Apr 6, 2010 3:32 PM by Melissa Canone
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - State and local agencies that inspect
and certify levees built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
wouldn't be legally liable for any damage caused by faulty design
or construction, under a bill approved Tuesday by a House
The measure (House Bill 491) by Rep. Robert Billiot, D-Westwego,
would exempt levee districts, drainage districts, owners and
operators of property used for flood protection, state agencies
that oversee the levees and their contractors from liability for
personal injury, property damages and other losses caused by
federal design and construction failures.
Billiot said the agencies shouldn't be responsible for levee
decisions beyond their control.
"The local levee districts and levee boards play no part in the
design and construction of the levees that are built to protect the
citizens," said Tim Doody, president of the Southeast Louisiana
Flood Protection Authority-East, which oversees levees in the New
Billiot initially proposed the local and state agencies be
immune from any liability connected to levee failure, but members
of the House Civil Law and Procedure Committee said that was too
Rep. John Bel Edwards, D-Amite, said the agencies should be held
accountable for the maintenance of the levees, which falls under
their job requirements.
"Your bill would say they're not going to be held responsible
for anything ever. That just goes so far beyond what the law is and
what the law should be," Edwards told Billiot.
Other committee members agreed, and they approved changes to
limit the bill's liability immunity to design and construction of
the levees. The committee then approved the revised bill without
objection, sending it to the House floor for debate