Breaking News: Court Rules Homeowners Behind Addicks and Barker Dams Are Entitled to Fifth Amendment Compensation -- Government Liable for Project-Induced Flood Damage

Read the Press Release here and the Judge's Order here.

Smoking Gun

Posted on Tuesday, February 19th, 2019 at 7:14 pm    

We went down to the Corps of Engineers office to review about 100 of their boxes with the hope of locating some items that had been referenced in deposition testimony which were not in the items produced by the government. We found several upstream inundation maps that clearly demonstrate as early as the year 2000 that the Corps studied exactly which upstream homes near the Addicks and Barker reservoirs would be flooded. We have not seen any indication that these maps were ever shared with the public.

Co-Lead Counsel Armi Easterby said, “I have found several ‘smoking guns’ in my legal career, and these maps are some of the best I’ve seen. We are getting all of these maps copied this weekend, and will be using them and some depositions next week and at trial.”

The Federal Government filed a motion to stay the February trial several times and has been denied. Justice delayed is justice denied. We look forward to the upcoming trial and will be posting any updates.

Update: Due to the government shut down Judge Lettow has suspended the deadlines and case which means that once the shutdown ends the case will automatically come back online.
Armi said it best, “I’m disappointed but not discouraged — the Government may be shut down but Williams Hart isn’t. We’ll make good use of the extra time by making a strong case even stronger.”


Timeline of Harvey

Posted on Tuesday, February 19th, 2019 at 7:09 pm    

Thursday, August 17th

The National Hurricane Center issues advisories on Tropical Depression #9. By noon it is a tropical storm named Harvey.

Friday, August 18th

Harvey passed over the Windward Islands but with a max wind speed of only 40 mph. It was unclear where it would end up. No one could have known that the 19 trillion gallons of water that would soon fall over Texas.

Saturday, August 19th

Harvey weakens and is only a “tropical wave,” which is even less than a tropical depression. Weather forecasters determine that there was only a “low chance” of regeneration.

Wednesday, August 23rd

New weather prediction models showed that Harvey was not done yet. It was unclear where Harvey was going to hit, but it was clear that it was gaining strength off of the coast. Harvey goes from a tropical wave to a tropical depression and finally, by 11 PM, Harvey is a tropical storm. Governor Gregg Abbott declared a state of disaster for 30 Texas counties.

Thursday, August 24th

By morning Harvey has become a Category 1 Hurricane with 80 mph wind speeds offshore. According to the Houston Chronical, it was at this point the Army Corps forecast that the Barker and Addicks reservoirs would spill beyond government-owned land. However, they did not publish this prediction with the public.

Friday, August 25th

Harvey was a Category 2 Hurricane with 100 mph winds Friday morning. It increased in strength steadily and by 2 PM Harvey was a Category 3 Hurricane with 120 mph winds. By 5 PM that evening Harvey is a Category 4 Hurricane with 130 mph winds. The National Weather Service in Corpus Christi issued a rare Extreme Wind Warning. Harvey makes landfall as a Category 4 Hurricane on San Jose Island near Rockport.

Saturday, August 26th

Harvey makes landfall again at 1 AM on Copano Bay, by then it had downgraded to a Category 3 Hurricane. By 7 AM coastal counties had received 10-15 inches of rain. Nearly two days after the Army Corps predicted flooding, Fort Bend County was briefed by the Corps and issued the first flood warning to neighborhoods near the Barker reservoir. By then the storm was well on its way.

It should be noted that evacuation during a storm is incredibly dangerous. Casualties occur most often in attempts to flee on the roads during a storm. Because Harvey was already causing heavy rain and high winds, officials urged people to stay where they were and to weather the storm at home if at all possible.

Sunday, August 27th

Nearly 10 days since Harvey formed as a tropical depression in the Atlantic, Harvey, having weakened back into a tropical storm, moved slowly over Houston. The National Weather Service in Houston reported catastrophic and unprecedented flooding. It was at this point that Harris County issued flood warnings to neighborhoods upstream of both the Barker and Addicks reservoirs. By then many houses were already flooded. Residents fled on foot or were rescued by boats. Neighborhoods in Northwest Houston were devastated by flooding but had no idea their homes were at risk. Many of these homes had weathered several major storms prior which lead people to believe that their home would be safe from the flooding this time as well.

Heavy rain continued until Wednesday, August 30th. The national guard deployed 24,000 troops to offer emergency aid. According to the Texas Tribune and the Department of State Health Services. A total of 88 people died due to Hurricane Harvey. According to FEMA more than $1.5 billion in federal funds were paid to Texans impacted by the disaster, including assistance grants, low-interest disaster loans, and flood insurance advance payments within the first 30 days after the storm.

The recovery process continues today.

Well over a year later, many people are still without their homes. We are proud of the work we have done to help Houstonians in this ongoing fight. Firm Partner Armi Easterby was appointed to represent individual claimants as Upstream Co-Lead Counsel. We are proud to be directly involved in holding the Federal Government accountable for taking private property through the legal process known as reverse condemnation. Contact us HERE if you or someone you know has been affected by the flooding of the Addicks and Barker reservoirs.

Meet Armi Easterby

Posted on Tuesday, February 19th, 2019 at 6:42 pm    


E. Armistead Easterby, “Armi,” is a proud Texan. Armi attended the University of Texas in Austin. From there he went on to University of Houston Law Center where he was Associate Editor at the Houston Law Review before graduating cum laude in 1996. Armi joined Williams Hart law firm in 2005, and started the commercial trial section in 2008. Williams Hart commercial trial team focuses on environmental cases, intellectual property disputes, and various other commercial litigation matters. Armi Easterby has been licensed to work in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims since January 2000. This is the court is unique in that it handles claims against the federal government. Not all attorneys are licensed to practice in this specific court of law. Armi has also personally negotiated hundreds of oil spill claims and has collected in excess of $50 million for eligible claimants from previous disasters. Armi lives in Houston with his wife and 5 children. He is active in giving back to his community and passionate about the mentoring younger attorneys.

Most of Armi’s cases have centered around situations where a large company has taken advantage of a small family business. “The ‘David and Goliath’ theme is almost always present in my cases,” Armi says, “I know people like to make lawyer jokes and criticize our court system, but time and time again I’ve seen the civil justice system as the only recourse my clients have. It is gratifying to see a small company take on a Fortune 500 company in front of a jury.”

Hundreds of home and business owners have filed claims against the Army Corp of Engineers for their “controlled release” of water from the Barker and Addicks reservoirs. While many people lived in floodplains and were flooded during Harvey many of the neighborhoods upstream of the Addicks and Barker reservoirs were not in the 100 or even 500 year floodplain. These homes had no prior experience of flooding. As such many families were not required to purchase the flood insurance required for floodplain zoned homes. These families experienced up to neck-deep water without any warning. Cases in which average Americans have been harmed by a much larger entity is Armi’s specialty. His experienced legal team is working to get the victims of upstream reservoir flooding back on their feet.