JEFFERSON, La. -- A jury in Jefferson Parish is now deliberating in a civil class action lawsuit that blames the parish for the widespread flooding during Hurricane Katrina.
The jury began deliberations around 1:30 p.m. Wednesday. One of the questions jurors will have to answer: Did the parish and former parish president Aaron Broussard willfully engage in misconduct when the parish evacuated drainage pump station workers before Hurricane Katrina?
The plaintiffs said the decision to evacuate those pump workers ahead of the storm's landfall was in a word, stupid.
"This stupidity doomed the parish to flooding," said plaintiff attorney Darleen Jacobs in her closing argument.
During the nearly three-week long trial, the plaintiffs painted a picture of a parish government in 2005 that was ill-prepared, confused and poorly managed.
Much of the criticism focused on Aaron Broussard and the so-called "Doomsday" plan that called for the evacuation of parish workers when a category 4 or 5 storm is forecast to strike.
The parish officials called in by the plaintiffs could recall knowing of the plan and its details of the evacuations until after the storm.
In a video deposition, former parish president Aaron Broussard himself said he did not know who actually issued the evacuation of the pump operators.
The defense argued that the parish precisely followed what was detailed in the now defunct Doomsday Plane. It brought in witnesses to testify that the capacity of the pumps that were abandoned for 12 hours during Katrina was no match for the storm's rainfall and surge.
Ultimately, the defense argued, the safety of parish workers took priority over the thousands of properties that flooded.
"There is no evidence that there was any willful intent to cause harm to the parish. It's nonsense," said defense attorney Dennis Phayer in his closing argument.
Phayer told jurors that having the luxury of hindsight can make criticism easy. He said what the plaintiffs were engaged in is a classic case of "Monday morning quarterbacking."
The jury was still deliberating at the time of this writing.