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Current Status & Developments
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Updates will be posted as new developments occur)

 

Posted November 17, 2014

We have filed an Application for Rehearing with the Louisiana Supreme Court. The purpose of the Application is to ask the Louisiana Supreme Court to reconsider its ruling. There is no timetable for the Louisiana Supreme Court to rule on our Application.

Posted November 2, 2014

Here are links to two news articles that provide additional information about the decision made by  the Louisiana Supreme Court on October 31, 2014. Click here and here.

Posted October 31, 2014 and revised November 2.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE---October 31, 2014
 
NOPSEJUSTICE CLASS ACTION LEGAL COMMITTEE
Attorney Willie M. Zanders, Sr., Lead Counsel

Attorneys will ask the United States Supreme Court to review today’s  Louisiana Supreme Court decision which dismissed the class action lawsuit of 7,500 New Orleans Public School employees fired after Hurricane Katrina

New Orleans, Louisiana

The Louisiana Supreme Court has overturned two rulings in favor of 7,500 New Orleans Public School employees fired after Hurricane Katrina. 

On January 15, 2014, a 5-judge panel of Louisiana’s Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal unanimously ruled in favor of the class members, and upheld a June 20, 2012 District Court judgment which found that 7,500 employees were wrongfully terminated.  The Court of Appeal also ruled that Louisiana’s education officials denied the employees’ priority consideration for jobs transferred to the Recovery School District which was given control over the 107 local schools that were seized by state education officials just three months after Hurricane Katrina.  

This Class Action lawsuit applies to 7,500 New Orleans Public School employees including principals, teachers, paraprofessionals, central office administrators, secretaries, social workers and other employees who provided instructional, administrative, food services, security, maintenance, transportation and other services.

Additional statement from Willie M. Zanders, Sr., Class Members’ Lead Counsel: 

“We respectfully but strongly disagree with today’s ruling which overturned nearly nine years of case law.  However, we are encouraged by the dissenting opinion of Chief Justice Bernette Joshua Johnson who wrote:  “I agree with the Court of Appeal’s finding that the Oliver plaintiffs were deprived of their constitutionally protected property rights to be recalled to employment without due process of law,” and the fact that Associate Justice Hughes also disagreed with the Court’s ruling.

Our legal committee has decided to ask the United States Supreme Court to review today’s ruling by the Louisiana Supreme Court.  This ordeal has been an extremely stressful experience for 7,500 employees and their families who suffered after Hurricane Katrina and we must pause to pay respect to all former employees who are no longer with us, including Class Representative Gwendolyn Ridgley who passed in October 2012.  With continued prayers and moral support, our legal team will continue to fight for justice on behalf of New Orleans Public School Employees (www.NOPSEJustice.com).    

On a personal note, I attended the first meeting of the Orleans Parish School Board held in Baton Rouge, LA after Hurricane Katrina (September 15, 2005). Former Superintendent of Education Cecil Picard told school employees affected by the storm that he had requested over $2 billion from the U.S. Department of Education “to take care of teachers”.  Mr. Picard received over $500 million in federal funds, but instead of helping the employees as promised, he worked behind the scene with several members of the Orleans Parish School and the state-recruited New York consultants (Alverez & Marsal), to fire the employees. He also teamed up with BESE member Leslie Jacobs to re-define a failing public school as one with a School Performance Score (SPS) lower than 87.5 (retroactively raising the SPS from “60” to “87.5” while students, teachers and parents were under a mandatory evacuation).  State education officials gave more than $500 million in federal funds to the so-called “Recovery School District” which hired out-of-state teachers, bus drivers, food service workers, and others.  This action was both illegal and morally wrong.  Note:  To see Louisiana politics in action, click on to:  A Perfect Storm: The Takeover of New Orleans ... - Vimeo.

Posted November 2, 2014

Personal  Reflections on a Sunday Morning from Lead Counsel

On this website just two days ago, we announced that Louisiana’s highest court had ruled against our 7,500 clients terminated after Hurricane Katrina. It was Halloween on a Friday (“Black Friday”).  But at 6:52 a.m. this morning, I received some encouraging words from one of our Class Representatives or “Lead Plaintiffs” and I am compelled to share them with everyone. She wrote:

“I am of the humble opinion that no weapon formed against “US” shall prosper and in the end the victory shall be “OURS”…  With much love & respect for the entire dream team that continues to represent us.”

Another Class Representative had encouraging words: “We’re in it to win it…”. But she was also thinking of others: “Please pray for our youth and the city of New Orleans.”  I was reminded by another lead plaintiffs that “The race doesn’t go to the swiftest, but to the ones who endure.”

So, from “Black Friday” to this bright and blessed Sunday morning, I thank our dedicated, bold, and courageous lead plaintiffs. On this Sunday, I pray for the attorneys who have sacrificed so very much in this fight for justice. It is because of our clients, attorneys and God’s grace that I am inspired by a song I heard this morning: Bishop Marvin Winans sings "I Feel Like Going On" - YouTube (please click here to follow the link).

                                                                                        Willie M. Zanders, Sr.

Posted September 8, 2014

The Louisiana Supreme Court heard arguments as scheduled on September 4, 2014. The next step is for the Louisiana Supreme Court to issue its decision. There is no deadline or timetable for them to rule.

Posted July 31, 2014

The State and the School Board have received an extension of time to submit their brief. Their brief is due on August 5, 2014. Our reply brief is due on August 25, 2014.

The Louisiana Supreme Court has scheduled the date for attorneys to present oral arguments. Oral Argument is scheduled for Thursday, September 4, 2014. It is open to the public. The Louisiana Supreme Court is located at 400 Royal Street (in the old Wildlife and Fisheries Building in the French Quarter). Argument begins at 9:30 a.m. and space is limited.

There is no timetable as to when the Louisiana Supreme Court will issue its ruling.

Posted Tuesday, June 24, 2014

On June 20, 2014, the Louisiana Supreme Court announced that it granted the Writ Applications filed by OPSB and the State Defendants.

This means that the Louisiana Supreme Court will review the decision made by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal, and decide whether the Fourth Circuit’s decision was correct.

The Louisiana Supreme Court has not yet acted on our Writ Application, which seems to reinstate certain rulings made by Judge Julien.  We do not know when the Louisiana Supreme Court will act on our Application.

The next step is for OPSB and the State Defendants to file their written brief with the Louisiana Supreme Court. Their deadline is July 15.

After that, we will file our reply brief, which is due August 4, 2014.

The Louisiana Supreme Court will then schedule a date for attorneys to present oral arguments, and after that, will issue its decision.

There is currently no timetable for further action by the Louisiana Supreme Court. We will update this website with additional information as soon as we have new information to report.

Posted June 2, 2014

There are no new developments on the class action. The Louisiana Supreme Court is reviewing the case. Please see information posted on February 17, 2014, below.

On the insurance claims against the Orleans Parish School Board: On April 24, 2014 we posted information (below) on the status of our claims against OPSB's "business interruption" insurance policies. On May 21, 2014, we filed our appeal.

CORRECTION: We need to correct some incorrect information that we posted on this website on April 24, 2014. We stated that OPSB received approximately $50 million from its insurers for Katrina damage. In fact, OPSB received $127 million from its insurance policies, and $1.8 billion from FEMA to repair damages buildings.

We remind everyone: the insurance case is separate from the class action that is pending in the Louisiana Supreme Court.

As soon as there are any developments on either of the cases we will post informatiom on this website. We have no way of knowing when there will be developments.

Posted April 24, 2014

Status of the claims against OPSB’s insurance policies.

            Background: OPSB is seeking approximately $200 million from its insurers for various damages that it sustained relative to Hurricane Katrina.  OPSB has received approximately $50 million from its insurers for Katrina damages. 

            The School Board had insurance coverage for “business interruption.” However, OPSB and Recovery School District refused to consider demanding “unpaid payroll” under business interruption coverage in several insurance policies. Instead, OPSB and state education officials have fought to have all insurance proceeds used to rebuild schools, despite having received $1.8 billion from FEMA to rebuild schools.  Remember, 7,500 OPSB employees were placed on “Disaster Leave” without pay from August 29, 2005 (Hurricane Katrina) until March 24, 2006, the effective date of their termination.  We intervened in the insurance lawsuit.

            Previously, Judge Reese ordered OPSB, the State, and its insurers to place a $17 million settlement into the Registry of the Court. This means that instead of the school board immediately receiving $17 million from insurance, the $17 million was placed into a court bank account for safekeeping until there was a final decision as to who is entitled to the funds. In other words, the $17 million wasn’t given to the school board, and it wasn’t given to us. The insurance company turned the money over to the court for safekeeping.

