Archive for the 'lawsuits' Category

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March 28, 2011



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Why didn’t the largest barge fleet in the US have a written plan?

February 21, 2008

Opinion issued 18 July 2007

Ingram is the largest…barge fleet in the United States. Testimony of David Sehrt. – page 13

http://72.14.205.104/search?q=cache:4Ryuh_XrAd0J:www.bargecase.com/updates/702%255B1%255D%255B1%255D.Phase%2520I%2520Judgment.pdf+louisiana+parish,+zito+fleet&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=10&gl=us&client=firefox-a

http://www.bargecase.com/updates/702%5B1%5D%5B1%5D.Phase%20I%20Judgment.pdf

Also, Ingram’s Senior Vice President Chief Operations Officer, David Sehrt (“Sehrt”), testified that Ingram did not have a written hurricane plan and that he knew about the allegedly applicable USCG and statutory rules and regulations[8].

See Levees Lawsuits excerpted below

Barge that Katrina heaved is trials focus – this link no longer operating

Residents blame Nashville company for destroyed homes

06/05/2007

NEW ORLEANS — An eye-popping symbol of Hurricane Katrina’s destructive fury in New Orleans — a barge that landed on several homes in the city’s Lower 9th Ward — is at the center of a trial that started Monday in federal court.

The empty barge, nearly 200 feet long and weighing 705 gross tons, broke free of its moorings during the Aug. 29, 2005, hurricane and wound up on the other side of a levee breach on the east side of the Industrial Canal.

The barge’s rusted wreckage is gone, but a thorny legal dispute lingers: Was it an act of God or corporate negligence that sent the barge crashing into the neighborhood?

Lawyers for a group of Lower 9th Ward residents blame the barge’s owner, Ingram Barge Co. of Nashville, for the destruction. The company, meanwhile, is seeking to limit its liability for any damage that its barge may have caused.

Case divided into phases

U.S. District Judge Helen Berrigan, who is presiding over the barge litigation, has divided the case into phases. A trial started Monday for the first phase, which focuses on a narrow legal question: Did Ingram’s management have any “knowledge or privity” of alleged acts of negligence that could have caused damage from the barge?

David Sehrt, senior vice president and chief operations office for Ingram, testified Monday that the company wasn’t responsible for properly mooring the barge.

“If barges are in the care of customers, it is their responsibility to make sure they are safely moored,” he said.

Barge had been unloaded

In this case, Zito Fleeting delivered the barge to a marine terminal in New Orleans operated by Lafarge North America. Lafarge workers finished unloading cement from the barge early on Aug. 27, 2005 — two days before Katrina hit — and then moored it against a dock next to another barge.

Edward Busch, who was Lafarge’s assistant terminal manager, said he left a message with Zito that the barge was ready to be picked up.

“That was it,” he said. “Business as usual.”

Busch also called a towing company and asked for the barge to be shifted so that it was in a safer position on the dock. However, Busch said he couldn’t ask for the barge to be moved out of the terminal.

Busch said a man, later identified as an Ingram employee, visited the terminal before Katrina hit to inspect the company’s barges.

“I do not know what he did,” Busch recalled.

A key issue in the case is whether the barge is to blame for the levee breach or whether it floated through an existing gap. Ingram attorney Don Haycraft said several teams of experts have concluded that the barge wasn’t responsible for the levee failure.

Ingram argues its liability shouldn’t exceed its stake in the barge after it ran aground, estimated at about $17,000.

“This is similar to the White Star Line trying to limit its value to the lifeboats after the Titanic sank,” said Brian Gilbert, a lawyer for 3,000 residents affected by the breach.

Is this a call to arms or a call to vote or both?

February 5, 2008

“It is hopefully within the citizens of the United States’ power to address the failures of our laws and agencies,” he said. “If not, it is certain that another tragedy such as this will occur again.”

~Judge Duval on his ruling concerning the levy lawsuit.  (from:  Thanks-Katrina, “This Sucks”)  You can read more about the issue from Sandy @ Levees. org.

I can see this happening again, but I can also see that action is in the hands of Americans at Levees.org.  I don’t foresee much being done on the subject.  It’s like is another billion dollar toilet seat subject or something.  People elsewhere are not really concerned with the levees in Louisiana enough to motivate politicians or local leaders into changing what has occurred. I wish more Americans would fix America.

