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St. Martin attorney: Now the truth can come out

U.S. Western District Courthouse
Posted at 8:13 AM, Mar 16, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-16 09:13:29-04

On Wednesday, a federal magistrate recommended dismissal of the fourth version of a Lafayette City-Parish lawsuit over an LCG drainage project in St. Martin Parish.

Today, the attorney for St. Martin Parish said the final dismissal of the suit will pave the way for the rest of the story.

"We're very pleased with the result," said Steven M. Oxenhandler of Gold Weems Bruser Sues & Rundel, St. Martin Parish's attorneys. "Now the truth will be told about what really happened and why LCG came out in the middle night to remove the spoil bank. The truth will be told."

We reached out to LCG for a comment as well, but as a rule they don't comment on pending legal matters.

LCG can object to the magistrate's recommendation, which now goes to the federal judge overseeing the case. If the judge confirms the recommendation, the case will be dismissed with prejudice.

You can read it for yourself by scrolling down.

At issue is a project that LCG already has completed in St. Martin Parish, which removed decades-old levees on property partially owned by LCG. St. Martin Parish officials said that LCG did the project in the dark of night, and without permits from either the parish or the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. LCG already had filed for a permit at a different location with the Corps; that permit application was withdrawn after St. Martin told the Corps that no parish permits for it would be granted.

Court records have revealed that there are numerous federal investigations into the project, including one by the Corps and one by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. LCG's drainage projects also are reportedly the subject of investigations by the state Legislative Auditor, a private firm hired by the City Council and the FBI.

This case began when LCG filed suit in state court, asking a judge to rule that the St. Martin Parish project was done properly. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had it removed to federal court, which is where it was dismissed for the first time last summer with regard to St. Martin Parish. The suit against the corps remains, but the corps also has filed a Motion to Dismiss.

To read about the first dismissal of LCG's claim against St. Martin Parish, click here. The day after that suit was dismissed, St. Martin Parish filed suit against LCG in state court, asking a judge to order LCG to restore the spoil banks it removed. To read about that, click here.

Here's the magistrate's report and recommendation: