Louisiana Flood of 1983 – Suing the State for Causing Flooding

The mayor of Walker, a small town near Baton Rouge that flooded in the August 2016 flood, wants to sue the State of Louisiana for flooding caused by the recent expansion of federal highway I12. (While the Federal Department of Transportation funds highway construction, the designed and construction is done by the state and its contractors.) A class action lawsuit was filed against the State after the 1983 flood, alleging that a different stretch of I12 blocked the drainage for a group of homeowners and caused them to flood. The plaintiffs were successful and won a sizable verdict against the state. Unfortunately, in Louisiana, there is no way to enforce a state court judgment against the State, so the plaintiffs were never able to collect the judgment.

The Case

Boudreaux v. STATE, DEPT. OF TRANSP. & DEVELOPMENT, 780 So. 2d 1163 (La. Ct. App. 2001).

News stories:

39 years later, lawmakers endorse $95 million settlement for Tangipahoa Parish flood victims 

Hell and high water: The devastating flood of Livingston and East Baton Rouge parishes in 1983


Jon A Kusler, A Comparative Look at Public Liability for Flood Hazard Mitigation (2008).

Jon Kusler, Flood Risk In The Courts: Reducing Government Liability While Encouraging Government Responsibility (2011).

Jon Kusler, Government Liability and Climate Change: Selected Legal Issues Related to Flood Hazards (2014).