ONE YEAR LATER
As the one-year anniversary of the Harvey flooding comes, we want to pause to think about everyone who lost so much in the devastation. And it is important to remember that, for many people, the struggle remains, whether for the people who have to handle the day-to-day activities to finish out a repair, or for the many people who are fighting to keep their financial heads above water. On behalf of the lawyers handling these cases, please know that we carry the weight of that reality in our hearts and on our minds. We are working very hard to bring everyone in the upstream area relief, as best as we can manage, through this lawsuit.
IDENTIFICATION OF FLOOD CONDITIONS AT TRIBUTARIES
We have a request for our clients. As we explained in the last email, we are currently in the phase of the case called discovery. It involves fact gathering and disclosure of relevant information between the parties. We anticipate that the Government will argue that house flooding happened because of local rainfall or because a nearby creek or bayou came out of its banks. We already have our team of experts working on this issue, but to assist them, we would like to know if any of our clients have relevant information.
In particular, we are looking to collect photos, videos and eyewitness accounts of the nearby creeks and bayous that flow into Addicks and Barker. Cellphone photos and videos are most useful because they often have a date and time stamp, and may even have GPS location coordinates.
Here is a map and the list of the relevant creeks and bayous (with nearby subdivisions) that we seek information about during Harvey:
· Turkey Creek (Lakes on Eldridge)
· Horsepen Creek (Concord Bridge, Twin Lakes)
· Langham Creek & Addicks Reservoir Diversion Channel (Concord Bridge, Twin Lakes, Bear Creek)
· Bear Creek (West Houston Airport area and other subdivisions south of Clay Rd)
· South Mayde Creek (Westlake subdivisions, and Mayde Creek subdivision)
· Mason Creek (Nottingham Country, Greek Trails, University Park West, Stonelodge, Kelliwood)
· Unnamed Tributary T103-00-00 (Plaza on the Park, Lakeforest of Kelliwood)
· Buffalo Bayou (Cinco Ranch, Kelliwood Greens)
· Willow Fork Diversion Channel (Cinco Ranch, Grand Lakes Phase Three, Canyon Gate)
This is our request: if you live on or near—preferably within a block or two— one of those tributaries (listed above) that feed into the federal reservoirs, and if you have good photos or videos of the flooding conditions of these tributaries from Sunday August 27 through Wednesday August 30th, 2017, please let us know. We want to prove exactly when those tributaries got out of their banks, if at all. We understand that many of you evacuated, but we also know that some stayed around and might have collected useful information or photos. For example, we have already collected photos showing that Bear creek remained inside its banks in the evening of Sunday, August 27th and the morning of Monday, August 28th.
If you have any questions about this, please call our office and ask for an Addicks/Barker case manager: 888-248-5215.
Discovery involves fact gathering, document review, and depositions among all the parties. We have completed the depositions of the majority of the 14 test property plaintiffs. They went smoothly, with very few loose ends, and we appreciate the participation of those plaintiffs. We are currently in the process of taking depositions of the government’s witnesses, some of which testify on behalf of the United States (the ultimate defendant), and some in their individual capacities as governmental employees. The process is very involved. But we are happy with the progress and results to date.
On July 24th, Judge Charles F. Lettow held a status conference in Houston. At the hearing, Judge Lettow assisted the parties with potential discovery disputes, scheduling issues and many other issues that have arisen. The Judge indicated his willingness to assist the parties during discovery and depositions, with the objective of meeting the current schedule of a liability trial in Houston starting on February 19th, 2019.
The Judge has scheduled additional status conferences in October, and December to discuss pre-trial matters. We will be ready!
Experts & Documents
We are also preparing our expert witnesses. It is the experts’ job to help the court understand the technical aspects of the case. As you know, we have retained Dr. Phil Bedient of Rice University to be the lead expert in explaining the operation of the Addicks & Barker Dams and Reservoirs. He is in the process of preparing a report that we will disclose to the government. Likewise, the government’s experts will disclose their reports to us. In terms of document review, the government has produced more than a million pages of documents, and several hundred gigabytes of files. We have loaded these documents into a sophisticated database that allows us to review, search and categorize them. Our team is going through the documents, with assistance from a staff of document reviewers.
TOWN HALL MEETINGS
We are currently very busy on discovery and have not held a town hall meeting this summer. As depositions are starting to wind down, we now expect to hold another town hall meeting in September. In the meantime, we are happy to speak to, or meet with, potential clients to answer questions. We continue to receive many “intake” phone calls and emails. If you have a group with have questions about the lawsuit—it could be a community organization of your block— we would be happy to attend (or host) group meetings.We want to get the word out, whether in a public setting or your kitchen. Please contact us if you are interested. And, aside from that, we will update everyone on the next town hall meeting.
Please help us connect with your friends and neighbors.
Charles Irvine, Irvine & Conner PLLC
Daniel Charest, Burns Charest LLP
Larry Vincent, Burns Charest LLP
Co-Lead Counsel for Upstream Harvey Flood Cases