 

Why do FEMA employees read Louisiana Questions?

November 5, 2007

Periodically, I review my referrals. You’ll never guess who surfed into Louisiana Questions…FEMA. My last post Oct. 26th provoked some comments from a FEMA contracted employee who agreed that people still need help in the aftermath of Katrina, more than two years later. All fake news conferences aside…

What’s FEMA doing surfing my blog?

FEMA surfing my blog?!!

The page FEMA viewed was What’s in da news for da parish in august 2007 when the news reported formaldehyde poisoning from FEMA trailers. Recently, I was informed that some people or organizations are selling FEMA trailers in the Northwest. I believe there was a 1-800 number posted on my website during the formaldehyde hubub so that concerned people could call FEMA with questions about their trailers. Why else would FEMA be surfing my blog? Ideas anyone?

Why were over 60% of Louisiana Nursing Homes NOT EVACUATED PRIOR to Katrina?

September 8, 2007

Owners of Louisiana Nursing Home are acquitted, Mary Foster, AP – PilotOnline.com
“…The defense was prohibited from using testimony or documents showing that the majority of nursing homes in the path of the storm 36 of 57 did not evacuate, or that there were deaths at other homes, including 22 at a New Orleans nursing home…”

See previous posts – Here.

See Levees lawsuits and then click here for previously posted info on St. Rita’s.

What happend two years later?

September 4, 2007

Two years ago on September 4th, 2005 we had no electricity. The streets were full of debris. It was hot. The trees lost all of their leaves. It looked like fall. Gunshots were fired a few blocks away. Two people were killed, “looting”. I was supposed to have surgery the day Katrina hit. That got cancelled. Red Cross was nowhere to be found, yet. Phone service was non-existant. Mail service was post poned. Grocery stores were taking cash only. Gas lines formed. The banks were closed. I didn’t see anything get any better in the following week ahead. Things just got worse.

After we finally evacuated, Louisiana said that the health insurance would carry over out of state. It didn’t. The pharmacy said that that the crisis was over now – a month later. It wasn’t. I had to fight the state for identification verification. FEMA mailed a letter to the wrong address and gave out several identification case numbers. It was a confusing mess. It took over nine months to get the SBA to respond. The SBA was a waste of my time. FEMA contracted employees, inspectors, were sent twice. This took months and months. FEMA can’t contact their contracted employees, either. They have no idea who is working on your case.

Two years later, I still haven’t had my surgery. Healthcare in Louisiana was really bad prior to Katrina. Now? I know its nearly non-existant. I still think of my children as 8 and 10, even though two years have passed. Now they have a sister. She was born nearly two years to the day of Katrina. She’s the only damn good thing that’s come out of this…aside from getting to evacuate alive.

UPDATE Sept. 5, 2007

CNN’s Ruins, deaths don’t stop family’s return – posts issues of the tourist industry capitalizing on Louisiana’s misfortune along with the USPS erasing addresses from their mail routes.  The comments are significant here as most agree the disaster tours are in bad taste.  Some of these come here people just don’t know any better.  Here are some comments on the CNN article.

AND two years later some organizations are just NOW attempting to contact me by mail.  These people suck.  They want a long application and review process in order to assist.  They can take a flying LEAP … the JERKS.  Two years?! Give me a break!

ITEMS FROM THE NEWS TWO YEARS LATER

New Orleans, two years later…
By d.K.(d.K.)
On Wednesday, August 29, it will have been two years since Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast and caused the deluge that resulted in the worst natural (and, I’d argue, man-made) disaster in the history of this country. …
A Silent Cacophony – http://asilentcacophony.blogspot.com/

Two years after Katrina
By Molly Reid
NewhouseMiji Park sits back in a chair near a giant eraser board where she and her co-workers jot down their thoughts at The Idea Village in New Orleans. Post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans a beacon for entrepreneurs NEW ORLEANS — Five. …
Reports from The Birmingham News… – http://blog.al.com/bn/

Big Easy struggles 2 years after Katrina
Two years after Hurricane Katrina, much of the “city that care forgot” still lies in ruins. But Otis Biggs’ task as he shuffles his Tarot deck this moist August day is to peer into the future to 2015, the storm’s 10th anniversary. …
star-telegram.com: Breaking News – http://www.star-telegram.com/190/index.xml