Latest Development:

            On March 25, 2014, Honorable Judge Kern A. Reese, Judge, Civil District Court, dismissed our claim against the OPSB. We argued that OPSB’s pre-Katrina employees were “third party beneficiaries” of OPSB’s insurance contracts with several insurance companies. Judge Reese found that there was no mention of the Intervenors in any of the insurance policies, and there was no evidence of an intent to benefit them. 

            We contend that that other “third parties” not named in the insurance policies in fact received millions of dollars from OPSB for “extra expenses”.

            In the same order, Judge Reese ordered the Court to release all funds over and above $5.5 million to the Orleans Parish School Board.  The $5.5 million left in the registry of the court has not been awarded to any party. However, the $5.5 million cannot be awarded to former employees unless the Court of Appeal reverses the Trial Court. 

            We disagree with this ruling and will file an appeal with the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal.

            It is important for everyone to know that the insurance case is a separate lawsuit from our main case, which is being reviewed by the Louisiana Supreme Court.

            We sincerely thank you for your continued patience as these lawsuits work their way through our legal system.   

POSTED FEBRUARY 26, 2014

We are still pursuing OPSB insurance proceeds (see our website post dated May 15, 2013). Trial on the insurance issue was held on February 24, 2014 before Judge Kern Reese. After hearing testimony, Judge Reese gave attorneys the opportunity to submit memoranda of law in March. We will post Judge Reese’s ruling when it is issued.

***

Also: if you have moved or have a new phone number or email address, please make sure that we have your current contact information. The best way is to click “Submit a Question or Comment” on this website. There is still no deadline to provide your information to us.

And we remind everyone: the Judgment from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal is not final. Attorneys for all sides have asked the Louisiana Supreme Court to review the ruling. The State and OPSB have asked the Louisiana Supreme Court to rule in their favor. We have asked the Louisiana Supreme Court to reinstate Judge Julien’s ruling. Therefore, questions about how individual amounts will be calculated cannot be answered with certainty until there is a final ruling. Also, the final ruling in the case will apply only to employees who were tenured as of August 29, 2005 (see “Who Can Participate” on our website).

POSTED FEBRUARY 17, 2014

On February 14, 2014, the Orleans Parish School Board and the State Defendants filed papers asking the Louisiana Supreme Court to review the decision of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal and to rule in its favor.

Additionally, your Plaintiffs' Legal Committee has asked the Louisiana Supreme Court to reinstate Judge Ethel Simms Julien's ruling with respect to five years of salary and other legal issues

We will post an update on this website when the Louisiana Supreme Court acts on the Writ applications.

POSTED JANUARY 21, 2014

As everyone knows, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal has issued its ruling. However:

    This ruling does not end the case and does not entitle anyone to any immediate money.

       The Judgment is not final. The case is not concluded.

       The Judgment may be reviewed by the Louisiana Supreme Court. 

       Even after potential review by the Louisiana Supreme Court, there are still other steps which may need to occur prior to any money becoming available

       The ruling from the Court of Appeal was a significant development, but it was just one more step in our journey, which still has a significant way to go. 

POSTED JANUARY 17, 2014

We want to remind everyone that the ruling from the Court of Appeal is not a final Judgment in the case. The case will be sent back to the trial court to make changes ordereed by the Court of Appeal. After that, the State and the School Board have the right to ask the Louisiana Supreme Court to review the ruling. We ask everyone to continue to be patient (as this is not a final ruling) and to closely monitor this website for further developments.

If you have questions about the ruling, please send them to us by clicking "Submit a question or Comment" on the left side of this website. We will respond as quickly as we can, and we thank everyone for your continued patience.

POSTED JANUARY 16, 2014

Court of Appeal Issues Ruling

We are pleased to report that on January 15, 2014, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal issued its ruling in the class action lawsuit in favor of approximately 7000 public school employees who were wrongfully terminated when the State took control of 107 New Orleans public schools following Hurricane Katrina. The full text of the Court’s unanimous ruling is available here. Our press release is available here. The final portion of the ruling is printed below.

We know that class members will have questions. In the next few days and weeks we will try to address questions and provide additional information. However, we wanted to post this information as soon as we received it.

Everyone should be aware that this is not a final Judgment. The case has been sent back to the trial court. The parties have the right to seek review by the Louisiana Supreme Court. However, this is an important step, and we are pleased with the outcome.

 " On appeal, this Court:

1)         Affirms the trial court’s ruling that the Appellees’ right to due process was violated;

2)         Reverses the trial court’s findings of tortious interference of contract, partnership, and solidary liability;

               3)         Affirms the trial court’s denial of all peremptory exceptions; and

                4)         Amends the award of damages in three respects:

a)         The Orleans Parish School Board is liable to the Appellees, as a class, for two years of back pay and fringe benefits;

b)         The State is liable to teachers meeting the criteria of La. R.S. 17:1990(D)(1) for an additional one year of back pay and fringe benefits; and

c)         Annual calculations must be adjusted to reflect the applicable deductions discussed in this opinion.”

POSTED OCTOBER 24, 2013

We are still pursuing insurance proceeds. The prior court date scheduled in October of 2013 has been rescheduled for February of 2014. There is nothing further to report at this time.

POSTED SEPTEMBER 26, 2013

In connection with the May 30, 2013 oral argument before a five-judge panel of the Louisiana Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal, our June 6, 2013 update informed everyone there is no set time period for the Court to issue its ruling because the District Court trial spanned 15 days  and over 200 exhibits.

Subsequently, the Court asked all parties to provide additional information on one legal issue. The last submission was filed July 22, 2013. We respect the Appeal Court’s full review of the many complex legal issues in this case.

POSTED JUNE 6, 2013

A five-judge panel of the Louisiana Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal heard arguments presented by attorneys on May 30, 2013. Many class members attended and the courtroom was packed.  PLC members Suzette Peychaud Bagneris and Roderick “Rico” Alvendia did a superb job responding to the arguments presented by attorneys for the OPSB and State Defendants.

The Court will issue a written ruling, but there is no timetable or deadline for this to occur. It may take many months for the Court to issue its ruling. We will post the Court's ruling on this website as soon as it is issued, and there will undoubtedly be media coverage.

The Court of Appeal is not the final step in the appeal process. Attorneys will have the right to ask the Louisiana Supreme Court to review the ruling of the Court of Appeal.

Once again: there is no set time period for the Court to issue it's ruling. The District Court trial spanned 15 days, with complex legal arguments, and over 200 exhibits. Therefore, it may be many months before the Court issues its ruling.

Here is a link to the article in The Advocate, New Orleans edition:

http://theadvocate.com/home/6122099-125/appeal-hearing-case-of-post-katrina

Here is a link to the article in the Times-Picayune:

 http://www.nola.com/crime/index.ssf/2013/05/appeal_argued_in_15_billion_ka.html

 

TWO POSTS MAY 15, 2013                                                                     

COURT OF APPEAL ARGUMENT INFORMATION

Argument before a five-Judge panel of the Louisiana Court of Appeal is scheduled for Thursday, May 30, 2013. It is open to the public. The Court is located at 400 Royal Street (in the old Wildlife and Fisheries Building in the French Quarter). Argument begins at 10:00 a.m., and space is limited.

POSTED MAY 15, 2013                                                                                   INFORMATION ON STATUS OF THE INSURANCE CLAIMS

Here is the latest information on the status of the claims involving OPSB’s insurance policies.

Background: OPSB is seeking approximately $200 million from its insurers for various damages that it sustained relative to Hurricane Katrina.  OPSB has received approximately $50 million from its insurers for Katrina damages. 

The School Board had insurance coverage for “business interruption.” However, OPSB and Recovery School District refused to consider demanding “unpaid payroll” under business interruption coverage in several insurance policies. Instead, OPSB and state education officials have fought to have all insurance proceeds used to rebuild schools, despite having received $1.8 billion from FEMA to rebuild schools.  Remember, 7,500 OPSB employees were placed on “Disaster Leave” without pay from August 29, 2005 (Hurricane Katrina) until March 24, 2006, the effective date of their termination.  We successfully filed pleadings to intervene in the insurance lawsuit (OPSB v Lexington Insurance Company, et al), which will go to trial in Judge Kern Reese’s division of court in October of 2013.

Pending a full trial on the rights of OPSB and its former employees, Judge Reese ordered OPSB, the State, and its insurers to place a $17 million settlement into the Registry of the Court. This means that instead of the school board immediately receiving $17 million from insurance, the $17 million has been placed into a court bank account for safekeeping until there is a final decision as to who is entitled to the funds. In other words, the $17 million wasn’t given to the school board, and it hasn’t been given to us. The insurance company has turned the money bovver to the court for safekeeping for now.

The School Board has made repeated attempts to receive the money and to have Judge Reese’s order reversed by the Court of Appeal. However, those funds remain in the Registry of the Court.  Just this week attorneys for the OPSBs filed pleadings asking the Louisiana Supreme Court to allow them to withdraw the $17 million from the Registry of the Court prior to a full trial in October of this year.

