Louisiana Flood Victims More Than $300 Million Sue State

BATON ROUGE (AP) — A group of Louisiana flood victims who have been owed over $300 million for the past decade have filed a lawsuit against the state for failure to pay.

The Advocate reports that Tangipahoa Parish home and small business owners who flooded in 1983 filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Baton Rouge on Thursday.

The state has violated constitutional protections of equal treatment by not paying the money, Byard Edwards, a lawyer who has represented the flood victims, said.

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“We understand money is available,” Eric R. Nowak, a New Orleans lawyer handling the lawsuit, said, “But at some point, they need to take some responsibility.”

The latest lawsuit comes after residents won a lawsuit in 2003 which found the construction of a local highway blocked drainage of the Tangipahoa River. The court ruled the state failed to conduct needed studies on the river, and ordered Louisiana to pay millions in damages plus other costs and interest.

The state government has not paid the flood victims citing a lack of funds. Now, the total amount owed by Louisiana taxpayers exceeds $320 million.

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Multiple state bills over the years have tried to get the judgment paid, but the bills never passed. The federal court can now order them to pay the judgment, Nowak said.

Louisiana’s Commissioner of Administration, Jay Dardenne, would not comment on the active litigation. He has not seen the lawsuit but the state has been in conversations with Tangipahoa flood victims, Dardenne added.

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