Post-Katrina Gentilly Landfill Class Action Case Concludes With Settlement

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After years of litigation and negotiations, attorneys with Waltzer Wiygul & Garside today announced an $8,000,000 settlement of a class action lawsuit over ownership of property under the Gentilly Landfill in New Orleans East.

After years of litigation and negotiations, attorneys with Waltzer Wiygul & Garside today announced an $8,000,000 settlement of a class action lawsuit over ownership of property under the Gentilly Landfill in New Orleans East.

As a summary of the case, which may be referenced in the settlement agreement, the City and its private contractors allegedly opened the Gentilly Landfill after Hurricane Katrina and used the area to dispose of millions of tons of hurricane debris while collecting millions of dollars from federal agencies and others. The City allegedly claimed to own the property under the landfill, but public records showed that most of the landfill was on property owned by private landowners. A group of land owners filed a class action lawsuit asking to be compensated for the illegal use of their land.

Referenced in the settlement agreement, the $8,000,000 fund, which includes attorneys’ fees and costs, will pay the owners of property under the landfill approximately $1 per square foot for their property and an additional payment designed to ensure an owner of even a single lot will receive a payment of around $12,000. As part of the settlement, on payment, the City will receive a deed transferring the land and any rights owned. The defendants will also indemnify the prior owners against environmental liabilities. The settlement amount represents a premium price for the land in the area.

Said Doretha Walker, lead plaintiff on behalf of the Class: “This has been going on for a number of years. I am happy for all the other property owners. I look forward to receiving payment along with a decent return on my investment."

Bobby Gelpi, also a class representative and landowner, says: “This was a really challenging task, given the City’s finances. It took creativity and a lot of hard work to get this settlement funded, which we really appreciate.”

Joel Waltzer of Waltzer Wiygul & Garside, the firm that filed the suit and was appointed to represent the class, stated: “While hurricane debris had to go somewhere, the landowners here certainly deserve the premium the settlement provides.” Waltzer continued, “As a whole, this is a “win-win” for all the parties.”

As this is a class action settlement, the Court must approve this Settlement as fair and adequate to the Class. The Court has set a date for the fairness hearing for April 13, 2015. The signed proposed Class Action Settlement is attached as a separate PDF.

The case NO: 2007-14794, Division “C”, Civil District Court for the Parish of Orleans, State of Louisiana, Doretha Z. Walker et al., Individually, and on behalf of those similarly situated v. AMID/Metro Partnership, LLC et al. The 44-page Settlement Agreement has been signed by all parties and Filed with the Court on January 22, 2015.

CONTACT:
Joel Waltzer; 504.340.6300 (o); 504.430.0844 (c); joel(at)waltzerlaw(dot)com
Doretha Walker; 504.458.7757 (c); arlette5422(at)att(dot)net
Robley “Bobby” Gelpi; 504.400.5302 (c); dollprop(at)aol(dot)com

ABOUT WALTZER WIYGUL & GARSIDE LAW FIRM
Borne of the civil rights struggles of the 1960’s, Waltzer Wiygul & Garside continues to provide quality community-based representation to under-served communities and causes. The firm represents private individuals, public interest groups, and communities facing complex environmental and legal challenges. The firm has two offices in New Orleans, including one on the West Bank and one in New Orleans East, as well as an office in Ocean Springs, Mississippi.

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