Federal arbitration board orders FEMA to pay New Orleans Katrina responders

[JURIST] The US Civilian Board of Contract Appeals [official website] has ordered [text, PDF] the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)to pay the City of New Orleans [official websites] $10.8 million in connection to Hurricane Katrina [JURIST news archive] in 2005. The decision, issued last week, comes in response to a June 2012 request for arbitration by the City of New Orleans following a May 2012 decision by FEMA regarding:

The money reimbursement of one third of the city's regular time salary costs for its police, fire, and emergency medical services (EMS) first responders who performed emergency disaster response work during the first four months after Hurricane Katrina struck the city.
FEMA contended in a February 2012 e-mail to the City of New Orleans, and in a May 2012 decision letter, that according to pre-existing agency policy and procedure it was unable to provide funding. The Board rejected FEMA's argument, concluding that FEMA policy does not prohibit FEMA from providing reimbursement of regular pay incurred following a disaster.

Numerous legal issues have sprung up in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. In 2012 the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit [official website] ruled [JURIST report] that the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) [official website] was not liable for damages caused by canal breaches that occurred during Hurricane Katrina.The ruling overturned a March decision by the same Fifth Circuit panel, which held that the USACE was liable for the damages [JURIST report]. The appeal followed a 2009 decision [JURIST report] by the US District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana [official website] which held that the USACE made "negligent decisions" that "rested on applications of objective scientific principles and were not susceptible to policy consideration," and awarded plaintiffs approximately $720,000.

 

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