Trial over Katrina floodwall breaches ends

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - A federal trial has concluded for homeowners' claims that excavation work by an Army Corps of Engineers contractor caused New Orleans floodwalls to breach in two places during Hurricane Katrina.

U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval Jr. heard three weeks of testimony without a jury before the trial ended Wednesday. Attorneys on each side of the case are expected to submit post-trial briefs before Duval rules, possibly early next year.

Several homeowners sued the federal government and corps' contractor Washington Group International Inc. over flood damage to their property. The plaintiffs claim the company's excavation work weakened floodwalls meant to protect New Orleans' Lower 9th Ward and neighboring St. Bernard Parish.

The corps claims water from the 2005 storm's rain and surge overtopped and overwhelmed the floodwalls.

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