The Hurricane's Effects on Lawyers and Clients:

Professor Bainbridge posts an e-mail that discusses this. Naturally, we need to keep this in perspective: Dozens of peoples lost their lives, many more lost their loved ones, and many more still lost a great deal. But it's helpful, I think, to also concretely visualize some of the less obvious effects, effects that might still be quite serious, especially for clients and not just the lawyers.

Not to mention a significant test of the disaster recovery programs of the local financial institutions. The larger regional banks should be fine, but you have to wonder if many of the small, local banks have a disaster recovery plan that contemplated an event of this magnitude.
8.31.2005 3:52pm
Cheburashka (mail):
I imagine there may be some substantial litigation over shifted property lines coming out of this.
8.31.2005 4:42pm
Shelby (mail):
Much of Steven's post frets about the immense problems of damaged or destroyed legal records and evidence. The problem also encompasses other records, however. Many businesses will have off-site backups of electronic data, but what about medical records? Are x-rays routinely saved in electronic form now?

N.O. was also the regional business capital, and a major center for energy companies. Even if those businesses don't lose all their data, it will be difficult for all but the wealthiest to recreate their operations elsewhere, especially with most employees uprooted and scattered to the winds.
8.31.2005 5:51pm
Edward A. Hoffman (mail):
One issue the email doesn't discuss is what happens when a case is filed late because the statute of limitations ran while the layer (or party) was displaced.

After the Northridge and Loma Prieta earthquakes California enacted statutes which dealt with this problem to some extent, but I don't know whether the feds did anything similar. I also don't know whether the governments in LA, MS and AL are doing anything about this issue of whether the feds are on it this time.

And even if they pass such legislation tomorrow, there remains the thorny question of whether it can be applied retroactively to cases that became time-barred in the interim.
8.31.2005 7:01pm
Edward A. Hoffman (mail):
because the statute of limitations ran while the layer (or party) was displaced.

Obviously, I meant "lawyer" and not "layer".

Another aspect of the problem is what to do when the lawyer and party are ready to file their papers but can't do so because the courts are closed or inaccessible. I'll bet there are a lot of lawyers outside of New Orleans who were preparing to file last-minute complaints, appeals, etc. with courts in the city and have been unable to do so.
8.31.2005 7:29pm
Shelby (mail):
A similar problem may have occurred in San Francsico after the 1906 quake -- I can't think of any other major US cities that have been so devastated (Chicago fire, maybe?). Does anyone know how the legal community responded then? What worked or didn't? It's pretty arcane knowledge, I'll admit.
8.31.2005 8:01pm
Cheburashka (mail):
Well, the most recent example is obviously 9/11. Because of the trade center's proximity to the Foley Sq. courthouses, and the many, many law offices nearby, a great many cases were disrupted.

I don't believe any litigation over these issues emerged from that, so I take it that no-one bothered to file the futile "they missed the deadline bombings-don't-count ha-ha" motion.

Isn't the rule is that the period can't end when the courthouse is closed?

(In any event, there are many stories of associates ordered to sneak through the police barriers and past the rescue workers to obtain documents from their offices. I wouldn't be shocked if one or two of those "looters"...)
9.1.2005 8:47pm