Lawyers seek class action certification for complaint

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 27, 2000

VIDALIA, La. – Attorneys for a woman suing over the condition of Ferriday’s water are seeking to have the lawsuit certified as a class action suit.

Gloria Martello, a Ferriday resident and business owner, filed suit Oct. 25, 1999, against the Town of Ferriday and engineering firm Owen and White of Baton Rouge over the condition of the town’s water.

In the lawsuit, Martello stated that a boil-water notice in effect for the town for 124 days from late August to late December caused its water customers undue stress and inconvenience.

Email newsletter signup

At the start of the boil notice, water to more than 4,000 residents and dozens of businesses was cut off for two and a half days. If the suit is certified a class action, every Ferriday water customer could join the lawsuit.

As co-plaintiffs, they would be entitled to a portion of any monetary damages awarded in the case. In Louisiana, plaintiffs cannot ask for a specific amount of monetary damages in their complaints. The suit, filed in Seventh Judicial District Court in Vidalia, also asked for the complaint to be certified as a class action.

But after depositions are finished in the case – and the last of those are being finished now – Martello attorney Chuck Norris must still file a motion asking Judge Kathy Johnson to set a hearing on certifying the suit as a class action.

&uot;There are pages and pages of Louisiana law that state what requirements a suit must meet to be certified as a class action,&uot;&160;Norris said.

In particular, the lawsuit claims that if customers affected by the water crisis – more than 1,000 households and businesses – were to file complaints separately, the number of lawsuits would be too numerous for the court system to handle.

Norris said Thursday he plans to seek the hearing in late August or early September. Other lawyers handling the case include John Hammons of Shreveport and Linda Harang of New Orleans.