Court of Federal Claims could see 20,000 Harvey inverse condemnation cases, lead counsel appointed to steer load

By David Yates | Nov 27, 2017

HOUSTON – Following Harvey, attorneys from all over began pouring into Houston in hopes of snatching up victims affected by the purposeful release of two reservoirs.

HOUSTON – Following Harvey, attorneys from all over began pouring into Houston in hopes of snatching up victims affected by the purposeful release of two reservoirs.

The federal judge currently overseeing the lawsuits stemming from the incident was recently advised that approximately as many as 20,000 claims could be filed on behalf of property owners downstream and upstream of the reservoirs.

Lead counsel has also been appointed to help steer the mounting caseload. 

After the rain had stopped, 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 near Buffalo Bayou.

Lawyers called the intentional but necessary flooding an act of “inverse condemnation,” a legal term used when the government takes private property but fails to compensate.

The Harvey inverse condemnation cases, which could be worth billions, are being funneled into in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, which is authorized to hear primarily money claims founded upon the U.S. Constitution.

On Nov. 20, Federal Claims Chief Judge Susan G. Braden issued four orders appointing groups of counsel in the cases, court records show.

Attorneys appointed for downstream claims include: 

- William Consovoy, founding partner of the D.C. law firm Consovoy, McCarthy, Park. Chicago attorney Jay Edelson recommended the firm to the court; 

- David Frederick, an adjunct law professor at the University of Texas Law School;

- Jack McGehee, founding partner of the Houston law firm McGehee, Change, Barnes, Landraf;

- Plaintiff’s attorney Rand Nolen of the Houston law firm Fleming, Nolen, Jez;

- Houston attorney Derek Potts; and

- Houston attorney Richard Mithoff.

For upstream, the judge assigned:

- Ian Gershengorn, chair of Jenner & Block;

- Texas attorney Larry Vincent of Burns and Charest; and

- Plaintiff’s attorney Vuk Vujasinovic of the Houston law firm Vujansinovic & Beckcom;

- Daniel Charest, founding partner of the Dallas law firm Burns and Charest;

- Charles Irvine, founding partner of the Houston law firm Irvine & Conner;

- Larry Vincent also of Burns and Charest; and

- Armistead Easterby, a partner at the Houston law firm Williams Kherkher.

Upstream plaintiffs, which could number up to 16,000, claim their homes flooded after the reservoirs filled to historic levels.

The downstream plaintiffs, which could number up to 4,000, were damaged when water was released from the reservoirs.

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