Lawsuit pending appeal

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 31, 2001

FERRIDAY, La. – On Thursday, a lawsuit seeking payment for damages allegedly resulting from a 1999 boil-water notice in Ferriday was class certified by a Seventh District judge.

But don’t look for that fact to be advertised just yet, said one of the attorneys named by the court to represent Ferriday water users in the case.

&uot;First, the defendants have a chance to appeal Judge Johnson’s decision, and they have about … 40 days to do so,&uot; said Chuck Norris of Vidalia, one of the attorneys for plaintiff Gloria Martello.

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Once the appeal is resolved, Norris and fellow attorneys Stephen Murray, Linda Harang and Julie Jacobs of New Orleans can then run a notice in local newspapers to advise the public of the fact that a class-action lawsuit has been filed, and of how they can join the lawsuit.

As of Monday, attorneys for defendants in the case – the Town of Ferriday, engineers Owen & White and town water plant manufacturer U.S. Filter – had not filed a notice of appeal with the Concordia Parish Clerk of Court’s Office.

Martello, a Ferriday resident and restaurant owner, filed the lawsuit Oct. 25, 1999 against Ferriday and engineers Owen and White. U.S. Filter, maker of Ferriday’s water plant, was later added as a defendant. A trial date has not yet been set in the case.

But if Johnson’s ruling stands, thousands of people who used Ferriday water from Aug. 20, 1999, through Dec. 22, 1999, and suffered damages as a result would be entitled to a portion of damages awarded.

Many residents and business owners would not give their opinion of the class certification Monday – but among those that did, reaction was mixed.

&uot;It would be hard for the Town of Ferriday, given their financial situation, to pay that,&uot; one water user, who asked that her name not be used.

But water user Vera Southern, who said she filters the water she uses, said she approves of Johnson’s decision.

&uot;I&160;think it’s a good thing, because we couldn’t use the water for a good long time,&uot;&160;she said. &uot;How do I&160;sign up?&uot;