Wednesday, January 9, 2008


The number above represents the amount of damages one Hurricane Katrina victim is claiming against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Say it with me now: three quadrillion, fourteen trillion, one hundred seventy billion, three hundred eight-nine million, one hundred seventy-six thousand, four hundred ten dollars. Wow.

As the article suggests, this and other staggering claims for loss of property, loss of life, and anguish are probably a combination of protests and legitimate claims. I can't personally imagine the amount of damages I'd claim if my entire life was destroyed, so I won't be the guy to claim something along the lines of lawsuit fraud.

For the legal nerds, this has got to bring up some interesting sovereign immunity issues, and probably some issues that political nerds will enjoy as well. My question to both types of nerds is this: to what extent does the federal government open itself to suit when it ensures the safety of an entire city? You can't sue the government for retroactive relief unless it consents, but doesn't the situation in New Orleans shock the conscience and make you question what the federal government should owe these folks?

As an aside, I really hate the 11th Amendment and the jurisprudence that arose around it. It strikes me as a throw-back feudal notions of government supremacy that I don't think should be carried forward to a democratic society. I must also admit that I don't know a lot about federal sovereign immunity, but I do think that in this context it has a very, shall we say, meaty and consequential application. As I said to Dews when he sent me this story (thanks SayHey), law school students will soon be reading about the Hurricane Katrina cases in law school, just like they read about the Civil Rights cases.

Also, Rickey Henderson is not a first ballot HOFer.

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