Will the City of New Orleans be held liable for damages related to flooding?

Now it appears the Sewerage and Water Board has known about these problems for years. But is that enough for someone to win a lawsuit over damages?

NEW ORLEANS -- It now appears that the Sewerage and Water Board has known about the drainage and pump problems for years, but is that enough for someone to win a lawsuit over damages?  Some are considering filing suit, but as Eyewitness News found out, it wouldn't be an easy case to win.

Whenever it rains, Kim Krivjanick, the owner of Ricard's Supplies in Mid-City starts worrying about the runoff outside her window near Broad Street and Orleans Avenue.
 
"I can't really send anything to help my mother, I can't send anything to help my son who's in school," she said.
 
Krivjanick said the water from the Aug. 5 flood went up to the store's windows. She says she's lost thousands in merchandise along with sales, and she still hasn't been able to open back up.  Crews just finished fixing her water soaked walls Monday, Aug. 14.
 
"The city even knew since 2012 that we weren't in a good position," she said in frustration.
 
That's the reason why she says she's falling behind, along with other businesses near North Broad. She blames the city and like some of her neighbors, she wants to know if it's possible to sue.
 
Eyewitness News legal analyst Pauline Hardin explained it's very possible.
 
"People can sue the city and or the Sewerage and water board depending on the what the facts show for their damages," Hardin said. "What someone would sue for would be simple negligence that the city or the Sewerage and Water Board was simply negligent in what they did."
 
But she says it's hard to prove the city, or an individual leader, was intentionally negligent in a case.
 
"I'm sure the city will say that this was an act of God that no matter what they had done that these people would have flooded."
 
Eyewitness News contacted the city about this and a spokesperson told us in a statement:
 
"The City empathizes with residents and businesses who experienced flooding.  
 
Last Monday, Mayor Landrieu, Governor Edwards and other city officials visited with residents and businesses impacted in Treme and Lakeview.  Additionally, the City’s Office of Economic Development has been conducting door to door canvassing of impacted businesses.  
 
Tomorrow, the City and community partners will host a Flood Recovery Resource Center at Corpus Cristi where impacted residents can gain access to information and resources.  
 
We take any and all claims seriously, and if any claims are received, the City would work with the Sewerage & Water Board Risk Management and Legal Teams to address those claims."
 
What's more, it would take tens of thousands of dollars, and possibly a year or more to get to trial.  However, Hardin thinks a class action lawsuit could happen, but isn't sure about a payoff.
 
"At the end of the day getting money from the city could be very difficult even if they win," Hardin said.
 
Not good words to hear for Krivjanick.
 
"The effect is still going to be long hall for me because I'm going to be climbing out of a debt that I shouldn't have had to go through," Krivjanick said.

© 2017 WWL-TV


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