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The Current: Another lawsuit filed against LCG in controversial project

Lafayette Parish Courthouse
Posted at 12:54 PM, Feb 17, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-17 13:54:22-05

Lafayette Consolidated Government faces another lawsuit connected with the removal of spoil bank levees on the Vermilion River in St. Martin Parish last year, The Current is reporting.

Ed Francez, a one-third co-owner of the property who was cut out of LCG’s land purchase, filed suit Thursday for damages, the newspaper reports.

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 LCG already had filed for a permit at a different location with the Corps; that permit application was withdrawn after St. Martin told the Corps that no parish permits for it would be granted.

LCG filed suit in state court, asking a judge to rule that the project was done properly. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had the suit removed to federal court, which is where it was dismissed last summer - with regard to St. Martin Parish. The suit against the corps remains, but corps also has asked the court to dismiss the case. LCG has been allowed to try to amend their suit one more time. The most recent filings in the case were in November, records show.

After the federal case against St. Martin Parish was dismissed, St. Martin Parish Government filed suit over the project in St. Martin Parish, records show.

In the most recent lawsuit, Francez and his wife Cheryl claim a portion of their land along the Vermilion River was purchased without the City Council’s legal authority by LCG in February 2022 and are asking a 15th Judicial District Court judge to determine damages. The suit also says the levee LCG destroyed was vital to flood prevention in St. Martin Parish and that removal has robbed Ed Francez of a lifelong hobby of hunting and fishing on the property, which once belonged to his grandfather, The Current reports.

“The other co-owners had a right to sell the property if they wished, but Lafayette Consolidated Government doesn’t have the right to just decide — without notice, consent, due process of law — to just destroy it, which is what they did,” attorney Jim Gates of Opelousas, who is representing the Francez family, told the newspaper. “I couldn’t wrap my mind around what they had done to that property when I was out there last fall.”

To read the rest of The Current story, with all the details, click here.