Two Years Later…What have we learned from Hurricane Katrina?
By theexpositor
Newspapers this Sunday morning across the state of Mississippi are featuring stories measuring the effects of Hurricane Katrina two years after one of the most devastating disasters in American history. On my radio program, …
The Expositor – http://theexpositor.wordpress.com

Obama Outlines Plans for New Orleans
By rikyrah(The Angry Independent)
Strengthen the Levees: Two years after Katrina and despite a billion dollars spent to strengthen the levees, New Orleans is still not protected from a major storm. The levee rebuilding has been piecemeal and disorganized, …
http://mirroronamerica.blogspot.com/

Two years after Hurricane Katrina, a new lease — and view — on life
NEW YORK — Gulf Coast financial advisers are standing on higher ground two years after Hurricane Katrina devastated that region.
InvestmentNews Current Issue Headlines – http://www.investmentnews.com

Sense of optimism takes seed
By Mike Stuckey
A recent report from the Gulf Coast Business Council, titled “Two Years After Katrina,” paints a downright rosy picture on many economic issues, noting that annual retail sales in the three-county coastal area have increased 61 percent …
Rising from Ruin – http://risingfromruin.msnbc.com/

Two years after Katrina
Two years after Katrina, several churches in the Diocese of Mississippi still struggle to rebuild:. Driving along what is left of the beachfront boulevard in Bay St. Louis, one sees a lot of green. Nature has reinvented itself; …
The Lead – http://www.episcopalcafe.com/lead/

Most Huggable: Two Years After Katrina, Carbon Trading’s Dark Side …
Two years after Katrina, New Orleans is still struggling to revive itself. The Daily Green looks into the devastation that still pervades… SolFest rocks “the greenest show on Earth.” Eco Libris tracked down Stephen Morris for a …
TreeHugger – http://www.treehugger.com/

FULL REPORT: Two years after Katrina, blueprint for a failed recovery
By Chris Kromm(Bill)
The study also features “Where did the Katrina money go?” — an in-depth analysis of federal Katrina spending since 2005. The Institute reveals that, out of the $116 billion in Katrina funds allocated, less than 30% has gone towards …
Facing South – http://southernstudies.org/facingsouth/index.asp

New Orleans Two Years After Katrina:
By Orin Kerr
This Douglas Brinkley essay is a few days old but still a very important read. Here’s a taste:…
The Volokh Conspiracy – http://volokh.com/

Two Years After Katrina, Still Struggling With Healthcare
I’ve just returned from New Orleans where I visited Share Our Strength’s partners and friends to see firsthand the progress and challenges that the city faces two years after Hurricane Katrina. Having been to the city in February I …
Sharing Witness – http://www.sharingwitness.org/

Countdown: Two Years After Katrina
By Nicole Belle
Keith Olbermann and Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter look at the major thudding with which Bush’s quick jaunt to the Gulf Coast on the 2nd anniversary of Hurricane Katrina was received and the slow recovery process for Katrina victims.
Crooks and Liars – http://www.crooksandliars.com

Q&A: Operation Photo Rescue, Two Years After Katrina
As the Gulf Coast region marks the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina this week, a photography group remains hard at work restoring family photographs damaged in the floods. Operation Photo Rescue is a network of volunteers who use …
Digg / Design / upcoming – http://digg.com/design

Two years after Katrina, New Orleans recovery stalls
NEW ORLEANS
| Two years after Hurricane Katrina almost nothing seems the same in New Orleans, but one thing has not changed — a cool regard by business for what was once a major Southern commercial center.
Business Feeds – http://www.datasystemsplus.net/

Two years after Katrina, an insurance nightmare
By bhounshell@ceip.org (Blake Hounshell)
Many people are probably wondering today why, two years after Katrina, New Orleans remains something a little less than a shining city on a hill. The news on the Big Easy’s recovery is not all bad, but it’s certainly disappointing for …
FP Passport – blogging on global… – http://blog.foreignpolicy.com

