Trial opens for claims over Katrina flood damage

GRETNA, La. (AP) - A trial for claims that a suburban New Orleans parish is liable for catastrophic flood damage during Hurricane Katrina has opened with dueling explanations for the decision to evacuate drainage pump operators as the 2005 storm neared landfall.

During opening statements Thursday, a Jefferson Parish attorney said officials carried out the parish's "Doomsday Plan" and evacuated more than 200 pump operators to save their lives.

But plaintiffs' lawyers countered that the parish needlessly exposed more than 40,000 homes and businesses to flooding by implementing a poorly formulated plan that few officials knew about before Katrina.

Jurors are expected to hear three weeks of testimony for the class-action litigation against the parish and its former parish president, Aaron Broussard.

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