Gert Town Litigation Update

The Bagneris Firm is involved in many complex litigation cases, some of which are seeking class certification. Because there are thousands of people involved in these cases, it is not possible to return every phone call to provide a status update. In an effort to keep clients informed of the status of these cases, an entire page on our website will be dedicated to providing general status updates on these cases.

Gert Town Radiation Litigation
The formal name of this case is Eric Lassair, et al. City of New Orleans, et al., United States District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana, Civil Action No. 19-11377, Division “H“. The case is pending before the Honorable Jane Triche Milazzo. The Bagneris Firm represents current and former residents, homeowners and/or business owners, members of school populations, and members of churches, who have lived, attended school, attended church, worked and/or were otherwise physically located within ten square blocks of the excavation site located in the 3400 block of Lowerline Street, near the intersection of Coolidge Court and Lowerline Streets in New Orleans, Louisiana, where hazardous radiation exposure was documented by the U.S. EPA, and who were not adequately warned and/or protected from exposure to Radium-226, Radon-222 and other radioactive materials from 2013 forward by the City of New Orleans and its remediation contractors, despite knowledge of actual or potential exposure to hazardous substances, pollutants or contaminants. 
Upon information and belief, the Defendant CITY OF NEW ORLEANS was informed in 2013 of the presence of radioactive materials in the subsurface soil located at or near Lowerline Street and Edinburg Streets in New Orleans, Louisiana. This discovery was made while scanning for security threats in preparation of hosting the 2013 Superbowl in New Orleans, Louisiana. The City is further imputed with said knowledge as the source of the radiation exist within a city street and may be related to the very construction of the street by the City.    
Despite having knowledge of the presence of hazardous radioactive materials in the subsurface soil located at or near Lowerline Street in New Orleans, Louisiana, the Defendant CITY OF NEW ORLEANS took no action to warn and/or to protect Plaintiffs, other residents or other business owners of the presence of soil contamination, the risk of exposure to Radium-226, Radon-222, and other radioactive materials; the reasonable steps to take in an emergency when exposed; the health effects that are common to exposure; how a person can tell if they have been exposed; and short and/or long term health effects associated with exposure to Radium-226, Radon-222, and other radioactive materials. The discovery of a hazardous condition was intentionally secreted and concealed from the public, as documented in internal communications including emails and correspondence with other federal and state governmental agencies. Despite having knowledge that elevated radioactive activity was registered above the roadway surface several times above both background and above action levels, the City showed a callous disregard for the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of New Orleans whom they took an oath to protect and serve. A few examples of the breach of this duty are: 1) the City’s failure to close the street off and to secure it in a way to stop the ingress and egress of vehicle and pedestrian traffic; 2) the City’s failure to post adequate warnings regarding the dangerous nature of the remediation effort and the presence of toxins sitting in a residential neighborhood; the City’s issuance of residential renovation permits which placed people within feet of a remediation effort and exposed them to hazardous toxins; the City’s failure to tarp the work area to prevent the dispersion of dust particles into the area; the City’s failure to safeguard the catch basins during the remediation to prevent contamination of the water supply; the City’s failure to post NOPD officers at the entrance of the remediation site to prevent the ingress and egress of vehicle and pedestrian traffic; and the City’s failure to temporarily relocate residents who lived in the immediate vicinity of the remediation effort to prevent harmful exposures.
In 2018, the Defendant City decided to remediate the presence of underground material producing radiation below the road surface at the intersection of Lowerline Street and Coolidge Court. The Defendant City quietly retained environmental remediation contractors, Defendants ARS ALEUT REMEDIATION, LLC and ARS INTERNATIONAL, LLC, who arguably did not have the appropriate certifications to perform the job, in December 2018 to remove and dispose of what had been identified as hazardous material located beneath the surface of the Lowerline Street and Coolidge Court intersection. This December 18, 2018 remediation effort involved unshielding the radiation which had been partially encapsulated by the road surface and these radioactive hazardous materials were disturbed, made airborne, and otherwise moved to cause migration and dispersal which increased exposure risk and actual exposure levels in the adjacent locations which have been more particularly described in the class definition. This remediation effort took place without adequate warning to the residents and protection of the residents. The City and the ARS Defendants acted in concert relative to the December 2018 tortious conduct. 
Once remediation efforts ensued, the Defendants City and ARS entities, and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, discovered that the contamination area was larger than originally anticipated and would need to be addressed as part of a subsequent effort. This subsequent effort was identified and further described in a PowerPoint presentation made to the City in January 2019 by Defendant ARS ALEUT REMEDIATION.  The PowerPoint presentation suggested an expanded scope of the project to protect public safety, discussed the findings of Phase 1, and the proposed expanded scope of Phase 2 with associated cost. Upon information and belief, in view of the projected expense associated with the Phase 2 remediation effort, the City rejected that proposal and retained a new remediation contractor Defendant WESTON SOLUTIONS, INC.

Gert Town Radiation Case – Press Release

Eric Lassair, et al. versus New Orleans City, et al.

USDC, EDLA, Civil Action No. 19-11377, Section “H”From: Attorneys Suzette Bagneris, Madro Bandaries and Steven Rando (Counsel for the Plaintiffs)

On July 17, 2020, the Honorable Jane Triche Milazzo issued a Judgment in favor of the City of New Orleans, ARS Aleut Remediation, LLC and ARS International, LLC DISMISSING WITH PREJUDICE all of the Plaintiffs’ claims. In a four page Order and Reasons (which included a signature page), the Court stated that the Plaintiffs alleged that the Defendants breached their duty to warn, protect and inform Plaintiffs of the risk of exposure to hazardous materials; however, the Plaintiffs do not point to any federal regulation violated by Defendants and do not purport to allege the amount of radiation to which they believe they were exposed.

To the contrary, Plaintiffs’ attorneys assert that they specifically pled violations of the Price Anderson Act “PAA” as the federal regulation violated and Plaintiffs’ pleadings. Plaintiffs attached a US EPA document to their First Amended Petition which stated exactly where and how much radioactive material was excavated from the soil. It does not get more specific than that. Plaintiffs fully intend to appeal the Judge’s dismissal of this case.

“The Court’s Judgment is consistent with institutional and systemic disregard shown for the health, safety and welfare of poor and minority communities in America. The affluent in America are able to work things out on the golf course, while poor and minority communities attempt to address wrongs in the courtroom only to have doors of opportunity slammed in their faces before their case can even begin. These Plaintiffs did not even get a chance to conduct any discovery regarding the facts. It’s a shame that your zip code still determines your level of justice in America,” said Attorney Suzette Bagneris.