Bush: “Better days” Ahead Two Years After Katrina
President George W. Bush on Wednesday declared “better days” ahead for New Orleans despite complaints over slow rebuilding and amid lingering political fallout two years after Hurricane Katrina’s destruction. via 102.5 KIAK-FM.
US News – http://www.topix.com/us

New Orleans Residents Still Furious Two Years After Katrina
Not all residents of New Orleans are “furious”, but some of us are.
Digg / World News / upcoming – http://digg.com/world_news

Two Years After Katrina Entrepreneurs Return To New Orleans
By Jessica Stillman
Two Years After Katrina Entrepreneurs Return To New Orleans It’s two years today since Hurricane Katrina raged across the Gulf Coast, bursting levies and leaving large portions of New Orleans flooded. President Bush led a moment of …
BNET Intercom – http://blogs.bnet.com/intercom

Two Years After Katrina (The Leonard Lopate Show: Wednesday, 29
Rose’s columns that detail not just the city’s dislocation but his own. He joins Leonard to assess where New Orleans is two years after Katrina. If you want more info about ongoing relief efforts for Katrina victims, check out these …
WNYC New York Public Radio Most… – http://www.wnyc.org/

Two years after Katrina
By Sarah van Gelder(Sarah van Gelder)
There are way too many questions remaining two years after Katrina. An International Tribunal is meeting now in New Orleans to look for answers to why a moderate natural disaster became an unspeakable human tragedy that continues two …
Sarah van Gelder – http://www.yesmagazine.org/svgblog/

Two Years After Katrina: Race, Political Relavence, and Survival …
By mole333(mole333)
This diary was originally written once the lessons of Hurricane Katrina had sunk in a bit. This week is the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Two years ag…I remember watching on the weather channel as a category 5 hurricane was …
Mole’s Progressive Democrat – http://moleprogressive.blogspot.com/

Two years after Katrina…
By Nikita
http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2007/news/katrina/ http://www2.oprah.com/tows/pastshows…omocode=cnnkat.
Comic Book Resources Forums – http://forums.comicbookresources.com

Building Back: Two Years after Katrina
After Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005, many coastal Louisiana horse owners said “enough’s enough” and moved farther inland, while others stayed behind to reclaim their farms that were battered and drenched by the storm. …
TheHorse.com News – http://www.thehorse.com/

Two Years After Katrina
By Ryan
Tonight I was kicking around my place killing time before Canada battles Puerto Rico and I was amazed by an article that Alexander Wolff wrote called “Two Years After Katrina.” The article is phenomenal and makes it worth buying this …
HoopsAddict.com – http://hoopsaddict.com

NOLA: 2 years on article compilation
By hupcollective(hupcollective)
“Two years after Katrina, our nation has an opportunity to change course and demonstrate its sincere commitment to those being left behind in the faltering recovery,” says Sue Sturgis, a co-author of the full report. …
hupcollective – http://hupcollective.livejournal.com/

Hurricane Katrina: Two Years Later
By vjack(vjack)
Two years after Katrina, less than half of previous New Orleans residents have returned. Those who have remain concerned about the levees. There is a palpable and realistic fear that this could happen again. …
Atheist Revolution – http://atheistrevolution.blogspot.com/

Q&A: Operation Photo Rescue, Two Years After Katrina
As the Gulf Coast region marks the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina this week, a photography group remains hard at work restoring family photographs damaged in the floods. via Photo District News.
Photography News – http://www.topix.com/arts/photography

New Orleans, Drop Dead (two years after katrina and thousands are ...
By angryindian
New Orleans, Drop Dead (two years after katrina and thousands are still without homes_new. I guess I’m really a hard-hearted person, but as a survivor of Florida’s Hurricane Charley, which tore my roof off and forced me to spend many …
The News is NowPublic.com – NowPublic… – http://www.nowpublic.com

After Katrina, and after Hugo, and after Andrew…
By Fausta(Fausta)
Two years after Andrew hit journalists weren’t going to Florida to interview people whose rent was still being paid by FEMA. Interestingly, a large influx of illegal labor went to work in the rebuilding effort after Andrew, Hugo, …
Fausta’s blog – http://faustasblog.com/

