In its special Board meeting held yesterday, 2 March 2015, the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority – East (Authority) decided (in a 5-4 vote) to proceed with the appeal against the District Court's decision that dismissed the Authority's lawsuit coastal erosion lawsuit against oil and gas companies.
The suit is against 88 oil and gas companies for destroying southeast Louisiana’s coastal wetlands, thus making South Louisiana more vulnerable to severe weather and flooding through oil and gas activities over decades. According to the USGS fact sheet shows, about half of the wetland habitats have been lost over the past 200 years. As the same source suggests, this loss is attributed in part to “human activities, such as dredging wetlands for canals or draining”. The suit demands repair of the wetlands or damages to be paid to the Authority to improve the levee system.
On February 13, 2015, Judge Nanette Jolivette Brown of the District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana dismissed the lawsuit filed by the Authority individually and on behalf of the Board governing Orleans, Lake Borgne Basin, and the East Jefferson Levee Districts. Judge Brown found that there is no viable claim for negligence, strict liability, nor natural servitude of drain; there is no legal duty to plaintiffs arising out of LA law or federal regulatory regime; and, in the absence of an immovable interest, there are no public or private nuisance claims. For these reasons, the court granted the defendant's motion to dismiss.
The Authority's appeal will be heard by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.