Ex-president sued for Katrina damage
Attorneys for former Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard are asking a district court judge to drop the remaining charge of willful misconduct against him in a civil lawsuit over his order to evacuate pump operators as Hurricane Katrina approached.
The motion for summary judgment was filed Tuesday by attorneys for Broussard. Judge John Peytavin, a retired judge brought in to preside over the case at the 24th Judicial District Court, set a hearing date for Sept. 19.
Jefferson Parish is also named in the class-action lawsuit, which was filed by a group led by Chicago Property Interests LLC, seeking damages for the destruction caused by the flooding.
Broussard, who is serving a 46-month federal sentence for political corruption, was found by a Louisiana 5th Circuit appellate court in 2008 to be immune to allegations of ordinary negligence in making the evacuation order, but not potential willful misconduct.
The evacuation of parish personnel on the afternoon of Aug. 28 was part of the so-called “Doomsday Plan” that kicked in with the confirmed forecast of a Category 4 storm or greater, the motion said.
As a standard part of the Emergency Operations Plan, it cannot legally be considered willful misconduct, Broussard’s attorneys said.
The motion cited two previous Katrina-related cases in support of dropping Broussard as a defendant.
One potentially helpful decision was a summary judgment from the Louisiana 4th Circuit Court of Appeal in favor of St. Bernard Parish in a suit alleging willful misconduct, while the 4th Circuit also found that the state of Louisiana and the city of New Orleans had total immunity in the death of a woman at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.
The motion also pointed out that a 2008 change in state law allows essential and critical workforce to be evacuated.
“If an order to evacuate the pump operators in 2008 or today would be immune under the emergency statute,” the motion asked, “how can it be willful misconduct in 2005?”