Two Years After Katrina, Billions in Relief Funds Are Missing
By bubba2
Less than 42% of the money set aside has even been spent, much less gotten to those most in need. Channel: Do No Evil Tags: hurricane Katrina Gulf Coast long term recovery missing relief funds Bush.
Netscape.com Do No Evil Stories – http://www.netscape.com

Kinship Circle: [GULF COAST] Two Years And Still Counting
By Kelly
Unbelievably, nearly two months after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, animals are still being found in houses. (November 2005). Kinship Circle – 2007-09-01 – 07 – Don Corsmeier of KAT 5. PHOTO: Rescue volunteer Don Corsmeier rides in …
easyVegan.info – http://www.easyvegan.info

New Orleans: Two Years After Hurricane Katrina
It’s now been two years since the destruction of New Orleans caused by defective flood protection built by the US Army Corps of Engineers following Hurricane Katrina. Check out the video of the “progress.”
Digg / upcoming – http://digg.com/

KATRINA
By Ann
-One year after the disaster there were still approximately 100000 people still living in more than 38000 FEMA-provided trailers. Two years ago, Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. In the days following the …
BEAUTIFUL, ALSO, ARE THE SOULS… – http://kathmanduk2.wordpress.com

Two years after Katrina, New Orleans job recovery stalls
Two years after Hurricane Katrina almost nothing seems the same in New Orleans, but one thing has not changed – a cool regard by business for what was once a major Southern commercial center.
http://www.LoHud.com

Hurricane Felix: The 8th Category 5 Atlantic Storm in Just 5 Years
By Dan
There have now been eight Category 5 Atlantic hurricanes in the past five years (Isabel, Ivan, Emily, Katrina, Rita, Wilma, Dean, Felix); There have been two Atlantic Category 5s so far this year; only three other seasons have had more …
The Daily Green – http://www.thedailygreen.com

Racism and Criminal Justice in New Orleans
By jodietonita
Two Years Post-Katrina: Racism and Criminal Justice in New Orleans By Jordan Flaherty August 29, 2007. Two years after the devastation of New Orleans highlighted racism and inequality in the US, the disaster continues. …
She muses – http://shemuses.net

MediaStorm: Finding the Way Home: Two Years After Katrina by …
MediaStorm: Finding the Way Home: Two Years After Katrina
by Brenda Ann Kenneally.
While Seated (2point8 linklog) – http://whileseated.tumblr.com/

FROM NY TIMES:
But two years after Hurricane Katrina hit, Ms. Cassin and her husband, Joseph, are still stranded far from home; their insurer has offered them just $41000. Emile J. Labat III, a funeral home owner and real estate investor, …
http://defendneworleans.tumblr.com/

Katrina and New Orleans Demographics
By johnibii
Two years after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina we have an opportunity to look at how the victims and displaced responded in a crisis. A Vietnamese-American friend who lives in New Orleans said to me: “Mother fled North Vietnam …
Peace and Freedom II – http://johnibii.wordpress.com

Who cares for the welfare of the elderly of Louisiana?

August 11, 2007

Cheryl Martin, God Bless You!

Article(s) to read first:  Levees-Lawsuits and especially one from Victor Hull at St. Pete Beach, “Care facilities lack buses for evacuation”

“… Representatives from Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia and other states agreed. They also cited communicating after a disaster, when cell phones and land lines typically fail, and deciding when to call for evacuations as other major hurricane challenges facing nursing homes..”

Find Law for Corporate Counsel reported on Friday, August 10, 2007 concerning Lafon Nursing Home. It was the first article I’ve found on Lafon.

Katrina Suit Defendant Must Disclose Nursing Home Residents’ Info

By KEVIN MCVEIGH, ESQ., Andrews Publications Staff Writer
The owner of a New Orleans nursing home sued over the deaths of 22 residents during Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath must disclose the names and home addresses of all people who were living there when the storm hit, a federal judge has ruled.

U.S. District Judge Lance M. Africk ruled that disclosure of the residents’ identities does not violate Louisiana’s health care provider-patient privilege, because the information is necessary to determine whether the federal courts may continue to exercise jurisdiction over the class-action lawsuit against the Lafon Nursing Home of the Holy Family. Cheryl Martin, who filed the suit, said she will use the information to show that more than two-thirds of the surviving residents and victims’ families are Louisiana citizens, thus making the case a “local controversy” over which Judge Africk may decline jurisdiction under the federal Class Action Fairness Act.

