Judge approves $25M Katrina settlement

Alejandro de los Rios Jul. 26, 2011, 10:00am

NEW ORLEANS (Legal Newsline) - Orleans Parish Chief Judge Rosemary Ledet has given preliminary approval to a $25 million settlement in a class action lawsuit against a New Orleans hospital that flooded following during hurricane Katrina.

The settlement was reached between Tenet Healthare Corp and its subsidiaries, which owned the Memorial Medical Center in New Orleans, and a class of plaintiffs who were patients or family of people who died in the hospital during the storm.

An official number of plaintiffs has not been disclosed, but the lawsuit states there were some 187 patients and 800 visitors who were in the hospital during and after the storm.

The lawsuit claimed that Tenet was liable for failing to adequately prepare the hospital for flooding before Katrina despite warnings from the hospital's maintenance staff.

Tenets backup power failed after the federal levees in New Orleans were breached by floodwaters and inundated the streets surrounding the hospital.

There were 45 patients that died during the calamity and doctors later admitted to having used euthanasia on patients, but no criminal charges were brought.

According to court documents, Tenet had argued that the dangerous environment at the hospital was a result of the failed levees and shoddy government response to the storm.

Tenet staff spent several days urgently seeking help from several federal agencies including the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Coast Guard.

The settlement releases Tenet and its partners from all liability.

Ledet called the agreement "fair, reasonable and adequate" when she approved it July 21 in Orleans Parish Civil District Court.

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