Immunity for FEMA Over Toxic Trailers?
This might seem like ancient history to many people, but the folks down in New Orleans won’t be forgetting the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina any time soon. There are still parts of that beautiful city that are moldering piles of wreckage.
While the hurricanes themselves were natural disasters, what happened immediately after was one of the most shameful human disasters America had ever witnessed. You had government at its most incompetent in the performance of Mike Brown, a man who should never had been in charge of such an important federal agency as FEMA, and you had big insurance at its most heartless, as State Farm and other major property insurers tripped all over themselves to issue blanket claim denials to practically the whole Gulf Coast, regardless of whether or not the cause of the claims were flooding or wind.
You had people rotting for days in the football stadium, complete with no food, barely any water and overflowing toilets. You had people in nursing homes and hospitals dying in their beds because nobody could organize the parties necessary to get to them and evacuate them. You had an entire generation of New Orleans citizens suddenly rendered homeless and jobless while the government agency that is supposed to react quickly and with professionalism sat on their hands and wondered what to do.
And to top it all off, they put the health of evacuees even further at risk by asking them to live in a trailer that contains a toxic and dangerous substance.
So how on earth can they possess the guts to ask for immunity? For one thing, aside from being excoriated in the press, nobody at FEMA has been truly brought to account for their actions. Mike Brown resigned, and presumably went back to running equestrian shows, and that was the end of that. With such a mild spate of consequences, why wouldn’t FEMA ask for immunity?
Another reason for an immunity plea is that the current state of the Judiciary is one that is not tort friendly. With many of the courts leaning towards the rights of businesses rather than the rights of the citizens, FEMA probably feels confident that that they will get what they want through delays and appeals. Besides, at the top of the judicial ladder (if it has to go that far) is the U.S. Supreme Court, who very recently made it perfectly clear where they stand on torts.
The end result of this case was that the Supreme Court drastically reduced the punitive damages that were to be paid by Exxon. With the business friendly mindset firmly in place within the Supreme Court and the rest of the judiciary, it is no real surprise that FEMA feels comfortable in asking for immunity. It is appalling, but it is not surprising.
These current circumstances serve to remind us that having experienced legal representation is an absolutely crucial part of your injury case. At Klemick and Gampel, we work on South Florida personal injury cases, and that’s all. Injury law is a very specific area, and hiring an attorney without injury experience can end your case before it begins, especially if the case involves a faulty product. The current political leanings of the judiciary reinforce the importance of courtroom experience.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, contact the Miami offices of Klemick and Gampel today.