Martin’s mother, Ida Antoine, was one of 22 residents who died at Lafon in the days following Katrina.

Lafon, a Roman Catholic facility run by the Sisters of the Holy Family in eastern New Orleans, housed 130 elderly residents in 81 rooms at the time of the hurricane, according to the Washington Post.

Martin filed suit July 20, 2006, in the Orleans Parish Civil District Court, seeking to represent a class consisting of all facility residents and visitors who suffered injury or died as a result of conditions at the home during and after Katrina.

She alleges that Lafon failed to evacuate the residents before the storm hit and disregarding warnings and the mandatory evacuation order New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin issued Aug. 27, 2005.

The storm hit two days later and cut the facility’s electrical power, which combined with the extreme heat to cause “unreasonably dangerous conditions” at the home, the suit says.

Lafon removed the case to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana in August 2006 based on the Class Action Fairness Act.

The 2005 law provides federal courts with original jurisdiction over all class actions in which the amount in controversy exceeds $5 million and at least one class member lives in a different state from the defendant.

Martin asked the court to return the case to the Louisiana state court, citing the law’s “local controversy” exception.

In January Judge Africk refused to remand the case, ruling that Martin had failed to provide any evidence that two-thirds of the proposed class members are Louisiana citizens, as required by the exception.

However, he said Martin could refile her motion once she conducted discovery of the class members’ domicile.

Martin served Lafon with discovery requests seeking the identities and addresses of all potential class members. Lafon responded that the information was privileged.

In May Magistrate Judge Karen Wells Roby ordered an alternative to discovery under which Lafon will submit names, addresses and next-of-kin information to the court, and the court will send questionnaires to potential class members.

The court will then review the results to determine the class members’ domicile.

Lafon filed a motion to set aside the order, arguing that Judge Roby refused to apply Louisiana’s health care provider-patient privilege, which expressly prohibits the disclosure of the private information of patients not involved in the litigation.

Lafon argued that the state privilege is applicable since the case involves only state law negligence claims.

Judge Africk agreed that the magistrate erred by not applying the state health care provider-patient privilege. However, he said the state privilege does not bar discovery of medical records in cases where courts determine that the interests of justice are served by the records’ release.

Any exception to the privilege should be narrowly tailored and should extend only to necessary and relevant information, the judge said.

He found that disclosure of residents’ identifying information is necessary to determine the jurisdiction issue and for Martin to fulfill her duties as lead plaintiff by notifying all potential class members.

“Releasing this information presents a de minimis intrusion into the patients’ privacy, which is offset by the potential benefit that plaintiff’s lawsuit may provide,” Judge Africk wrote.

To comment, ask questions or contribute articles, contact West.Andrews.Editor@Thomson.com.


Martin et al. v. Lafon Nursing Facility of the Holy Family Inc., No. 06-5108, 2007 WL 2228633 (E.D. La. July 31, 2007).
Nursing Home Litigation Reporter
Volume 10, Issue 04
08/10/2007
Copyright 2007
West, a Thomson business. All Rights Reserved.

See Also: Martin et al. v. Lafon Nursing Facility of the Holy Family Inc., No. 06-5108, 2007 WL 2228633 (E.D. La. July 31, 2007).
Nursing Home Litigation Reporter
Volume 10, Issue 04
08/10/2007
http://west.thomson.com/product/40211158/product.asp

The Fight Moves Forward!

And from Atlanta Daily Report there is news about St. Rita’s.

Monday, August 13, 2007
Couple faces trial in wake of Katrina
Nursing home owners accused of negligent homicide, cruelty to elderly after flooding leaves residents dead

TWO YEARS AFTER Hurricane Katrina killed more than 1,400 people, the only individuals charged with any of those deaths will go on trial Monday.

Salvador and Mabel Mangano, owners of St. Rita’s Nursing Home in St. Bernard Parish, where flood waters left the dead amid mud and wheelchairs, are accused of 35 counts of negligent homicide and 24 counts of cruelty to the elderly or infirm.

The combined maximum sentence for each defendant would be 415 years in prison. The trial is expected to last at least three weeks.

