September 09, 2013
Flood of Lies: The St. Rita’s Nursing Home Tragedy, a new book by New Orleans lawyer James Cobb (L ’78) tells the defendants’ side of the story stemming from the prosecution of Sal and Mabel Mangano for the drowning deaths of 35 elderly residents in Hurricane Katrina flooding.
The Manganos, who built St. Rita’s Nursing Home in 1985, didn’t evacuate the St. Bernard Parish facility before the hurricane hit on Aug. 29, 2005, but got dozens of residents out when the building was inundated by flood waters.
The state of Louisiana prosecuted the couple for negligent homicide in the drownings and on 24 counts of cruelty to the elderly or infirm. But Cobb led a defense team that secured acquittals on all counts from a six-person jury in West Feliciana Parish. The defense argued, among other things, that the Manganos were being singled out for blame when many other deaths and devastation were caused by failures of the state and federal governments.
Cobb is a former longtime co-director of Tulane Law School’s trial advocacy program and twice won the Monte M. Lemann Distinguished Teaching Award.