Attorneys say the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s threat to have Livingston Parish’s Hurricane Gustav debris removal monitors investigated for fraud is “gratuitous” and “improper.”
FEMA has alleged that monitors hired by the parish to oversee the removal of leaning trees and hanging limbs from parish rights of way were inexperienced, poorly trained and submitted fraudulent claims.
The parish’s attorneys said in the latest motion filed in the case that the accusations of misconduct are “unfounded” and fail to explain how FEMA’s own personnel on the ground could have missed such widespread fraud.
At issue is the nearly $59 million Livingston Parish is seeking from FEMA in unpaid cleanup costs stemming from the 2008 storm.
The Advocate reports the dispute is before the U.S. Civilian Board of Contract Appeals in Washington, D.C. The parish has asked for arbitration to settle the matter.
FEMA has denied $14 million of the parish’s $16.6 million in claims for the “leaner and hanger” work and all of the $44 million the parish submitted in claims for the debris cleared from the parish’s waterways.
Calling FEMA’s analysis of the parish’s claims “highly flawed and incorrect,” Livingston’s legal team at Baker Hostetler said the federal agency has relied on skewed information, gross misstatements and omissions of fact in making its case against paying the parish.
The monitors of Professional Engineering Consultants and its subcontractor, Barowka and Bonura Engineers and Consultants, were neither inexperienced nor trained to defraud FEMA, lead attorney Hilary S. Cairnie said in the parish’s motion.