Today, the Court ruled that the “Master Amended Complaint for Upstream Cases” that we filed would be the Master Complaint for all upstream cases. All other complaints and cases have been put on hold (or “administratively stayed”). A copy of the Court’s Case Management Order is here. Also today, the Court denied the Government’s motion for a more definite statement “in light of the light of the filing of the Master Amended Complaint for Upstream Plaintiffs.” A copy of the Master Complaint is here.
The Court’s orders followed a lengthy, robust telephonic hearing that the Court had with the Government lawyers and Upstream Co-Lead counsel. During the hearing, we explained our plan to the judge and advocated for an expedited schedule. So far, the Court continues to be receptive and commended our plan:
CHAREST: Your Honor, yes, our anticipation…is when we’re talking about the merits and when we have gone past the jurisdictional sort of step there, that’s when we would anticipate raising class, with the idea that it be… argued and briefed and determined concurrent with…a liability ruling…by the end of 2018. That’s the concept, that we [achieve] a ruling on liability and a ruling on class, hopefully concurrently, and moving from there. That’s my big picture plan.
THE COURT: That is a remarkably ambitious but commendable goal, and we hope we can achieve that result in terms of timing.
As we have described in other updates, the Court is requiring the use of “test properties” for the first phase of the lawsuit, so that thousands of cases do not overwhelm the court system. We expect about 15 test cases will be actively litigated, with the Co-Lead Counsel selecting 10 test cases. Our clients who are serving as “test properties” are also willing to be “class representatives” so that, if we are successful in proving the Government is liable for their flooding, then we can apply that liability finding to everyone who flooded within the reservoir pools of Addicks and Barker.
If successful, this would mean every individual does not have to go through the court process to prove the Government is responsible for their flooding. But this is not a typical class action because, while the liability finding is common for everyone, the damages that people suffer vary from home to home. Also, this is not a typical class action because each client’s damages could differ and will require individualized work to prove.
We are working on our clients’ damages.
Next week, we will meet with our damage experts. The experts have prepared a draft outline of documents and materials they need to evaluate each client’s damages. Following that meeting, we will be reaching out to our clients to begin to work up each client’s damages. Our plan for our individual clients is to work up each clients’ damages, so that if we are successful on liability, then everyone is ready to move forward with their damages claim.
We will host two informational meetings for next week: Feb. 8th (after work) and Feb. 10th (mid-morning)
These meetings are for upstream flood victims, particularly new and potential clients to learn about why you flooded and what the lawsuit can do for you. We will share maps of the flooded areas. We always stay until all questions are answered. (Vamos a tener un traductor de espanol en las dos juntas.)
The first meeting is on Thursday February 8th, time and location are will be announced later, but it will be in the evening after work.
We will also have a meeting on Saturday, February 10th, starting at 12:00 PM, at the Four Points by Sheraton Houston Energy Corridor, located at 18861 Katy Freeway, near Greenhouse road (on the south side of I-10).