A single insurer remains in the case with $100 million coverage in dispute.   We will continue the fight for the remaining money so that it can go to our class members.   Please check the website for updates and information. We are fighting for you!

Posted April 12, 2013

 We received notice yesterday that the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal has scheduled a date for oral argument: Thursday, May 30, 2013 at 10:00 a.m. Some media reports previously reported that it was scheduled on a different date, however, there was a scheduling conflict on that date, which explains why we did not post it on the website.

 The Court of Appeal is located at 400 Royal Street in the French Quarter. The oral argument is open to the public.

The Court of Appeal will not issue a decision on that date. The Court of Appeal will issue a written decision at a later date.

 After the Court of Appeal issues its ruling, the law allows the parties to request a rehearing, and allows the parties to ask the Louisiana Supreme Court to review the ruling.

 When will we have a final ruling in the case?

There is no timetable at this time.

 Is it too late to complete the packet?

            No, it isn’t too late. Simply click the “NOPSE Contact Form” link on this website.

Posted February 27, 2013

First, a brief summary of the developments in this lawsuit: 

A 17-day trial was held during the months of May and June of 2012.  

The Trial Court Judge (Honorable Ethel Simms Julien) ruled in favor of the tenured employees who were placed on unpaid leave in August of 2005 after Hurricane Katrina and then discharged on February 24, 2006.  

The Orleans Parish School Board, State of Louisiana, BESE and the Department of Education appealed the Judge’s ruling.

The Orleans Parish School Board and the State Defendants have filed their Memorandum of law in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal. We have filed our Reply Memorandum.

What happens next?

The State now has until March 14, 2013 to file its Reply Memorandum. 

The next step: the Court of Appeal may schedule a date for the attorneys in the case to present oral argument. This may take place this Spring, but as yet we do not have a date. 

After oral argument, the Court of Appeal will decide the case. The Court will issue a written ruling, possibly this year. 

After the Court of Appeal issues its ruling, the law allows the parties to request a rehearing, and allows the parties to ask the Louisiana Supreme Court to review the ruling. 

When will we have a final ruling in the case?

There is no timetable at this time.

Is it too late to complete the packet?

            No, it isn’t too late. Simply click the “NOPSE Contact Form” link on this website.

POSTED DECEMBER 18, 2012

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal has notified us that they have received the complete record of the trial court proceedings. This means that the Court of Appeal now has all of the exhibits introduced by all parties during the trial, and also has the entire typed transcript of the testimony of all persons who testified during the 17-day trial.

The Orleans Parish School Board and the “State Defendants” (Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, Department of Education and the State of Louisiana) must file their brief in the Court of Appeal by January 11, 2013. Our brief is due on January 31, 2013.

The Court will then schedule a date for the attorneys to present oral argument in the Court of Appeal.  We do not yet know when that will occur, but it will possibly be scheduled this Spring. 

After oral argument, the Court of Appeal will issue a ruling. That will likely take several months, and possibly longer.

 The party that loses in the Court of Appeal then has the right to ask the Louisiana Supreme Court to hear the case.

We will continue to keep you posted. There still is no deadline for class members to submit information to us.

POSTED NOVEMBER 21, 2012

There has been another very positive and important development that affects the claims of the members of the class.

As many class members are aware, at the time of the storm, the Orleans Parish School Board had several insurance policies for damage to school board property, "business interruption" and miscellaneous damages. Because of disputes regarding those claims, the Orleans Parish School Board sued several of their insurance companies. We have learned of these policies and their lawsuit, so we filed a Petition to Intervene, for the purpose of asking the Court in that lawsuit not to distribute insurance money to the school board, and to allow us to stake a claim on behalf of the 7,000+ tenured employees who were terminated after Katrina.

 On November 15, 2012 the Honorable Kern A. Reese, Judge, Civil District Court granted our Petition to Intervene.

 What does this mean?

It means that we will be allowed to become a party or litigant in the insurance case.

Does this mean that we will definitely receive insurance money?

 No. We still must prove that we are entitled to all or part of the insurance money.

 Has any money at all already been distributed to the school board? 

Yes. Some money has been distributed to cover claims of property damage to school board buildings.

Has any money at all been distributed for employees who were terminated or placed on leave after Katrina?

 No. Not a penny.

Can the school board or the insurance companies appeal Judge Reese's ruling that allows us to intervene?

 Yes.

 How long will the process take to determine if we are entitled to insurance money?

 Many, many months.

 Is it likely that we will be receiving any money soon?

 No. The School Board and the State Defendants have appealed the decision in our class action. The Court of Appeal has not yet received the record from the trial court. 

Posted October 30, 2012

The Court of Appeal has received the exhibits from the trial court. Once the Court of Appeal also receives the written transcript of the testimony, the Court of Appeal will establish the deadline for the School Board and the State Defendants to submit their written briefs stating why they believe that the trial court judge’s ruling was incorrect. The Court of Appeal will also give us a deadline to file a brief in response to the briefs filed by the school board and the State Defendants.

 

Posted October 18, 2012

IT IS WITH DEEP SORROW AND PAIN that we announce the death of Ms. Gwendolyn Ann Ridgley, one of seven “Lead Plaintiffs” in our class action lawsuit who was “called home” Tuesday night, October 16, 2012. We pray for her mother, Dorothy Ridgley and other relatives and friends.

Gwen will be missed. She was a wonderful lady.

All of us will miss Gwen’s professionalism, untiring work ethic, and contagious smile. In the words of  Class Rep. Cynthia Jordan:  “As we grieve for her and her family, we can take comfort  in knowing that the word of God says, “Absent from the body is present with the Lord.”  Minister Brenda Square who attended most of the class action trial commented: “ I am thanking God for Gwendolyn Ridgley who stepped up to represent others with grace, dignity and determination.   May God comfort her family, you and your team, as you experience His presence, guidance and wisdom during this difficult time.  Gwen's testimony will be recorded in the history books.”

Gwen has gone to a better place so as we challenge the appeal, we will also fight in court for primary and excess insurance policies which might cover the judgment rendered in this case! Gwen’s death and the death of other class members will not weaken our resolve. To the contrary, our strength has been renewed in the fight for justice for New Orleans Public School Employees.  ---NOPSEJUSTICE !   

Posted September 7, 2012

We want to respond to some rumors and confusion about the Judgment.

As everyone knows, the Judge has ruled in favor of the tenured OPSB employees and has ruled against both the school board and the State.

Because this is a class action, there were several persons who served as “class representatives.” The class representatives served a very important purpose: they led the case forward for the purpose of establishing who was liable. 

Under the procedures that courts follow in class actions, the Judge has determined how much money these class representatives are entitled to receive.

We estimate that there are approximately 6,800 persons who will be eligible to be members of the class. At a later date, the Judge will establish a procedure for all eligible class members to present information to the Court that will determine how much money each of the the remaining class members are entitled to receive. 

There is a rumor that the remaining 6,800 class members will be required to share in a pool of money that has already been set by the court. This is not accurate. There is no fixed amount of money. There is no pool. The rumor is false. 

There are rumors as to how the Court is going to determine how much money that class members will receive. These rumors are all false, because the Court has not yet issued any such rulings.

The amount that the Judge awards each class member will be in addition to the amount that the Judge has already established for the class representatives.

At a later date the Court will establish the procedure for claimants to claim money in addition to the money that has already been awarded. Each claimant will have an opportunity to present the facts surrounding his/her damages (i.e., money lost as a result of being wrongfully terminated, etc.).

There is also a rumor that claimants need to retain an attorney to represent them in individual claims. This rumor is also false. Class members are represented by attorneys that the Court has approved. These attorneys are: Willie Zanders, Suzette Bagneris, Rico Alvendia, Anthony Irpino, Juana Lombard, Clarence Roby, Larry Samuel and Walter Willard.

For the present time, until further notice, eligible class members do not need to take any action. The attorneys that the court has approved will represent the interests of all eligible class members.

There are no recent developments on the appeal. The Court is in the process of preparing the court record to be sent to the Court of Appeal. Once this is done, attorneys will file briefs.

It is still not too late to submit your contact information. Simply go to "NOPSE Contact Form" on the left column of this website page.

Posted July 13, 2012

The School Board and the State Defendants have filed their appeals.

The Orleans Parish School Board and the State Defendants have appealed the Judge’s decision, as expected.

What happens next?

The Court will now prepare the court record to be sent to the Court of Appeal. The record consists of all of the documents filed in the case, including pleadings and the exhibits, together with the written transcript of the testimony of all of the persons who testified during the 17-day trial, and arguments presented by attorneys.

