Master Complaint and Test Property Process.
As we have described in earlier emails, the Court has urged a streamlined process for all the flooding cases. The Court expects the parties to use “test properties” rather than hold thousands of trials for everyone’s case to proceed through the court system. Using “test properties” will move the litigation forward on the issue of the Government’s liability, while other cases are on hold. On Tuesday January 16, we filed a “Master Complaint” for the upstream cases based on 13 clients who were willing to serve as test properties and who reflect a variety of different flooding experiences behind the Addicks and Barker Dams (different amounts of flooding, different types of property owners, different locations). The Houston Chronicle wrote about it here.
Here is what is important about the Master Complaint we filed: We asked our clients who are “test properties” to serve as “class representatives” for a class action. Because everyone flooded behind Addicks and Barker Dams for the same reason—the Army Corps designed the dams and reservoirs to hold more water than the Government purchased land—we should be able to use the class action procedure to achieve liability results for thousands of people with only the number of test cases we selected. The class action is the best way to “win” for everyone who flooded behind Addicks/Barker dams if we “win” for the test cases on the Corps’ liability. But our case is not a typical class action because this phase focuses on liability. People’s damages will differ. We are handling the damages of our clients on an individual basis.
Please note that we are still reviewing candidates for “back up” test properties, in case the government requests additional test properties. So if you are interested in serving as a back up, please let us know.
Getting the Word Out.
We know how this litigation will unfold, and we want to get the word out that this lawsuit is progressing apace. Please spread the word to your neighbors on Facebook, Nextdoor, or just word of mouth—whatever it takes. Here is a reminder about who we are and what we plan for the case:
OUR LEGAL TEAM: The Court appointed our lawyers to 3 of the 6 leadership positions for the upstream cases. (We are happy to share the Court’s appointment order with you.) Our team is comprised of environmental attorneys with experience in flooding litigation—Irvine & Conner—and a complex litigation firm that handles high stakes litigation—Burns Charest. In addition, one of our team’s lawyers, Larry Dunbar, is also an engineer/hydrologist. Also, we think it’s worth mentioning that we sued the Army Corps before on issues related to Addicks, so we understand the reservoirs very well and why the Corps flooded your private property.
OUR STRATEGY FOR THIS CASE: We have a variety of different clients—homeowners, renters, landlords, investment properties, businesses, storefronts, and Homeowners Associations. It is important to have a plan to seek relief for everyone, and we believe using the “class action” procedure on liability provides the best way to do this. While the liability phase runs forward, we plan to work with all of our clients to evaluate their damages on an individual basis. Also, we have already hired our experts for evaluating everyone’s damages. (Funny story: the Government tried to hire our flooding damages expert—but we already had him retained!)
OUR ENGAGEMENT WITH CLIENTS: Our contingency fee is 25% and the client pays no expenses. If we are successful in your claim, then you keep 75% of whatever the Court awards to you. Other lawyers may be asking higher fees or make you pay the expenses, so read the fine print! And ask questions!
Town Hall Meeting: Saturday, January 27 at noon.
At our town hall meetings, we explain why the upstream flooding happened, what the Army Corps knew, and what our plan for the lawsuit is. We will discuss the status of the case and, of course, take questions. We have frequent meetings.
The next meeting will be on January 27, starting at 12:00 PM, at the Four Points by Sheraton Houston Energy Corridor, located at 18861 Katy Freeway, Houston, Texas 77094. Here is a link to the location.
In addition, we have set up different places to get information and/or send us questions. Please feel free to access these resources and/or pass them (or even this email) along to your neighbors. Getting the word out about the case and our meetings will be a big help to us and the affected upstream flood victims.