Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Urban Studies


School of Urban and Regional Studies

Major Professor

Wagner, Fritz

Second Advisor

Brooks, Jane

Third Advisor

Whelan, Robert

Fourth Advisor

Wildgen, John


This research is a case study of the litigation in progress by hundreds of St. Bernard Parish families against the Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans and Browning Ferris Industries (BFI). The families are suing for personal and property damages sustained as a result of the poor operation and maintenance of the East Bank Sewerage Treatment Plant (EBSTP) and the Crescent Acres Landfill. The purpose of the study will be to examine the consequences, links, and process of interaction among three key units of analysis: the plaintiffs, their lawyers, and one of the major defendants in the litigation, the Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans; and, three basic concepts related to each study group: the hysteria of the neighborhood, the greed of the lawyers, and the vulnerability of the public sector to litigation. I postulate that the plaintiffs' lawyers, originally retained to assist the neighborhood in their fight for closure of the landfill, became motivated by greed to expand the neighborhood fight and bring it to a more lucrative conclusion. By engaging their trust, the lawyers were able to organize the neighborhood and plant the seeds for mass psychogenic illness and neighborhood hysteria. The resulting litigation illustrates the vulnerability of the public sector to contrived litigation and the concomitant consequences to John Q. Citizen and the public purse. This research will contribute to our understanding of the concepts of greed and hysteria, will provide much needed insight on public service agency vulnerability, and will offer solutions to the problems encountered by public service agencies in providing legally mandated services.


The University of New Orleans and its agents retain the non-exclusive license to archive and make accessible this dissertation or thesis in whole or in part in all forms of media, now or hereafter known. The author retains all other ownership rights to the copyright of the thesis or dissertation.