After the Court of Appeal receives the transcript, the Court of Appeal will schedule deadlines for OPSB’s attorneys and the State Defendants’ attorneys to file their appeal briefs, and will schedule a deadline for us to file our brief. After that, the Court of Appeal will schedule a date for attorneys to present oral argument, which is an opportunity for attorneys to argue the case before a panel of Judges in the Court of Appeal.

After the case is argued, the Court of Appeal will issue a written decision.

How long will this process take?

This process will take many months.

What’s the latest information on the School Board’s insurance coverage?

There is nothing new to report. We expect that the court will schedule oral arguments this fall on the insurance coverage issue.

When should we expect additional information to be posted on the website?

We will post new developments as they occur.

There have been many reports in newspapers and on TV and we hear information “on the street.” How do we know if that information is accurate?

This website is the official source for information. If you hear rumors, please send us an email to ask whether the rumor is accurate.

Do class members need to do anything at this time?

No. There is no deadline to submit information at this time. We encourage everyone to monitor this website on a regular basis.  

POSTED JUNE 21, 2012

On June 20, 2012, the Honorable Ethel Simms Julien, trial court judge, ruled that the termination of over 6,800 tenured OPSB employees violated law.

We are very pleased with this development. No doubt, this is a huge milestone in what has been a long and difficult journey for hard-working and loyal school board employees who suffered great hardship because of the illegal and unjust termination after Hurricane Katrina.

We know that there will be many questions. We have tried to anticipate a few:

The Judgment states how much money that the seven class members will receive. What about everyone else? How much will everyone else receive?

In a Class Action lawsuit, the Court selects a few class members to serve as “class representatives.” These persons actively participate in each stage of the litigation acting in the best interest of the rest of the class. At trial, the class representatives testify, along with other witnesses, in the hopes of obtaining a judgment on the issue of class-wide liability (in other words, who is liable for the wrongs that were committed). They also prosecute their individual damages claims.

The class representatives in this lawsuit were successful in obtaining a class-wide judgment on the issue of liability. This means that the rest of the class members do not have to bear the burden or the expense of conducting individual trials to prove who was at fault for the wrongful termination of the class. Liability has already been established for the benefit of all class members. 

However, the Court must determine the amount of money that each person is entitled to receive on an individual basis.  This means that each class member must prove how much money he/she is entitled to receive as a monetary damages award. At a later date, the Judge will establish a procedure for determining the individual damages awards due to each of the class members. We will have more information later.

The question that will be on everyone's mind: When will we receive our money? 

The answer: More likely than not, the losing parties will exercise their right to appeal the judgment issued by Judge Julien to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal and the Louisiana Supreme Court. There is no way for us to project how long it will take for the judgment to become final after all appeals have been exhausted. As a result, it could be a very long time before anyone, including the class representatives, receives money.

Why will it take a long time?

First, because the party or parties that are not satisfied with the Judge’s ruling have the right to appeal to the Court of Appeal.  The Judgment is not final until all appeals have been completed.

Second, the Court will need to determine how much money each individual class member is entitled to receive. The amount of money must be determined on an individual basis for all class members. The Court will develop a process for the handling of a series of mini-trials to address the issue of damages.

What does an appeal involve?

The party or parties who are dissatisfied with the Judge's ruling may first ask the Judge for a new trial. This would involve filing a Motion stating why a new trial should be granted. Then, the party or parties may file a Motion for Appeal, asking the Court of Appeal to rule that Judge Julien's decision was wrong. This will involve additional memoranda of law and an oral argument before a panel of judges on the Court of Appeal. After that, the party or parties who are not satisfied have the right to ask the Louisiana Supreme Court to review the ruling from the Court of Appeal. This process takes a considerable amount of time. The Judgment is not "final" until all appeals have been concluded.

Why didn’t the seven named class representatives receive the same amount of money?

The Court considered many factors in determining fair monetary awards to each class representative. Some of the factors included consideration of the testimony of each class representative, the tax returns of each class representative, the fringe benefits of each class representative, the financial losses proven by each class representative, and the emotional distress experienced by each class representative.

Why didn't this case settle?

The parties could never reach an agreement, but we remain open to good faith settlement discussions.

How will class members know if the case is going to settle later. 

In a class action, the Judge would first approve a proposed settlement and then require a Notice to be sent to all class members. Class members would then have the opportunity to comment.

Do I need to take any action at this time?

We recommend that everyone gather all information that substantiates how much money you lost because of the termination.

Do I need to hire an attorney to represent me?

No. The Court has appointed several attorneys to represent the interest of the entire class.

What do I do with that information after I compile it?

Keep it in a safe place, for now. We will provide further direction as soon as the court develops the process.

What if I lost all my information and don't have anything?

We will be providing information later.

What if I have already provided that information to you?

Then you are one step ahead!

Why did the case take so long?

Class action lawsuits usually take longer than other cases and this case involved some new and complex legal issues.  There were no prior cases when all employees in a public school system were fired at one time.   

At the end of the case, how are we going to collect the money?

This is an issue that the Plaintiffs’ Legal Committee is considering and we will have more information in the future.

Is it too late for class members to submit information?

No. There is no deadline at the present time. However, we encourage everyone to provide us with information.

One of the media reports stated that the case was settled. Was the case settled? 

No. That media report was incorrect. The case was not settled.

We know that there will be many more questions. Please feel free to send them to us through the "Contact Us" link on this website. We hope you understand if we don't respond to everyone very quickly. We will try to post the general questions and answers as soon as we can. Needless to say, we will be "rolling up our sleeves" to respond to whatever the other side files.

Two final comments: First, PLEASE BE CAUTIOUS OF RUMORS. There is no limit to what you may hear "on the street." Also, media reports may not always be entirely accurate.  So PLEASE if you hear anything that isn't on this website, send us an email asking whether the information is true. We will try to respond to rumors as quickly as we possibly can. As a general guideline: if it isn't on the website, it probably isn't true!

Second, there is no way that we can cover all of the questions. So if we haven’t covered something, please feel free to send your question to us. We will respond and/or post the response as quickly as we can.

We recommend that everyone continue to regularly check this website.

POSTED JUNE 20, 2012

5

We have great news!  

 
Judge Ethel Simms Julien ruled today in favor of the tenured employees who were terminated following Katrina. Please click here to review the Judgment. 

Please click here to review the "Reasons for Judgment."

 
We know that there will be many questions. We will post more information not later than close of business Friday, June 22.
 

(Adobe Acrobat Reader required to view .PDF files.  Download it free here)

POSTED MAY 14, 2012

We have many emails asking whether there are any developments. There are no developments at this time. When we receive the Judgment, we will immediately post it on this website.

MARCH 5, 2012 REVISED POST

The phase of the trial to determine whether the OPSB and/or the State Defendants (BESE, State Department of Education and the State of Louisiana) are at fault has ended. The attorneys for all sides have filed post-trial submissions. The next step is for the Judge to issue a decision.

We know that there will be rumors as to when the ruling will be issued. However, there is no timetable. There may also be rumors as to what the Judge ruled. PLEASE check this website to verify any information that you hear. We will post new developments as they occur. If information isn't on the website, then it probably isn't true.

POSTED MARCH 5, 2012

The trial has ended and the attorneys for all sides have filed post-trial submissions. The next step is for the Judge to issue a decision.

We know that there will be rumors as to when the ruling will be issued. However, there is no timetable. There may also be rumors as to what the Judge ruled. PLEASE check this website to verify any information that you hear. We will post new developments as they occur. If information isn't on the website, then it probably isn't true.

Posted February 17, 2012

We have two updates to report today.

Insurance Money:

We want to again make it clear that there is no insurance money that is about to be distributed to class members.

Background: OPSB is still seeking approximately $200 million from its insurers for various damages which it sustained relative to Hurricane Katrina.  To date, OPSB has received at least $25 million from its insurers for Katrina damages (and the OPSB and the State of Louisiana are trying to divide these proceeds between them).  We are attempting to make claims for the remaining money so that it can go to our class members.  There is still no court ruling. We are continuing our efforts.

As a result of our filings in court, the Judge issued a stay order on all insurance matters. The new development is that yesterday (February 16, 2012), the Judge extended this stay order through March 2, 2012, pending hearings that will take place in early March. We urge everyone to regularly check this website for updates and information.

Deadline to submit post-trial submissions in the Oliver case:

 

The Plaintiffs and the Orleans Parish School Board have requested two additional weeks to file post-trial submissions. The Judge has granted the request.

 

As a result of the extension, the deadline for the lawyers in the case to file post-trial submissions is March 2, 2012.

 

The Judge will issue her decision after the post-trial submissions are filed. This does not mean that the decision will be made on March 2, 2012. There is no timetable.

 

We urge everyone to regularly check this website for updates and information. And…as we have been saying all along…if you hear any rumors PLEASE verify the information on the website. If it isn’t on the website, it probably isn’t accurate.

 

UPDATE POSTED JANUARY 25, 2012

 

The Court has completed the written transcript of the testimony of all persons who testified at trial.

