Recently, there has been extensive coverage in the news about the release of millions of gallons of water from Lake Okeechobee into the Indian River Lagoon.
The Army Corps of Engineers and the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) have gone on record as stating that this has become a necessary action because the lake levels have gotten too high, causing concerns with the integrity of the dyke surrounding the lake.
The problem with this undertaking is that the runoff has caused a notorious plume of green toxic algae. Protesters have become more visible and visits from Tallahassee politicos are becoming more frequent. As expected, lawsuits are starting to get filed by local businessmen claiming a loss of earnings due to the plume and run off.
However, who do they sue? The Army Corp? The SFWMD?
These entities are protected by Florida and national immunity statutes with damage caps. Suing them will prove difficult.
How does one attribute the losses to these entities? The water travels though a canal system where farm, ranch and residential run off adds chemicals to the water. It may be challenging to identify potential defendants. In order to successfully prosecute a claim, a plaintiff must have an identifiable defendant.
In the case of those who are claiming to have fallen victim to the environmental disaster, that requirement may prove too complicated.