By Kristen Johnson, Multimedia Journalist/ Weekend Anchor - bio | email
SIOU X CITY, Iowa (KTIV) -
A Missouri law firm has dropped a class-action lawsuit against the U-S Army Corps of Engineers for the 2011 flood.
The suit against the federal government alleged the flood was the result of mismanagement by the Corps; that they knew releasing water from upstream reservoirs would cause downstream flooding.
Estimates put the flood's cost at more than two-billion dollars. Home and business owners in five states, including many in Siouxland, joined the lawsuit, hoping to get back money they spent to repair and replace their property.
This week, they received this letter, which KTIV obtained from one of those Siouxland plaintiffs, from the Murphy, Taylor, Siemens, and Elliott Law Firm, stating they no longer believe the flood was foreseeable.
The firm claims they spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to acquire scientific research, internal Corps emails, and other evidence to prove their case.
However, they determined the Corps could have not done anything differently to avoid the flood.
Here is an excerpt from that letter:
"Although the decision of the Supreme Court in Arkansas Game & Fish Commission v. United states has opened the door for flood victims to pursue a claim for the taking of private property for a public purpose under the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, certain facts must still be proven for flood victims to be entitled to compensation. Based up on our detailed investigation, one of those fact issues now appears to be problematic. That issue is forseeability, which means that the flood was foreseeable to the Corps or some other federal agency at a time when alternative action could have been taken to avoid or significantly minimize its impact. Our initial examination of this issue led us to a preliminary conclude that forseeability could be proven. However, further review indicates to us that the question is much more troublesome than previously thought.
It is not enough to show that, in hindsight, the Corps should have known to release more water prior to March 1, 2011. A federal statute prohibits an action for flood damages where the Corps was negligent in its management of the reservoir system. We must essentially prove that the Corps deliberately managed the reservoirs in a manner that sacrificed one man's property to protect some other public interest."
The firm believes it is difficult to pinpoint an exact date when this type of forseeability was present prior to the onset of record rainfall.
They point out that there are federal lawsuits pending that could shed more light on this issue, and the level of forseeability required to give rise to a claim. The issue may not be dead, other attorneys have already begun to contact Siouxland flood victims. Murphy, Taylor, Siemens, and Elliott say the plaintiffs have two years to file a new lawsuit.
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