Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Unleash the lawyers

There were two critical stories likely lost in the noise of the crime march and the New Orleans Saints this week that everyone who cares about New Orleans needs to catch up on. First, Sen. Joe Lieberman's believes its time for all of us to just move on and stop looking back at Katrina and the Federal Flood). He announced this past week he will not pursue a promised investigation of the government's role in the disaster. This will rob us of our best opportunity to establish the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' complete culpability for the Federal Flood and to begin to seek the full compensation and the Category Five levees we are entitled to.

We are not ready to get over it, to just move on. Also Sen. Mary Landrieu's meek announcment that she will demure to his decision is also unacceptable, and we have to let her know in no uncertain terms that this will be her last term in public office if she is not prepared to continue to fight for justice for us.

We need this forum in Washington not to humiliate the incompetent, but because it presents us the opportunity to make our case that we are entitled to full compensation for the losses caused by the Federal Flood. Ultimately it is in the Federal's best interest to pay, for the same reason they opened up the federal purse after 9-11: to save a major industry from bankruptcy.

Our second don't-miss story from last week was the ruling awarding both a settlement and $2 million in punitive damages to a Mississippi couple in their lawsuit against Allstate opens every other insurance company on the Hurricane Coast to a similar judgement.

Apply that to 80,000 displaced Orlenian households gets us to $160 Billion, and we haven't even touched on people outside of Orleans Parish. If the Feds will not pay full compensation to the victims of the Federal Flood then we need to go after the only other deep pocket available: the insurance companies. We will have to do this, and potentially bankrupt the two largest property-and-casualty carriers in the nation, because the Federals and in particular the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers continues to hide from their responsibility behind soveriegn immunity.

If we have no other avenue than to bankrupt several of the nation's largest insurance carriers, then I saw let it begin. It will be just too damn bad if that ends home sales and construction in the U.S. and forces millions into bankruptcy when they lose the insurance required by their mortgage. They will simply be in the same boat as tens of thousands of Orlenians.

All of those homeowners and construction workers and realtors, well, they'll just have to pick themselves up by their own bootstraps and figure out some way to get on with their lives, just as we are asked to do.

Or the Congress can act as they did after 9-11, not out of sympathy for the victims but out of fear of the bankruptcy of the airlines and other industries, and payout what they in fact owe us. The choice is now up to them

The guilt is obvious and the resulting lawsuits would total in the billions. So, the politicians back away quietly in their slime.
You're right, Mark, those *were* lost in last week's excitement. I also blogged Lieberman's wormy concession to his president. We need to push the House to investigate. Not only will the Corps get off if we don't, but so will the rest of the Federal government, for just allowing what happened in New Orleans after The Flood to just happen. While there has been detailed examination of the mechanics of the levee failures, we don't know everything that was happening in the White House while folks were dying in New Orleans. It was inexcusable. If we don't learn everything there is to know about how it happened, it could happen again, anywhere. We cannot, as a nation, allow our leaders to just dismiss New Orleans. We cannot.
Demure? Freudian slip or typo? Either way I love it.
Don't get too excited.

In the Mississippi cases there was little or nothing remaining after the storm surge, so the evidence of what actually happened was either lost of nonexistent.

In the vast majority of New Orleans cases it is pretty easy to determine what was caused by flood and what was caused by wind. Most houses suffered no wind damage, only slow immersion.
But the legal theory in Mississippi is that storm surge is a wind event and not a flood (as in here comes the big rain or snowmelt downstream). And the insurance cartels are looking to settle. If they do on that basis, then we need to get us a new attorney general with a full compliment of glands.
I though the ruling was that it was up to the Insurance companies to prove that the loss was caused by flood and not wind. Without evedence they can't do that.
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