LIVINGSTON — The Livingston Parish Council and parish president agreed Thursday to hire a lawyer to defend a $53 million lawsuit pending against the parish over Hurricane Gustav cleanup costs.
International Equipment Distributors Inc., the parish’s main contractor in the cleanup, sued the parish last year saying the parish had paid only “a small fraction of the money it owes IED.”
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has refused to pay the parish for most of the cleanup costs, and the parish is in the process of making a final appeal to FEMA headquarters to pay a portion of the bills submitted by IED.
IED maintains the parish owes the $53 million to the firm whether FEMA pays the parish or not.
The council voted unanimously to authorize Parish President Layton Ricks to engage the McGlinchey Stafford law firm in an agreement that puts a $10,000 cap on payments to the firm unless the council approves additional funds.
Ricks agreed to sign the agreement, though he said he does not think there is any immediate action the attorneys can take. He said he believes the council’s attorney, Chris Moody, could monitor the matter for the moment.
The case is “at a standstill” while the parish’s appeal is ongoing, Ricks said, but he agreed to the wishes of the council.
Councilman Chance Parent said he wants to get McGlinchey Stafford involved so it can take action as soon as necessary.