Case 1:05-cv-01119-SGB Document 52 Filed 12/17/2007 Page 1 of 6
IN THE UNITED STATES COURT OF FEDERAL CLAIMS
ROCCO TOMMASEO, and
THOMAS TOMMASEO, and
ROCKY AND CARLO, INC., and
STEVEN BORDELON, husband of,
and CYNTHIA BORDELON and,
STEVE’S MOBILE HOME & R.V. REPAIR,
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
Hon. Susan G. Braden
DEFENDANT’S OPPOSITION TO MOTION TO AMEND COMPLAINT
Comes now the United States of America, Defendant herein, by and through its
undersigned counsel and files it objections and opposition to Plaintiffs’ Motion of November 30,
2007 to file a Second Amended Complaint (Doc. No. 51).
Plaintiffs filed this action on October 17, 2005, on behalf of themselves and other
similarly situated individuals, alleging that “[o]n or about August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina
struck the Louisiana and Mississippi Gulf Coast pushing a storm surge through the MRGO. The
storm surge overwhelmed the levee system between the MRGO and plaintiffs’ property in St.
Bernard Parish resulting in massive flooding and the destruction of plaintiffs’ property.” (See
Doc. No. 1 at ¶ 13). Plaintiffs amended their complaint on January 13, 2006, alleging in their
First Amended Class Action Complaint that “[o]n or about August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina
Case 1:05-cv-01119-SGB Document 52 Filed 12/17/2007 Page 2 of 6
struck southeastern Louisiana and the Mississippi Gulf Coast pushing a storm surge through the
MRGO and into St. Bernard Parish .” (See Doc. No. 10 at ¶ 11).
On November 30, 2007, plaintiffs moved to again amend their complaint, stating that
they hoped “to provide further clarity.” (Doc. No. 51 at 3) (“Pltfs’ Mot.”). A review of the
proposed Second Amended Class Action Complaint reveals that plaintiffs have not accomplished
this goal. In fact, by attempting to add new named parties with admittedly factually dissimilar
claims, see Pltfs’ Mot. at 4-7 (discussing the differences between the current plaintiffs’ claims
and those of the proposed parties), plaintiffs propose to further confuse the issues in this case.
They have gone from alleging that a hurricane was at least a significant contributing cause of
their alleged flood damages, (Doc. No. 1 at ¶ 13; Doc. No. 10 at ¶ 11), to alleging multiple
claims based on flood waters blown by the easterly wind, see, e.g., Pltfs’ Mot, Ex. 1 at ¶¶ 9, 32,
37 (“ Prop. 2nd Am. Compl.”), claims based on the need to elevate structures to receive aid
money, id. at ¶¶ 28, 37, claims based on the “consumption of dry land,” id. at ¶¶ 7, 9, 11 and a
claim based on the operation of locks. Id. at ¶ 42. Rather than clarity, plaintiffs have simply
provided additional ill defined claims.
While it is true that Rule 15 of the Rules of the Court of Federal Claims provides that
leave to amend be freely given when “justice so requires,” justice does not require this honorable
Court to allow this grossly expansive and more confusing amended complaint. The proposed
amended complaint would more than double to number of plaintiffs in this case, see Prop. 2nd
Am. Compl. at 1, and add several new and different causes of action on behalf of the proposed
new parties from those contained in the present complaint. Further, each of the new claims
would have a different accrual date for statute of limitations purposes and thus vastly complicate
Case 1:05-cv-01119-SGB Document 52 Filed 12/17/2007 Page 3 of 6
this court’s need to determine questions regarding such statute. We also note that the proposed
amended complaint is insufficient as it does not in any place allege the purported date of taking
of the properties so claimed.1/
THE PROPOSED AMENDED COMPLAINT MODIFIES THE CLAIMS OF THE
CURRENT NAMED PLAINTIFFS
Defendant notes specifically that the proposed amended complaint modifies the claims of
the four existing natural persons (the remaining existing plaintiffs are corporations or entities
owned by these four natural persons) by essentially dropping the causal mechanism as Hurricane
Katrina and other “tropical cyclonic weather events” and now seeks recovery for a taking
because of the alleged effects of the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet Project (MRGO) over an
unstated but obviously long period of years. Again, no date of taking for such new claims is
In addition, it is now proposed to add nine new plaintiffs, including the St. Bernard
Parish Government, each of which would assert a different cause of action based on different
factors of causation than those that are argued to support the existing complaint and also based
on locations in St. Bernard Parish that are distinct and different from those properties belonging
to the existing plaintiffs2/
1/ This is important because the various claims plaintiffs now assert will likely have different
2/ Existing plaintiffs properties are all alleged to be in the communities of Mereaux, Violet and
Chalmette in St. Bernard Parish.