 

The Judge has given the attorneys a deadline – February 17, 2012 – to file the final post-trial positions.

 

Following that, the Judge will issue her ruling. There is no timetable.

 

We urge everyone to regularly check this website for updates and information. And…as we have been saying all along…if you hear any rumors, PLEASE verify the information on the website. If it isn’t on the website, it probably isn’t accurate.

 

UPDATE POSTED JANUARY 6, 2012

 

There has been some confusion surrounding the issue of OPSB’s insurance coverage for its Katrina losses. We hope this website post clears some of that confusion.

First, we want to make it clear that there is no insurance money that is about to be distributed to class members.

The OPSB has been and is still seeking approximately $200 million dollars from its insurers for various damages which it sustained relative to Hurricane Katrina.  To date, the OPSB has received approximately $25 million from its insurers for Katrina damages (and the OPSB and the State of Louisiana are trying to divide these proceeds between them).  We are attempting to make claims for this money so that it can go to our class members.  However, there is no court ruling as of now, and at this time there are no proceeds for class members.  We will continue in our efforts.

It is important to understand that the OPSB’s insurers strongly dispute that the OPSB has coverage for, or is entitled to, any of the remaining $200 million.  In essence, the OPSB’s insurers claim that they owe NOTHING to the OPSB.  Thus, THERE IS CURRENTLY NO MONEY GOING TO THE OPSB OTHER THAN SOME PORTION OF THE $25 MILLION.  Moreover, there is a strong likelihood that the OPSB’s insurers will continue to maintain this position unless and until a Court or a Jury determines otherwise.  The trial relative to the OPSB’s Katrina insurance claims will not occur until the fall of 2012, at the earliest time. 

As previously posted, we have brought a “Petition for Intervention” in the OPSB’s lawsuit against its insurance companies.  We did this in order to make claims for actual and potential insurance proceeds which the OPSB has received and/or may receive in the future from its insurance companies relative to the OPSB’s Katrina claims. This could include Business Interruption insurance and seven (7) months of unpaid payroll, from August of 2005 until March 24, 2006. 

The OPSB filed several different “exceptions” or procedural objections in response to our “Petition for Intervention” claiming, among other things, that we have no right and no claim to intervene in the OPSB’s case against its insurance companies.  Recently, in December of 2011, the Judge in OPSB’s Katrina insurance case ruled on these “exceptions.”  In summary, the Judge ruled that we do have the right and have stated a proper claim to intervene in the OPSB’s Katrina insurance case.  However, the Judge also ruled that our current case (Oliver, et al. v. OPSB, et al.), which is before Judge Julien, should cover our claims to these actual/potential OPSB Katrina insurance proceeds.  As such, we were not allowed to intervene in the OPSB’s Katrina insurance case at this time, but the Judge stated he may reconsider our intervention claim after a judgment is rendered in the Oliver case.  We have filed the motion to have these two cases consolidated and we will hopefully have a decision in the near future.

To be clear, ALL THIS MEANS IS THAT WE MAY HAVE THE RIGHT TO BRING THE INTERVENTION IN OUR CURRENT CASE (Oliver, et al. v. OPSB, et al.) OR AT A FUTURE DATE IN THE OPSB’s KATRINA INSURANCE CASE.  IT DOES NOT MEAN THAT WE ARE ENTITLED TO ANY OF THE INSURANCE PROCEEDS WHICH THE OPSB HAS RECEIVED OR WHICH IT MAY RECEIVE.  THAT DETERMINATION WOULD COME AT FUTURE TIME. 

We will of course continue to post new developments on this website as they occur. We urge everyone to regularly check the website.

 

UPDATE POSTED DECEMBER 5, 2011

 

Ever since our lawsuit was filed, the Orleans Parish School Board has claimed that it didn’t have the financial ability to pay salaries or benefits to employees after Hurricane Katrina. However, the Plaintiffs’ Legal Committee has now learned that in August of 2005 when Hurricane Katrina hit, the Orleans Parish School Board had several insurance policies.  Several of these insurance policies provided coverage for property damage and “business interruption.”

 

Typically, business interruption insurance policies provide employers with compensation to cover payment of salary due to employees.

 

The Orleans Parish School Board failed to disclose to us and to the Court that it had these business interruption insurance policies.

 

Moreover, we have learned that OPSB never made a claim for employee salaries in these insurance policies.

 

The Orleans Parish School Board has filed suit against several of these insurance companies (many of you may have read about their lawsuit in the Times-Picayune) seeking money for among other things, property damage and business interruption.

 

We contend that at the least, these policies cover your salary from August 26, 2005 (the date when everyone was last paid) until March 24, 2006, when everyone in the class action was formally terminated in writing by the OPSB). As a result, we have filed a “Petition to Intervene” in OPSB’s lawsuit against their insurance companies, asking the Court to declare that your claims for salary are covered by OPSB’s business interruption insurance policies, and asking the Court not to allow the insurance companies to distribute the insurance money to anyone else until your claims for unpaid salary are considered.

 

If we are successful, it could mean that there would possibly be insurance money to cover salary from August 29, 2005 through March 24, 2006. 

 

Having said that, we anticipate that there will now be rumors that “we have settled the case” or that “everyone will receive salary from August 29, 2005 through March 24, 2006. So we want to be perfectly clear:

 

We are asking the court to rule that the business interruption insurance must cover this claim for salary. We have not yet received a ruling.

 

We have not settled the case.  This new information has nothing to do with any settlement, and if you hear any rumors about settlement, they are untrue. Moreover, because this is a class action, the case cannot be “settled” until we send Notice of a Proposed Settlement to the class, and class members have the opportunity to comment.

 

We are still pursuing damages beginning with August 29, 2005, with no end date. All this email states is that at a minimum, we contend that the insurance policies should cover the time period August 29, 2005 through March 24, 2006.

Update on transcript: The Court has told attorneys for all parties that post-trial filings are due three weeks after the transcript has been completed. The transcript has not yet been completed.

 

Update Posted November 16, 2011

We know that everyone is eagerly awaiting word of the Judgment of the trial court. However, a Judgment cannot be rendered until the transcript of the written testimony has been completed and attorneys for the parties submit post-trial pleadings. Because this was a one-month trial, we expect the written transcript to be between 5,000 and 6,000 pages long. We are awaiting a “date certain” for the transcript to be completed.  

In anticipation of the completed transcript, the Judge has already given attorneys a deadline of three (3) weeks to submit post-trial pleadings after we receive the full transcript. The Judge will render Judgment after attorneys file post-trial pleadings.

We thank you for your patience.  Please know that we continue to vigorously fight the injustice and to do everything that we can to minimize delays. In the meanwhile, the Plaintiffs’ Legal Committee extends our best wishes to everyone for a Happy Thanksgiving.

Update Posted September 14, 2011

The Times-Picayune recently reported that every class member will have the opportunity to show the court what individual losses and damages we have suffered. Is this true?

Yes. In class actions, if there is judgment in favor of the class members, and after the judgment becomes final, then individual class members will have that opportunity. The procedure will be determined by the Judge much later, after the Judgment is final (that is, after all appeals have been concluded). 

There are nearly 7,000 class members. Won’t the process of appeal, and then the  process of establishing damages, take a considerable period of time?

Yes.

How much time?

That cannot be determined at this time. 

Additional note:

First, we ask class members not to give any statements to the media (radio, television, newspapers, weeklies, etc.) This is because comments that you make can be taken out of context and can hurt not only your claim, but others’ claims. If you are contacted by reporters, we ask you to tell reporters that you will only comment with a class action attorney present. Then, send us an email.

Second, we have received emails from class members who have told us that they “heard a rumor that…” We thank you for calling rumors to our attention. (we haven’t heard one rumor yet that was true!) We ask class members to check the website before repeating information to someone else, or send us an email asking if the rumor is true. Thank you!

 

Update Posted August 9, 2011

We have received numerous requests for an update. We haven’t posted anything lately because there haven’t been any new developments.

We have filed a Motion asking the Court to establish deadlines for attorneys for both sides to file post-trial memoranda of law. However, before post-trial briefs can be filed, a transcript of the testimony from court must be prepared. Because it was a 17-day trial, the transcript will be very lengthy. We estimate that this will occur before the end of September.

We estimate that post-trial briefs will be due in late Fall.

After the transcript has been prepared and after post-trial briefs have been filed, the Judge will issue a ruling. Because of the necessary delays associated with filing post-trial briefs, we do not expect a ruling until late 2011 or early 2012.

We do not know when we will receive a ruling from the Court. Remember, the losing party has the right to appeal to the Court of Appeal, and after that, ask the Louisiana Supreme Court to review the ruling from the Court of Appeal.

