Sewell et al v. Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans et al
ORDER and REASONS denying 228 Motion for Partial Summary Judgment, as stated within document. Signed by Chief Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt on 10/12/2016. (Reference: ALL CASES)(cbs)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA
ELIZABETH SEWELL, ET AL.
NO. 15-3117 c/w 15-6276, 16-2326,
16-2328, 16-3120, 16-4248, 16-4233,
SEWERAGE AND WATER BOARD
OF NEW ORLEANS
SECTION “N” (3)
THIS DOCUMENT RELATES TO ALL CASES
ORDER & REASONS
Before the Court is the “Sewell Plaintiffs’ Motion for Partial Summary Judgment” (Rec.
Doc. 228), which seeks a judicial determination on the issue of whether the defendant, the
Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans (“SWB”) is the entity potentially liable for the
plaintiffs’ inverse condemnation claims. 1 The SWB opposes the motion (Rec. Doc. 276), and the
plaintiffs have filed a reply (Rec. Doc. 289). Now, having considered the memoranda and the
applicable law, the Court denies the motion.
There is no bright line rule for determining which government entity is responsible for a
taking. Holzenthal v. Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans, 2006-0796 (La. App. 4 Cir.
1/10/07), 950 So.2d 55, 66. Rather, the issue “is to be decided on the facts of the individual case.”
Id. Here, the involvement of the United States Army Corps of Engineers and the Louisiana Coastal
Protection and Restoration Authority, as well as more than one source of funding, creates a genuine
dispute that precludes the Court from granting summary judgment on the issue.
Save for civil action nos. 16-3120 and 16-12368, the plaintiffs named in the other cases that
comprise this consolidated proceeding have moved to join in and adopt the motion of the Sewell
Plaintiffs. (See Rec. Docs. 238, 239, & 263). Those motions are hereby granted.
Notwithstanding the above, the Court believes that the Holzenthal decision should
encourage the parties to resolve this issue pre-trial, if possible. A comparison of the Project
Cooperation Agreement with the Project Partnership Agreement and Cooperative Endeavor
Agreement suggests that the SWB’s substantive role in the SELA Project has remained largely
unchanged from Holzenthal to present. The contracts alone, however, do not show that the
plaintiffs are entitled to judgment, as a matter of law. Accordingly,
IT IS ORDERED that the Motion (Rec. Doc. 228) is DENIED.
New Orleans, Louisiana, this 12th day of October 2016.
KURT D. ENGELHARDT
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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