Upstream Harvey Flood Victims To Be Awarded In Historic Win

Jun 14, 2022 | Firm News, Property Damage, Reservoir

hurricane harvey

Houston, Texas. Three years after winning the historic trial against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for intentionally imposing flooding on private Upstream lands during and after Harvey, Armi Easterby, court-appointed co-lead counsel and the lead lawyer for over 1,600 Upstream claimants stated today, “after years of delays we’ve finished the trial that decides how much money the Federal Government owes for deliberately flooding the Upstream community.”

In December 2019, the Court found the Army Corps liable for sacrificing thousands of Upstream homes and businesses behind the Addicks and Barker Dams during and after Harvey. 

“During that storm, the Army Corps operated Addicks and Barker to deliberately submerge over 7,000 acres of privately-owned Upstream private land to protect the City of Houston and its shipping channel,” explained Easterby. “While those areas are vital to the Nation’s economy and should be protected, under our Constitution, the Federal Government must pay for the damage it caused to the Upstream homes and businesses.”

After lengthy delays, the Upstream trial on damages started on Tuesday, May 31st, and concluded on Friday, June 10th. Over 30 witnesses testified during the trial, including expert real estate appraisers who calculated how much the Addicks and Barker Reservoir Pool flooding harmed the claimant’s properties. 

Easterby explained, “it was important for us to prove how damaging the induced-flooding was by using reliable, credible, and well-supported experts.” 

The trial also featured testimony and evidence regarding personal property—furniture, cars, household items, and treasured family heirlooms—which were destroyed by prolonged submersion in the Army Corps’ grossly-contaminated reservoir pools. On the first day of trial, one of the claimants explained, “I’m not trying to become rich from this. I just want to be made whole.”

The Government also called several experts at trial, one of whom claimed it was “equitable and just” to use insurance-adjusting tactics to force Upstream claimants to come out of pocket to pay reasonable and necessary repair costs. During Easterby’s cross-examination, the Government’s witness admitted that how insurance adjustors process claims have no relevance in this case. 

“The whole point of 5th Amendment Just Compensation is to make the claimant whole, and in my personal opinion, the Government’s attempts to ‘nickel and dime’ its own citizens backfired.”

The Court is expected to render a final decision later this year. Despite the prolonged litigation, Easterby made clear that his team will go the distance. “The delays were frustrating, but they couldn’t stop the administration of justice. Our commitment to holding the Federal Government accountable for its choices is stronger than ever.”

Easterby, a partner with the Houston-based firm of Williams Hart & Boundas Boundas Easterby, LLP, has been licensed in the Court of Federal claims for over 20 years and has successfully represented thousands of clients over his career.

Mr. Easterby concluded, “it is important to know that there is still time for Upstream residents to file their claims.” Court records show that thousands of property owners who suffered Addicks Barker reservoir pool flooding have yet to file a claim. Property owners upstream of the Addicks and Barker dams who experienced flooding in late August of 2017 must file it before the statute of limitations expires in 2023 to receive any financial compensation.

Disclaimer: This material is provided for informational purposes only. The provision of this material does not create an attorney-client relationship between the firm and the reader and does not constitute legal advice. Legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case, and the contents of this newsletter are not a substitute for legal counsel. Do not take action in reliance on the contents of this material without seeking the advice of counsel.

The information contained in this blog may or may not reflect the most current legal developments. Accordingly, information in this blog is not promised or guaranteed to be correct or complete, and should not be relied upon as such. Readers should conduct their own appropriate legal research.

$

Free Case Evaluation

When you contact us, the process begins with a free and confidential consultation.