Update

Posted Friday, June 24, 2011

 

On June 23, 2011, the trial phase of the case concluded, except for the submission of a deposition (as explained below) and post-trial briefs. We are extremely pleased with the information that was presented to the Judge, and we feel strongly that the evidence and testimony supports our case.

 

We know that many people have questions as to what happens next. We are in the process of preparing information to post on this website hopefully by the end of June. For now, we will answer a few questions that are on everyone’s mind:

 

What happens next?

 

1.    One of our educational experts has been out of the country and unavailable to testify during trial. He will be returning to the country in July, and we have reserved the right to submit his testimony through a deposition. The date for the deposition has not been scheduled.

 

2.    The Court Reporter will prepare the written transcript of all of the testimony.

 

3.    Attorneys for both sides will have the opportunity to submit written briefs. The Judge will establish deadlines for all counsel to file memoranda of law.

 

We will post information on this website when these events occur.

 

When will the Judge issue her decision?

 

It is not likely that the written transcript and the briefs will be completed before the end of August. There is no way at this time to know when the Judge will issue her ruling.

 

Is there a deadline for class members to submit information?

 

Not at this time.

 

We recommend that everyone regularly check the website for updates and to verify information that you may hear. If it isn't on the website, it isn't accurate.

POSTED THURSDAY, JUNE 9, 2011

We have now completed three weeks of trial. In addition to the persons named below, we have presented the testimony of Dr. Barbara Ferguson (education expert) and an economic expert, Dr. Shael Wolfson. Each of the named class representatives have completed their testimony as well.

On Monday, June 20, the State Defendants and the Orleans Parish School Board will begin presenting their case. We expect trial to end on Thursday, June 23. However, there will not be an immediate ruling from the Court, because there is a second educational expert who has been out of the country. This final piece of information will presented to the Judge in late July. We do not know at this time whether a ruling will be issued this summer, but we will post developments on this website.

There is still no deadline for class members to submit information to us.

POSTED SATURDAY, JUNE 4, 2011

Two weeks of trial have been completed. Thus far, the following persons have testified: former OPSB Compliance Officer Dr. James Lloyd, former NOPS Superintendent Ora Watson, OPSB Member Cynthia Cade, NOPS Superintendent Darryl Kilbert, former First Assistant Legislative Auditor Grover Austin, Managing Director of Alvarez & Marsal Bill Roberti, former Louisiana Department of Education Deputy Superintendent Carole Wallin, NOPS Chief Financial Officer Stan Smith, current NOPS Director of Human Resources Armand Devezin, OPSB Board member Lourdes Moran, former OPSB Board President Phyllis Landrieu, former Legislative Auditor Steve Theriot, and BESE Board Member Linda Johnson.

Next to testify (not necessarily in this order): education and economic experts, the named class representatives, plus a few others.

Trial resumes at 9:00 Monday morning, June 6. Trial will continue on Tuesday, June 7 and Wednesday, June 8, and then on Monday, June 20.

There is no deadline at this time to submit information to the Lawyers' Committee. This phase of the trial is for the purpose of determining fault and liability.

We encourage everyone to check this website on a regular basis.

 

UPDATE

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 1, 2011 7:00 pm

Following is the schedule of persons who will be testifying for the remainder of this week. Note: both the names and the order are subject to change:

Thursday, June 2:

      Steve Theriot, former Legislative Auditor

      Rev. Torin Sanders, former President, Orleans Parish School Board

      Phyllis Landrieu, former President and member, Orleans Parish School Board

Friday, June 3:

      Glenny Lee Buquet, BESE Board member

      Weegie Peabody, former BESE Executive Director

      

UPDATE

FRIDAY, MAY 27, 2011

 

Week one of testimony went very well. We are pleased with the evidence and testimony, and persons who have attended the trial have told us that it was time well spent.

 

We have been asked to post a list of witnesses to be called each day. Here is the list of witnesses currently scheduled to be called Tuesday, May 31 and Wednesday, June 1.  Please keep in mind that both the names and the order are subject to change:

 

Tuesday, May 31 and Wednesday, June 1:

 

Grover C. Austin, former First Assistant Legislative Auditor

Carole Wallin, Former Deputy Superintendent of Education under Cecil Picard

Phyllis Landrieu, former member of the Orleans Parish School Board

Lourdes Moran, member of the Orleans Parish School Board

Reverend Torin Sanders, former member of the Orleans Parish School Board

 

We have received requests to provide a summary of developments each day. However, it is the opinion of the Lawyers’ Committee that this would not be a good strategy while trial is underway. However, there are some public posts that contain information posted by others. For example, click the following link for a recent article written by Jessica Williams in the Lens:

 

 http://thelensnola.org/2011/05/26/opsb-rsd-mass-firings-katrina/

 

WEDNESDAY, MAY 23, 2011

TRIAL IS UNDERWAY!

 

Trial has begun. and significant information has become public each day.

 

The following is the current trial schedule. It is subject to change, so please check this website daily before you attend.

Location: Civil District Court, 421 Loyola Avenue corner Poydras (adjacent to City Hall), 3rd Floor, Division "N".

 

Monday, May 23                       1:00 p.m.

Tuesday, May 24                      9:00 a.m.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011       9:00 a.m.

Thursday, May 25, 2011           9:00 a.m.

Friday, May 26   NO TRIAL; OTHER CASES SCHEDULED

 

Monday, May 30   COURT CLOSED; MEMORIAL DAY

Tuesday, May 31                      9:00 a.m.

Wednesday, June 1                  9:00 a.m.

Thursday, June 2                      9:00 a.m.

Friday, June 3                          9:00 a.m

 

Monday, June 6                                    9:00 a.m.

Tuesday, June 7                       9:00 a.m.

Wednesday, June 8                  9:00 a.m.

 

Thursday, June 9 THROUGH FRIDAY, JUNE 17             

NO TRIAL/SCHEDULING CONFLICTS

 

Monday, June 20                      9:00 a.m.

Tuesday, June 21                     9:00 a.m.

Wednesday, June 22                9:00 a.m.

Thursday, June 23                    9:00 a.m.

 

 

BULLETIN!

Trial Begins Monday, May 23 at 1:00 p.m. (new time)

Location: Civil District Court, 421 Loyola Avenue, corner Poydras St. (the 4-story building adjacent to City Hall) Division “N” is on the 3rd floor.

Trial is expected to be held on the following dates (subject to change):

               May 23, 24, 25, 26, 31

               June 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 8, 20, 21, 22, 23

Court will convene at 9:00 a.m. on each day except May 23 (subject to change).

THE STATE AND THE SCHOOL BOARD TRIED TO DELAY THE TRIAL BUT THE LOUISIANA SUPREME COURT REFUSED.

The School Board and the State Defendants tried to delay the trial – again. After being denied by Judge Ethel Simms Julien and a Three-Judge Panel of the Louisiana Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal, the State and the School Board asked the Louisiana Supreme Court to delay the trial. We strongly objected because justice delayed is justice denied, and we felt that waiting 5 years is long enough.

The Louisiana Supreme Court has denied their request to delay the trial.

 

An important message from the Plaintiffs’ Legal Committee

Posted April 28, 2011.

 Trial will begin on Monday, May 23, 2011 at 9:00 a.m. in Division “N” (3rd floor) of Civil District Court, 421 Loyola Avenue corner Poydras Street, which is the building next to City Hall. The trial is public, of course, and there is room for approximately 50 people in the courtroom.

In early April, the School Board and the State Defendants filed a Motion to Stay the trial, in order to delay the trial date. We vigorously opposed their Motion, and the trial court Judge (Ethel Simms Julien) denied their request. OPSB and the State Defendants then asked the Louisiana Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal to delay the trial. We again opposed their efforts, and the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal refused to grant their request for a delay. Justice delayed is justice denied, and we felt that a six year wait was already too long.

The case will begin with our side calling persons to testify first. This is a Judge-trial; there is no jury. Trial is expected to take between 4 – 6 weeks, so it is not expected to finish until mid-July. At this time, trial is scheduled to begin at 9:00 each morning, except on Fridays, when the Judge schedules hearings on other cases, but schedules are always subject to change. There will be no trial between June 6-10 because of a conflict with the annual meeting of the Louisiana State Bar Association, which a large number of Judges and attorneys attend. We urge everyone to check the website to determine changes in the trial schedule, but sometimes there may be schedule changes without notice.

 We do not expect the Judge to immediately issue a ruling when trial concludes. It is likely that both sides will submit post-hearing briefs.

 It is important for everyone to know that hearings to determine how much money each person will receive will take place at a later date which has not been determined. The first phase, which begins May 23 and should conclude by mid-July, is for the purpose of proving that the State, BESE and OPSB are at fault.

 At this time there are no deadlines for class members to submit information, but we encourage everyone to regularly check this website.

 We will try to post updates on this website during the trial as time permits.