The trial was moved to St. Francisville, about 100 miles northwest of New Orleans. Prosecutors, defense lawyers and state District Judge Jerome Winsberg agreed that assembling a jury would be difficult in St. Bernard. The New Orleans suburb was devastated when Katrina struck Aug. 29, 2005 and its population has been slow to return. Only six jurors are required but their verdict must be unanimous.

Prosecutors charge the Manganos’ refusal to evacuate St. Rita’s residents before the storm was a criminal act.

A mandatory evacuation order was issued the day before Katrina hit. Forecasters had predicted a 21-foot storm surge would hit St. Bernard. Of five nursing homes in the parish, only St. Rita’s was not evacuated.

St. Rita’s has been closed since Katrina and the Manganos say they have no plan to reopen the nursing home.

Speaking before Winsberg imposed a gag order, Jim Cobb, lawyer for the Manganos, said state law did not require nursing homes to comply with mandatory evacuation orders. A report compiled by the Louisiana Nursing Home Association, a trade group, showed 36 of 57 nursing homes in the New Orleans area were not evacuated as Katrina approached.

St. Rita’s was built 20 years ago, and the location had not flooded since. However, during that period no hurricane even close to Katrina’s strength had made landfall in the parish, which is ringed by waterways connected to the Gulf of Mexico.

The Manganos say the area didn’t even flood when Hurricane Betsy struck in 1965.

That history, they say, was the basis for their decision to ride out Katrina in the one-story building rather than evacuate, Cobb said.

“We’re talking frail people, people with special needs, people who would be at risk during an evacuation,” Cobb said. “The Manganos thought they were saving lives by sheltering in place.”

The couple, in their 60s, was so certain St. Rita’s was safe that they invited relatives, staffers and others to shelter there. About 30 people, including the Mangano’s children, accepted the offer, the Manganos say.

As the storm subsided, it appeared St. Rita’s was safe—the roof was tight, the parking lot was dry. But broken levees soon brought a torrent of water that over a 20-minute period flooded the building almost to the ceiling.

The Manganos and staff managed to rescue about 28 patients, floating some out windows to save them. Other rescuers arrived later that day but the bodies remained in the building for up to 10 days. No one other than patients died at St. Rita’s.

The defense contends that because of government negligence, including faulty levees that broke during Katrina, the Manganos could not have known about the potential for flooding in advance.

Among the witnesses defense attorneys have subpoenaed are Gov. Kathleen Blanco and Lt. Gen. Carl Strock, head of the Army Corps of Engineers, which was responsible for the levees. Strock has since retired.

The defense wants Strock to repeat his statement at a news conference in June 2006 that defective levee design was the corps’ fault and caused most of the flooding. The federal government is fighting his subpoena.

Blanco and other public officials failed to organize an effective evacuation and help transport “at risk” people to high ground as required by state law, according to the defense.

In court filings, defense lawyers say responsibility for the tragedy can’t be determined “without evidence that the state and local authorities failed their duties.”

The Manganos sued the government this summer, saying federal, state and local officials failed to keep residents safe and evacuate vulnerable citizens as the storm approached. If the levees had not failed, they claim, the St. Rita’s residents would have been safe.

More than 30 lawsuits have been filed against the couple by patients injured at the nursing home and the families of people who died there.

The only other criminal charges connected to Katrina deaths are against six former or current New Orleans police officers who face murder or attempted murder charges from a shooting after the storm. But the is not tied to flooding or direct impact of Katrina.

At least 34 people died at Memorial Medical Center in Uptown New Orleans after the hurricane, but three women arrested by the attorney general’s office will not stand trial. A grand jury refused to indict Dr. Anna Pou. Charges against nurses Lori Budo and Cheri Landry were dropped.

Twenty-two people died at Lafon Nursing Home, a facility run by nuns of the Holy Family order in eastern New Orleans. Residents were moved to the second floor as flooding began, but the home lost electricity. Rescuers did not arrive at Lafon until Sept. 1 amid a heat wave that had gripped the city.

Attorney General Charles Foti investigated the deaths at Memorial Medical Center, St. Rita’s and LaFon. The results of the LaFon investigation were turned over to the New Orleans district attorney a year ago but no action has been taken. A spokesman for District Attorney Eddie Jordan said the case remains under investigation.