Agriculture Street Landfill Class Action Lawsuit Update

This case is entitled John Johnson, et al. versus Orleans Parish School Board, et al., Civil District Court, No. 93-14333 and consolidated cases, Division “J”. This case involves a neighborhood located in the 9th ward of New Orleans that was built atop a toxic waste dump. The federal government confirmed the danger posed by the neighborhood from exposure to 149 contaminants, including 49 which caused cancer, in 1994 when it declared the community a Superfund site (one of the most contaminated sites in the United States.) The residents, led by Attorney Suzette Bagneris, filed a lawsuit against the City of New Orleans, Housing Authority of New Orleans (and its insurers), and Orleans Parish School Board who developed homes, an elementary school, a public housing development, housing for the elderly, and businesses atop the landfill with the knowledge that the soil was contaminated.

In 2006, former Judge Nadine Ramsey ruled in their favor after a very extension trial and order the City, the School Board, HANO, and four insurers of the housing authority to pay the residents, school children, school employees, and business owners for emotional distress and property damages. Judge Ramsey blasted the city for lying to the residents and doing “virtually nothing to address the fact that there are citizens of this city, in particular, children, the most vulnerable of the population, living on a toxic waste dump,” Ramsey wrote. It was not the plaintiffs who developed low-income housing and a school on a former landfill. They were given the promise of the American Dream of homeownership wrapped in a poisonous box.

After countless appeals by the Defendants, the insurers were able to get a ruling decreasing the amount of available insurance for HANO’s insurance from an unlimited pot to only $14 million. The $14 million was disbursed using guidelines set by the Court (then Judge Tiffany Chase).

For years, the Plaintiffs’ Counsel has been trying to chase down the remainder of the money. The City and OPSB have never paid a dime.  On November 2, 2021, at 9:30 a.m., Judge D. Nicole Sheppard, the Judge who is now presiding over this Class Action, will consider a Motion for Summary Judgment filed by the Plaintiffs to get this matter moving towards a resolution. You are not required to attend the hearing.