Class-action hearing set for April 30

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 8, 2001

VIDALIA, La. – Defendants in a lawsuit filed over the condition of Ferriday’s water have filed motions seeking to block class certification of the lawsuit.

But as of Friday, a hearing on certifying the complaint as a class action was still set to begin April 30 in Seventh Judicial District Court, according to the Concordia Parish Clerk of Court’s Office.

Ferriday resident Gloria Martello filed the lawsuit Oct. 25, 1999, charging that a 124-day boil water notice in effect for the town in late 1999 caused water customers stress and inconvenience.

&uot;I&160;hope that it will result in better water for Ferriday, the people and myself,&uot;&160;Martello said upon filing the lawsuit. She could not be reached for comment Friday.

The complaint was filed against the Town of Ferriday; its engineering firm, Owen & White of Baton Rouge; and U.S. Filter, the manufacturer of the town’s water plant.

If the suit is certified as a class action, every Ferriday water customer – 4,000-plus residents and dozens of businesses – could join the lawsuit. As co-plaintiffs, they would be entitled to a portion of monetary damages awarded in the case.

In its motion, Owen and White charged that Martello, the owner of a restaurant in Ferriday, does not represent the average Ferriday water customer and that any damages she suffered were not typical.

The Town of Ferriday added that any inconveniences Martello suffered as the result of the boil notice were &uot;nuisance&uot; claims and that there would be no advantages to certifying the suit as a class action.

As it now stands, the hearing on class certification will be held before Judge Kathy Johnson starting at 9:30 a.m. April 30.

The court has also set aside May 1, 3 and 4 in case the hearing takes that long.