New Developments In The Harvey Addicks And Barker Reservoir Case

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New Developments In The Harvey Addicks And Barker Reservoir Case

A decision was announced on December 17, 2019  by the Judge in reservoir litigation in the United States court of Federal Claims in Washington, DC. The decision followed a 10 day trial that was held in Houston, TX starting May 6, 2019. This was the very first trial of the first 13 “test” or “bellwether” upstream properties (upstream of the Reservoirs) in this litigation.

The trial was split into two parts:

  1. Liability: Whether the United States is liable for the damages suffered by those flooded “upstream” of the Reservoirs.
  2. Damages: What damages are each property owner entitled to from the United States as a result of that flooding.

The Court agreed with the property owners that the United States was liable to them for an “uncompensated taking” of the upstream properties by the release of waters from the Reservoirs that were filled with floodwater from Harvey. That means that in these 13 upstream cases, the United States is liable for the damages suffered by those properties flooded north of or above the Reservoirs. The next step on this first trial is to determine the amount of damages due each of those upstream property owners.

The decision is regarding the upstream properties, only. A separate trial will have to be held to determine the United States’ liability for downstream property damages.

Please keep in mind that this trial and the others to come are NOT class actions. “Class Actions” are lawsuits where one or two plaintiffs file suit on behalf of all people who have a similar claim, and the success of a class action depends on the strength of those two plaintiff’s claims. While this recent trial involved a “grouping” of 13 “test” or “bellwether” cases, it was a trial of individually filed cases, just like yours, grouped together for the judicial economy and efficiency of having one trial. The success of each individually filed case depends on the strength of that case, only, as it will be evaluated on its own damages.

You can read the opinion by clicking here.
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