Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Broussard and Jefferson Parish sued for flooding.

Nation: They are seeking class-action status.

Jefferson Parish residents are suing Parish President Aaron Broussard and the parish, claiming their east bank homes flooded after drainage pump operators were sent out of town before Hurricane Katrina hit. Broussard and the parish "owed a duty to operate the drainage pumps" and "breached that duty by failing to man and operate" them, according to the lawsuit filed Friday in the 24th Judicial District Court in Gretna. The plaintiffs, who are seeking class-action status, want unspecified damages and want the case to be decided by a jury. The lawsuit is assigned to Judge Henry Sullivan. Only two plaintiffs are named: Zoe Aldigé, of Metairie, and Chicago Properties Interests, a Metairie company formed in March 2003 by Mark Marzoni, according to Louisiana secretary of state records. "We have many, many more (plaintiffs), as you well might imagine, given the enormity of the problem," said E. Carroll Rogers, one of three plaintiffs' attorneys. An assistant in Parish Attorney Tom Wilkinson's office said parish officials were not aware of the lawsuit.
Same time, Broussard has taken out full page ads to defend himself.
Facing a steady barrage of criticism and now a lawsuit from owners of flooded property, Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard has launched his most overt -- and possibly most expensive -- public relations venture since Hurricane Katrina, an attempt to explain his decisions during the storm and to lay out plans for the parish's future protection. In four full-page ads in The Times-Picayune costing $38,000 total, Broussard's administration discusses, in its own words, the steps it took before the Aug. 29 landfall and its plans for how to staff pump stations and fortify Jefferson's drainage system for future hurricanes, said Greg Buisson, a political consultant to Broussard who has been working as an administration spokesman. In the aftermath of the catastrophe, the direct communication likely aims to serve dual purposes: to educate the public on policies rarely discussed in stable times, and to temper political fires easily stoked in an atmosphere of silence, longtime observers of Louisiana politics said. "They probably figure they have to do something," said Ed Renwick, director of the Loyola University Institute of Politics. "Obviously, they have a monumental political problem, and you can't just sit back and never say anything. You either have to apologize or you have to explain (that) the decision you made was rational.

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