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New board candidates may jeopardize SLFPA-E suit

The fate of the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East lawsuit against 97 oil and gas companies may be decided when filling seats on a New Orleans-area levee authority, and sources indicate that the committee meets to discuss applicants the week of Aug. 25. Elected officials have attacked the suit, and an anti-lawsuit commissioner could give the board enough votes to drop the case.

The SLFPA-E filed the lawsuit in 2013, alleging that coastal marshes were eroded and destroyed by oil and gas companies over decades. New Orleans is now said to be more vulnerable to storm surges because the marshes served as a buffer zone. Three men are candidates for two board positions. So far, Governor Bobby Jindal, a clear opponent of the suit, has replaced four committee members who supported the lawsuit.

Two former levee board members, Paul Kemp and Jeff Angers, are seeking reappointment after their terms ended in June, and Kemp is a proponent of the suit while the Angers opposes it. Mark Morgan is the third candidate, and Kemp and Morgan are both qualified for the seat reserved for an engineer or scientist. According to sources, the committee could reappoint Kemp, or it could nominate Morgan, who believes the suit to be a distraction from the SLFPA-E’s main objective, which is to protect against flood damage. Jindal must appoint the name given for this technical seat but can choose the second appointment if given two names.

Civil lawsuits may be brought against a company to hold it accountable for unsafe business practices or defective products. Those who were injured or otherwise negatively affected by a large company’s actions may have grounds to file a suit for damages. A lawyer might review the facts surrounding a case to determine if a lawsuit is warranted, and if so, which damages to pursue.

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