FOX 8 Defenders: Levee breach class action settlement update

FOX 8 Defenders: Levee breach class action settlement update


The FOX 8 Defenders learn it could be several months before thousands of Katrina victims involved in a class action settlement actually receive money. 

"We have a set amount of money, and we can't divide the money until we verify who the participants are, and we're whittling that down," said Joe Bruno.  Bruno is the lead plaintiff's attorney in the class action lawsuit alleging failures and over-topping of levees against the Army Corps of Engineers, contractors and levee boards after Hurricane Katrina. 
"We named everybody who we thought feasibly could be liable for the failure of the levees at 17th Street, Industrial Canal, and all of the breaks.. New Orleans East, Lower Nine, St. Bernard and the like," explained Bruno. 

It resulted in a settlement by only the insurance companies for three levee boards.  Bruno says there's roughly $11 million waiting to go out to the people, and 137,000 claim forms were filed.  "The problem is that there are about 20,000 claims that are problems.  We can't verify their social security numbers.  A lot of the claims it turns out are duplicates were filed more than once perhaps intentionally, perhaps not," said Bruno. 

According to Bruno, the court has appointed a special master to obtain experts to verify the thousands of claims that have issues.  Bruno says experts overseeing the process have a very sophisticated system that shows every house that flooded, how much water they got and even square footage.

Once the experts do complete the process, Bruno stresses, it won't be a lot of money, maybe $50 to $100 a person, and it could be several months before money is disbursed.

Bruno says attorneys were not paid fees in this class action settlement, but were reimbursed for the costs of litigation.  That amount he says was capped at $3.5 million.

If you've got a consumer concern, call the FOX 8 Defenders staffed with volunteers from the National Council of Jewish Women at 1-877-670-6397 or fill out an online complaint form. 

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