Attorneys for Louisiana ratepayers claiming Entergy companies failed to maintain its distribution and transmissions systems as required by law and despite ratepayer increases to harden the system during severe storms have documented Tuesday that the company has “chopped up” some of the evidence of its failed infrastructure.
In particular, as part of the investigation, the attorneys and their experts went to the site of the large tower failure near the Avondale Shipyard, with drones, only to find that the large tower is no longer there.
The site of the large tower which delivered the main power lines to the metro New Orleans area was also physically examined by Attorney Juan LaFonta and others.
"It's interesting that while the residents of New Orleans can't get their garbage or debris picked up, Entergy can trash an entire tower," said Attorney Andrew Jacoby. “The citizens of Louisiana and the City Council needs to know where the tower is now.”
“It is clear that Entergy is doing what all large corporate actors do when charged with gross negligence,” said Attorney Stuart Smith. “They threaten, they hide, they play a complicated shell game to protect their profits and avoid being held accountable.”
Ironically, the New Orleans City Council, Entergy New Orleans chief regulator, is held a hearing today on Entergy’s proposals to merge its operations in order to gain a more favorable regulator than the City.
“Their actions are reprehensible. They are conspiring to limit their liability because they understand their exposure in failing to address the deficiencies in their infrastructure,” said Mr. Smith, referring to a 2010 study by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, a 2007 “Hardening Study", and a 2016 “Resilience Plan”. “The law is very clear as to the minimum standards required of companies such as Entergy. These minimum standards were violated.”
Mr. LaFonta said the phones have been ringing off the hook since the filing of the class action lawsuit against Entergy for citizens and residents of Louisiana injured by the company’s failure to transmit power to its customers despite multiple studies and reports calling for the power company to strengthen its aging infrastructure in light of storms, climate change and despite ratepayer increases for such actions.
Plaintiffs include individuals like Lexie Keys of Marrero whose home was supposed to be a priority ‘reconnect’ after a power failure due to dialysis equipment required to maintain the life of her mother, whom she cares for. Instead, Ms. Keys had to evacuate to Texas and find alternative housing, which the combined salaries of all in her household cannot sustain. Another plaintiff, according to Mr. LaFonta, died from heat exposure when the power failed at the nursing home shelter to which the person was evacuated.
“We are going to fight for the interests of Louisiana’s people,” said Mr. LaFonta. “We are standing up for Louisiana residents and businesses who have been injured as a result of Entergy’s negligence and failure to transmit energy to its customers. The scope of the lawsuit is meant to protect all citizens of Louisiana, from the families who have lost a freezer of food, to businesses who have been shuttered as a result of power loss in hard hit communities.”
Mr. Smith and Jacoby said the legal team has retained experts necessary to aide them in holding Entergy accountable. This lawsuit only covers people who are residents and citizens of the State of Louisiana. For information about the lawsuit, call Mr. LaFonta at 504-323-6049.
The lawyers recommend that residents impacted by the power failure should keep a record of expenses and other documentation related to the scope of their damages. They also suggest residents and business owners keep a diary of notes or a computer journal about how the conditions have affected them from the loss of power.
“This records and notes will be important if called for testimony,” said Mr. Smith.