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Katrina Victims Rejected by High Court in Army Corps Suit

Katrina Victims Rejected by U.S. High Court in Army Corps Suit
A file photo shows steps that are all that remain of a destroyed home near the repaired levee wall in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans during May 2009. Photographer: Mario Tama/Getty Images

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected an appeal from Hurricane Katrina victims seeking billions of dollars on claims that the Army Corps of Engineers added to the storm’s impact by improperly maintaining a shipping channel.

The justices today left intact a federal appeals court decision that said the Federal Tort Claims Act shields the U.S. government from lawsuits. The lower-court ruling came in test cases designed to resolve many of the hundreds of Katrina-related suits against the federal government.

Units of Entergy Corp., a New Orleans-based energy company, were among those urging a high-court review. Entergy says it sustained $1.3 billion in damage from the 2005 hurricane.

A federal trial judge found “monumental negligence” by the Army Corps in allowing erosion to widen the channel to three times its design width over the course of decades. The judge said the widened channel exacerbated the effect of the Katrina storm surge, helping cause the breach of a levee and the flooding of New Orleans’s Lower Ninth Ward and St. Bernard Parish.

The case is Lattimore v. United States, 12-1092.

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