Representatives previously told us they won’t comment on pending litigation.

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