 We continue to be honored to serve as your Plaintiffs Legal Committee.

Willie M. Zanders, Sr. Lead Counsel
Suzette Peychaud Bagneris, Liaison Counsel
Rico Alvendia
Jeanne Demarest
Anthony Irpino
Juana Marine Lombard
Clarence Roby
Larry Samuel
Walter Willard


Notice posted March 9, 2011

In order to be eligible to participate in this class action, you must meet the definition of the class that has been approved by the Judge. The class is limited to NOPS employees who were “permanent/tenured” prior to August 29, 2005, and there are “sub-classes” as listed below.

 

In January, we mailed letters to persons who do not appear to meet the definition according to school board records.  If you received the letter stating that you do not appear to meet the definition of the class, and you disagree with OPSB records which show that you were not a tenured/permanent employee of OPSB prior to August 29, 2005, please provide additional information to us not later than March 31, 2011:

1.    Please send a letter stating which of the subclasses you feel you should be included,

AND 

2.    Please send a copy of any documents that substantiate that you were a tenured/permanent employee of OPSB prior to August 29, 2005.

 CLASS DEFINITION

All current or former employees of the Orleans Parish School Board prior to Hurricane Katrina [August 29, 2005], who were terminated and/or forced to retire under the threat of termination from employment by the Orleans Parish School Board, and claim to have sustained economic injury and/or mental anguish and emotional distress as a result of termination and/or being forced to retire under the threat of termination from employment.

     Sub-Class 1: Tenured, Certified Teachers

      Former employees of the OPSB who, prior to August 29, 2005 [Hurricane Katrina], held valid teachers’ certificates issued by the State of Louisiana.  They were employed by the Defendant OPSB as certified, tenured, state-approved public school teachers of regular or permanent status.

     Sub-Class 2: Tenured, Certified Teachers Promoted to Positions of Higher Salary

     Former employees of the OPSB who, prior to August 29, 2005 [Hurricane Katrina], held valid teachers’ certificates issued by the State of Louisiana.  They were employed by the Defendant OPSB as certified, tenured, state-approved public school teachers of regular or permanent status. Additionally, they had been promoted by the Defendant OPSB from a position of lower salary to a position of higher salary [management employees within the New Orleans Public School System], and had acquired the protection of a statutory contract for a period of at least two (2) years. 

     Sub-Class 3: Employees with “permanent status” other than classroom teachers

     Former employees of the OPSB who, prior to August 29, 2005 [Hurricane Katrina], were designated as “permanent employees” of the OPSB other than classroom teachers and school site administrators. They had acquired regular or permanent employment status with the OPSB. 

     Sub-Class 4: Employees forced to retire under duress

     Former employees of the OPSB who, prior to August 29, 2005 [Hurricane Katrina], were tenured employees of the OPSB and met the definition of Sub-Classes 1 through 3 above.  These class members claim that they were forced into retirement as a result of the actions or omissions of the defendants.” 

 

 

IMPORTANT NOTICE !!!

REGARDING “NOTICE OF CLASS ACTION

LITIGATION !!!

Tenured/Permanent New Orleans Public School employees who were terminated or forced to retire after Hurricane Katrina should have recently received an envelope in the mail. 

The envelope contains a notice of Class Action Litigation.

 

Opt-Out Form
Submit this form only if you DON'T want to be included in the class action. (Click to download)

Please note:

There is also an “OPT-OUT” form in the envelope. You should return the form only if you want to be excluded from the lawsuit.

 Because the Court has certified this case as a class action, you are automatically included if you do nothing. 

If you want to be INCLUDED in the lawsuit, you should NOT return the opt-out form.

If you opt-out, you will not be able to recover any money from this class action and you will not be represented by the eight (8) attorneys appointed by the Court.

If you do not receive an envelope in the mail, the “Notice of Class Action Litigation” has been posted on this website (see the above link).

Because the Court has certified this case as a class action, you are automatically included if you do nothing.

If you did not receive the Notice in the mail, you may obtain one by clicking the above link.


NOTICE POSTED October 21, 2010

Trial has been rescheduled to May 23, 2011, in order to meet pre-trial scheduling deadlines.

Between now and May 23, 2011, there will be a great deal of activity on the case in order to fulfill pre-trial responsibilities. We encourage all interested persons to check this website every week. We will continue to post updates as developments occur.

NOTICE POSTED September 10, 2010

On August 30, 2010, the State Defendants filed a cross-claim against OPSB. For an explanation, please go to "Frequently Asked Questions."

Trial in this case has been postponed until May 2, 2011. The reason: the State Defendants needed more time because the School Board filed a cross-claim filed against them.

Between now and May 2, 2011, there will be a great deal of activity on the case in order to fulfill pre-trial responsibilities. We encourage all interested persons to check this website every week. We will continue to post updates as developments occur.

Posted June 24, 2010:

There has been some confusion about our Notice posted June 9 (see below). The July 16 deadline is for attorneys. There is currently no deadline for NOPS employees to submit information to us.

Posted June 9, 2010:

OPSB Counter-Sues BESE, Department of Education and the RSD.

Since our last posting, there have been a number of developments.

First, as a result of information that we obtained from hundreds of documents that we subpoenaed, and from information that we learned when we took the depositions of State and School Board officials, we obtained sufficient proof to fully support our claim that it was the State Defendants (BESE, Department of Education, and the Recovery School District) who had controlling authority over the hiring and firing of OPSB employees and almost all other matters following Katrina. While we had previously alleged this conduct on behalf of the State Defendants, we have amended our lawsuit to further clarify the claim that the OPSB and the State Defendants conspired to and committed wrongful conduct that included the wrongful termination of tenured employees, and intentional interference with the tenured employees’ employment contracts and/or property (tenure) rights.

Second, last week, the Orleans Parish School Board filed its Answer to our claims. In a move that has tremendous significance, the Orleans Parish School Board has filed a Cross-Claim against the State Defendants. The School Board continues to deny the claims that we made against them, however, the School Board in their Cross-Claim states that “By taking over the School Board’s schools, the State Defendants prevented the School Board from placing its employees the same positions they held before Katrina.” The cross-claim filed by the Orleans Parish School Board goes on to state that the claims that we have made against them, are due in whole or in part to the actions or other fault of the State defendants."

 

Posted June 9, 2010:

The Court has ordered the parties to attempt to locate as many class members as possible and advise them of the deadlines and procedures which must be followed relative to this class action.  We have currently located approximately 5,000 class members, but we know that there are many potential class members who have not contacted us. If you know of any tenured OPSB employees who may be able to participate in this class action who have not contacted class counsel, please advise them to provide us with their current contact information through this website.  We (the attorneys) must report to the Court on July 16, 2010 how many persons we were able to locate.  Additionally, the Court may order the parties to exchange current addresses for all known class members.  So, please let everyone know. Thank you!


NOTICE POSTED JUNE 9, 2010 modified June 24, 2010:

The Court has ordered the parties to attempt to locate as many class members as possible and advise them of the deadlines and procedures which must be followed relative to this class action.  We have currently located approximately 5,000 class members, but we know that there are many potential class members who have not contacted us. If you know of any tenured OPSB employees who may be able to participate in this class action who have not contacted class counsel, please advise them to provide us with their current contact information through this website.  We (the attorneys) must report to the Court on July 16, 2010 how many persons we were able to locate.  Additionally, the Court may order the parties to exchange current addresses for all known class members.  So, please let everyone know. Thank you!

Posted April 8, 2010:

We have a date set for trial: the trial will begin January 10, 2011. The court has established a schedule that calls for various other court dates to hear pre-trial motions between now and January 10, 2011. We will, of course, keep you posted as developments occur. Please continue to check this website for updates.

Posted March 9, 2010:

On March 5, 2010, the Louisiana Supreme Court denied the Writ Applications filed by the State Defendants and the Orleans Parish School Board. This means that the case will proceed as a class action, and that 8,600 individual lawsuits don't need to be filed.

Even while we were awaiting this ruling, the trial court Judge gave us permission to continue moving the case forward. Over the past months we have been busy taking depositions, analyzing documents that we subpoenaed and received from the State Defendants and the Orleans Parish School Board, and responding to subpoenas for information sent by the State Defendants. This process will continue.

Within the next month, we will ask the Court to schedule a Status Conference. At that time, the Judge will provide us with dates for hearings on pre-trial Motions and ultimately a date for trial.

Posted March 5, 2010:

We have great news to report: on Friday, March 5, 2010, the Louisiana Supreme Court denied the Writ Application filed by the State Defendants. Please check this website for additional information to be posted during the week of March 8, 2010.


Posted November 12, 2009

We have great news to report. On November 12, 2009, the Louisiana Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal ruled that the case may proceed as a class action. The ruling was by a unanimous 3-0 vote.

This is a huge victory for all tenured OPSB employees who were terminated following Katrina.

