The Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East flood board met on June 19 and voted to press forward with a lawsuit against 97 different gas, oil and pipeline companies that was originally filed in the summer of 2013. The vote was 4-4, and one member was absent, which means that a motion to kill the lawsuit failed. Groups such as the League of Woman Voters and the Bureau of Governmental Research were in favor of the lawsuit continuing.
Governor Bobby Jindal has replaced several members of the board who have supported the lawsuit and created legislation that bars the lawsuit from going forward. Supporters of the lawsuit say that the new law will be challenged, and it was mentioned that the state would have to pay for 14,000 hours that have already been spent on the case.
Estimates suggest that the state could be on the hook for thousands or even millions of dollars even if the lawsuit is not allowed to proceed. During the meeting, a retired Army general addressed the board and urged them to continue with the lawsuit while the lead attorney on the case also planned to address the board regarding the matter.
If a company take actions that harm people or fail to take actions that were necessary to prevent people from being injured, that company and others related to it could face legal action. Although Governor Jindal has tried to introduce legislation to stop legal action from being taken in the case against the 97 companies, it is possible for that law to be overturned on appeal and the case to move forward if it conflicts with other relevant state or federal laws.
Source: WVUE, “SELA Flood Protection Authority-East fails to kill lawsuit against ‘Big Oil’“, June 19, 2014