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EVEN IF IT IS ADDED AS A PARTY, THE CLAIMS OF ST. BERNARD PARISH
ARE PARTIALLY INVALID
The St. Bernard Parish Government is alleged to have suffered a taking of a total of 90
properties located throughout the Parish without any geographic location being provided or
showing of how such properties are likely to be affected by the MRGO project. Takings are
alleged based on inability of the parish to alienate such properties, see Prop. 2nd Am. Compl. at ¶
27, or “because of the need to elevate new structures.” Id. at ¶ 28. It is the position of the
United States that neither of these claims can serve as a proper basis for an alleged Fifth
Amendment taking of private property, and in any event are claims not being made on behalf of
the existing plaintiffs.
THE CLAIMS OF THE REMAINING PROPOSED PARTIES ARE FACTUALLY
DISSIMILAR TO THE NAMED PLAINTIFFS’ CLAIMS
Purported new Plaintiff Edward Robin, owns property in the most southern part of St.
Bernard Parish very near the MRGO which is separate and distinct from the properties owned by
existing plaintiffs. The amended complaint alleges that “[h]urricanes are no longer required to
flood these properties,” and that flooding of such properties has “increased in frequency and
magnitude in recent years.” See Prop. 2nd Am. Compl. at ¶32 (Emphasis added). This claim
would obviously require different factual proof both on causation and the alleged date of taking
than would the existing claims. Similarly, proposed plaintiffs Yscloskey Developments Nos. 1,
2, 3, and 4 also alleges flooding of properties “when the “wind blows from the east” even during
sunny skies. Id. at ¶ 37.3/ Another new proposed plaintiff - the Robin Seafood Company - also
3/ In addition, no factually based allegation is made as to when or how this flooding came about
or even the nature and extent of such flooding.
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asserts flooding due to a strong easterly wind.4/ Id. at ¶ 38.
Proposed plaintiff Port Ship Service, Inc. is another distinctly different property in a
different location than the existing plaintiffs, which is alleged to be near “the intersection of the
MRGO and the Gulf Intracoastal waterway” (GIWW) in Northern St. Bernard Parish. Id. at ¶
41. Loss of revenues to that business is alleged because of the operation of locks on these
waterways. Id. at ¶ 42. This is yet another clearly different and distinct cause of action not
based on facts common to the claims of the existing plaintiffs.
Finally, plaintiffs propose to add new plaintiffs – Henry and Gwendolyn Adams – who
are alleged to own property in the lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans. It is alleged that the lower
Ninth Ward “is susceptible to the synergistic effect of amplified storm surge and wave action,
when water moves up the MRGO into the GIWW, and that owners in that area “cannot rebuild
without elevating their homes at significant expense.” Id. at ¶ 45. This is another claim that
does not fit with those of the currently named plaintiffs.
The addition of these multiple new plaintiffs with distinct alleged causes of action, and
what will almost certainly be different dates of taking, is clearly prejudicial to any effort to
efficiently resolve the existing case. Allowing this amendment would vastly increase the burden
of factual development and needlessly multiply the necessary legal arguments.
Nothing prevents these proposed plaintiffs from filing separate cases that are capable of
being handled without the complications of adding them to the already complicated cases
presently before this Court for resolution. The needs of Justice also require the Court to consider
4/ In addition, no factually based allegation is made as to when or how this flooding came about
or even the nature and extent of such flooding.
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such effects, and whether there is not a more rational and reasonable basis for hearing such
claims, if they are to be filed, than piling them all into one case where there is very little factual
commonality between these purported claims.
For these reasons, this Honorable Court is respectfully requested to deny the Motion of
the Plaintiffs to file the Proposed Second Amended Complaint.
Respectfully Submitted this 17th day of December, 2007,
Ronald J. Tenpas
Assistant Attorney General
Environment and Natural Resources Division
s/ Fred R. Disheroon by Mark T. Romley
Fred R. Disheroon, Special Litigation Counsel
Mark T. Romley, Trial Attorney
Natural Resources Section
Environment and Natural Resources Division
U.S. Department of Justice
601 D St. N.W., Room 3022
Washington D.C. 20004