This ruling means that 8500 former New Orleans public school employees who were wrongfully terminated  by the actions of the local school board and State of Louisiana, will be able to proceed with their claims together (in one lawsuit) instead of having to file thousands of individual lawsuits. 

For more information, please see "Press Releases."

OPSB and the State Defendants have the right to appeal. We will continue to keep you posted.

 

Posted October 19, 2009:

On Wednesday, September 30, 2009, oral argument was held in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal. Attorneys for the State Defendants and the Orleans Parish School Board presented oral argument in support of their appeal of Judge Simms-Julien’s ruling that the case shall proceed as a class action. We presented oral argument in support of our position that Judge Simms-Julien’s ruling was correct.  We now await a ruling from the Court of Appeal. It is possible that a ruling will be issued within the next 120 days. We will post the ruling on this website when it is issued.

Posted June 15, 2009:

Our lawsuit relates to the wrongful termination of 8,600 employees after Hurricane Katrina. It has nothing to do with two other class action lawsuits that have been filed against OPSB.  

In late June of 2009, certain OPSB employees received a letter and a claims form concerning the sabbatical/sick leave class action lawsuit filed by UTNO in 2003. There were deadlines and there will be a court hearing in the sabbatical case that have nothing to do with our wrongful termination class action.

Additionally, some OPSB employees have received a letter from attorney Jack Harang. His class action lawsuit involves claims relating to unpaid overtime for certain school board employees during the time period 2001-2004, which was prior to Katrina. His lawsuit has nothing to do with ours.

Also posted June 15, 2009:

On June 5, 2009, the Louisiana Supreme Court denied the Writ Application filed by the State Defendants. Consequently, we will be able to continue certain activities (such as document subpoenas and certain discovery) while the appeals filed by OPSB and the State Defendants are pending in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal.  

 

Posted March 25, 2009:

On March 20, 2009, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal denied the Application for Supervisory Writs filed by the State Defendants (the State of Louisiana, State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, State Department of Education and the Recovery School District). The State defendants filed the writs for the purpose of asking the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal to review both the Order denying a stay of proceedings pending their appeal of the Class Certification Order, and the Order granting a Case Management Order. (For an explanation, please go to "Frequently Asked Questions.")

Posted February 20, 2009

On February 17, 2009, The State Defendants (the State of Louisiana, State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, State Department of Education and the Recovery School District) filed an Application for Supervisory Writs, asking the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal to review both the Order denying a stay of proceedings pending their appeal of the Class Certification Order, and the Order granting a Case Management Order.

On February 10, 2009, Judge Simms-Julien issued a Judgment ruling that the plaintiffs are entitled to continue certain activities (such as document subpoenas and certain discovery) while the appeals filed by the State Defendants are pending.


Posted January 9, 2009:

OPSB and each of the defendants (the Orleans Parish School Board, State of Louisiana, State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, State Department of Education and the Recovery School District appealed the Judge's December 10, 2008 ruling granting class action status to the lawsuit.

Posted December, 2008:

 

    We have great news to report: on December 10, 2008, Judge Ethel Simms-Julien granted our Motion to Certify this case as a “Class Action.” This ruling is the result of the 3-day hearing held May 12-14, 2008.

 

What does this Judgment mean?

 

     It means that everyone who meets the definition as a member of the class will be allowed to proceed in one lawsuit. In this case, it means that over 8,500 employees will not be required to file over 8,500 separate lawsuits.

 

     Judge Simms-Julien gave many reasons why the case should proceed as a class action. One of the reasons cited by the Judge was that it would be impractical or unlikely for the Class members to be able to pursue their claims by filing individual lawsuits. The class action procedure allows the court to consider all of the claims in one lawsuit, because the issues of fact (everyone was terminated or scheduled to be terminated effective March 24, 2006) and the issues of law were common to everyone.

 

 How do I know if I am a potential member of the class?

 

     The Judge approved the definition of the class, and defined the following sub-classes. Here is an excerpt from the Judgment:

 

     “The Court, having considered the pleadings, affidavits, depositions, briefs, exhibits, evidence, and applicable law, and for the Reasons separately assigned this same date, finds that the elements provided for by Articles 591(B)(1) and (B)(3) of the Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure have been satisfied by the plaintiffs.

       IT IS HEREBY ORDERED, ADJUDGED AND DECREED that there be Judgment in favor of the Plaintiffs granting the Plaintiffs’ Motion to Certify this action for management and trial as a class action.

      IT IS FURTHER ORDERED, ADJUDGED AND DECREED that there be Judgment certifying a Class defined as follows:

     “All current or former employees of the Orleans Parish School Board prior to Hurricane Katrina [August 29, 2005], who were terminated and/or forced to retire under the threat of termination from employment by the Orleans Parish School Board, and claim to have sustained economic injury and/or mental anguish and emotional distress as a result of termination and/or being forced to retire under the threat of termination from employment.

      IT IS FURTHER ORDERED, ADJUDGED AND DECREED that the following subclasses of class members are offered:

      Sub-Class 1: Tenured, Certified Teachers

      Former employees of the OPSB who, prior to August 29, 2005 [Hurricane Katrina], held valid teachers’ certificates issued by the State of Louisiana.  They were employed by the Defendant OPSB as certified, tenured, state-approved public school teachers of regular or permanent status.

     Sub-Class 2: Tenured, Certified Teachers Promoted to Positions of Higher Salary

     Former employees of the OPSB who, prior to August 29, 2005 [Hurricane Katrina], held valid teachers’ certificates issued by the State of Louisiana.  They were employed by the Defendant OPSB as certified, tenured, state-approved public school teachers of regular or permanent status. Additionally, they had been promoted by the Defendant OPSB from a position of lower salary to a position of higher salary [management employees within the New Orleans Public School System], and had acquired the protection of a statutory contract for a period of at least two (2) years. 

     Sub-Class 3:       Employees with “permanent status” other than classroom teachers

     Former employees of the OPSB who, prior to August 29, 2005 [Hurricane Katrina], were designated as “permanent employees” of the OPSB other than classroom teachers and school site administrators. They had acquired regular or permanent employment status with the OPSB. 

      Sub-Class 4: Employees forced to retire under duress

     Former employees of the OPSB who, prior to August 29, 2005 [Hurricane Katrina], were tenured employees of the OPSB and met the definition of Sub-Classes 1 through 3 above.  These class members claim that they were forced into retirement as a result of the actions or omissions of the defendants.” 

Did the Judge make any other rulings?

     Yes:

     IT IS FURTHER ORDERED, ADJUDGED AND DECREED that there be Judgment appointing the following class members to serve as Class Representatives: Antoinette Aubry-Guillory, Karen Marks, Gwendolyn Ridgely, Lois Lockhart, Linda Pichon, Barbara Moore, and Cynthia Jordan.

     IT IS FURTHER ORDERED, ADJUDGED AND DECREED that there be Judgment appointing the following attorneys to serve as Class Counsel: Willie M. Zanders, Sr. (Lead Counsel); 2) Suzette Bagneris (Liaison Counsel); 3) Clarence Roby; 4) Anthony Irpino; 5) Roderick Alvendia; 6) Juana Marine Lombard; 7) Charles M. “Larry” Samuel; and 8) Walter I. Willard.

On May 12-14, 2008, the Court held a hearing to consider our Motion for Class Certification. The Court will establish a briefing schedule to set deadlines for the attorneys to submit legal memoranda. After briefs are filed, the Court will issue its ruling.

On September 21, 2007, Civil District Court Judge Ethel Simms-Julien denied a request made by the State Defendants to have the case thrown out after the State Defendants claimed that the plaintiffs failed to state a “cause of action.” The Judge ruled that the plaintiffs met the appropriate legal standard to state a cause of action regarding various claims made in the lawsuit.  The State Defendants appealed Judge’s Simms-Julien’s ruling, and on November 27, 2007, a 3-Judge panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal upheld the Judge’s ruling. The State Defendants filed a Writ Application, asking the Louisiana Supreme Court of Louisiana to review the ruling, but on February 15, 2008, the Supreme Court of Louisiana denied the Writ Application made by the State Defendants. This constitutes the final ruling on the efforts of the State Defendants to have the case thrown out.

 …and…throughout this process…we have been actively conducting “discovery,” which is our right to subpoena documents and records maintained by the Orleans Parish School Board and the State Defendants, and we have taken depositions of numerous officials of the Orleans Parish School Board and the State Defendants.


FOR THE ONLY ACCURATE INFORMATION ABOUT THE LAWSUIT PERTAINING TO THE WRONGFUL TERMINATION/KATRINA LAWSUIT, PLEASE REGULARLY CHECK WITH THIS WEBSITE.

NOPSE JUSTICE
P.O. Box 56068
New Orleans, Louisiana 70156-6068
mail@nopsejustice.com

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