HOUSTON – Perform a web search for “Hurricane Harvey lawsuit” and chances are at least half a dozen ads paid for by trial lawyers will populate the top part of the browser.
That’s nothing new, however, as Texas plaintiff’s attorneys, for the past decade or so, have advertised heavily following major storms in search of victims claiming their insurance claim was underpaid or improperly denied.
But Harvey brought more than record rains, flooding and the usual rush for insured claimants.
Not only Texas firms, but plaintiff’s attorneys from different states and lawyers with varying specializations have been pouring into Houston over the past several weeks in hopes of being part of what could morph into a multi-billion dollar case.
When Harvey finally moved on, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers opted to make controlled releases of water from the critically full Addicks and Baker reservoirs – a decision that resulted in the flooding of thousands of homes and businesses downstream of Buffalo Bayou.
Lawyers are calling the intentional but necessary flooding an act of “inverse condemnation,” a legal term describing a situation in which the government takes private property but fails to pay the compensation required by the 5th Amendment, making it so affected property owners must sue in order to obtain compensation.
Now, Google only the term “inverse condemnation” and trial lawyers ads will most certainly dominate the top spots on the searcher’s web browser.
“If you are one of the thousands of people whose homes were flooded after water was released from the reservoirs, you could potentially benefit from speaking to a knowledgeable Houston controlled flooding injury lawyer,” states one such ad paid for by the Sullo & Sullo law firm in Houston.
“If inverse condemnation of your property left you with a flooded home, after you had escaped Hurricane Harvey’s wrath, then a Sullo & Sullo Houston controlled flooding injury lawyer can work on your behalf to ensure you receive just compensation for the damages to your home.”
Court records show dozens of Harvey inverse condemnation cases have already been filed in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, which, among other duties, is authorized to hear primarily money claims founded upon the U.S. Constitution.
On Oct. 16, the Houston Chronicle reported that Jay Edelson, a Chicago class action lawyer, has already signed up hundreds of victims impacted by reservoir flooding.
Edelson, along with 124 other prominent attorneys, such as John Eddie Williams Jr., recently met with Susan Braden, the chief judge of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, who flew in from Washington to Houston to determine how to proceed with the mounting inverse condemnation suits, which will most likely be consolidated, according to the article.
Some of the other well-known area firms and lawyers in search of inverse condemnation cases include:
- The Mostyn Law Firm. “Do you live along Buffalo Bayou? Was your home flooded as a result of the controlled release of water from Addicks or Barker Reservoirs? We may be able to help!,” a clip from the firm’s website reads; and
- The Pinkerton Law Firm, which promotes on its site that claims from Hurricane Harvey will not be limited to insurance claims. “In this matter, there is also an actionable claim for inverse condemnation.”