After Harvey, A Second Flood – But This One’s At The Courthouse

Some flooded homeowners are hoping lawyers will prove that land was taken involuntarily.

By Michael Marks & Rhonda FanningOctober 18, 2017 10:59 am,

During Hurricane Harvey, the Army Corps of Engineers decided to open the floodgates to release water from the Addicks and Barker Reservoirs. Thousands of downstream properties flooded. Now, many of those affected are suing to recoup damages from that flood.

They’re arguing that the government essentially took their property without permission when they released water from the dams.

L.M. Sixel, a business reporter with the Houston Chronicle, says it’s turning into quite the frenzy for lawyers of all stripes.

Sixel says lawyers tend to fall into two camps – either “chicken catchers” or “chicken pluckers.”

“The chicken catchers are the lawyers who attract clients and they do it through a variety of means like advertising on television,” she says. “They’ve been running Facebook ads and they’ve been hosting seminars.”

Meanwhile, the “chicken pluckers” are the ones who actually try the cases. “They prepare the cases for trial,” Sixel says. “They interview the witnesses and the experts, and they actually appear in front of the juries. And a lot of times people assume that the people on TV are the ones trying the cases, but that’s not always the case at all.”

Lawyers say they’ve been able to sign up clients through word of mouth.

“I was talking to one of the lawyers who said that when they can get one neighbor signed up, a lot of times the rest of the neighbors on the block will sign up,” she says. “One lawyer told me he signed up five consecutive neighbors on one block.”

Sixel says that people are pinning their hopes on a 2012 case in which the Supreme Court ruled that land had been taken involuntarily in Arkansas.

Written by Jen Rice.