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Livingston Parish will hire a lawyer to defend a $53 million lawsuit against the parish over the costs of cleaning up after Hurricane Gustav.

The Advocate reports International Equipment Distributors Inc., the parish's main contractor in the 2008 cleanup, filed suit last year claiming Livingston had paid only "a small fraction of the money it owes IED."

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has refused to pay the parish for most cleanup costs, and the parish is in the process of making a final appeal to FEMA for payment of a portion of the bills submitted by IED.

West bank bound lanes on the Huey P. Long Bridge in Jefferson Parish are closed until 5 a.m. on Monday while workers place girders for wider lanes.

State officials are urging motorists to use the Crescent City Connection in New Orleans or the Interstate 310 Bridge in Lulling as alternate crossings of the Mississippi River.

The Huey P. Long Bridge widening project will include three 11-foot lanes in each direction. The total width, including shoulders, will more than double from the current driving surface.

Completion is projected for 2013.

The New Orleans Hornets are holding auditions in Westwego, Baton Rouge and Biloxi, Miss., to pick members of next season's Honeybees dance squad.

Auditions at the Alario Center in Westwego start Saturday morning. The Baton Rouge auditions are Sunday afternoon at Tari's School of Dance. The Biloxi auditions were held Thursday.

Roughly 40 finalists will be picked from the three auditions to compete July 22 for spots on the squad. Only those final auditions will be open to the public.

The Louisiana Department of Natural Resources says an agreement with the St. Martin Parish School Board has been hammered out to save 640 acres of cypress and hardwood forest under threat of being logged in the Atchafalaya basin.

The school board had allowed the tract to be logged but environmental groups recently intervened and threatened to sue. The lawsuit prompted DNR's conservation plan, according to Dean Wilson, the head of the Atchafalaya Basinkeeper.

Environmentalists oppose cypress logging in south Louisiana because the trees are so hard to grow back.

State health regulators have confirmed six more human cases of West Nile Virus, bringing the year's total to 10, including two cases of the more serious neuroinvasive disease.

The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, in a news release Friday, said the new cases are from East Feliciana, Jefferson, Rapides, St. Tammany and Tangipahoa parishes.

First-time claims for unemployment insurance benefits in Louisiana for the week ending July 7 increased from the previous week's total.

State labor department figures released Friday show initial claims rose to 3,960 from the previous week's total of 3,456. The figure was lower than it was for the comparable week a year earlier, when there were 4,053 initial claims.

The four-week moving average, which is a less volatile measure of claims, decreased to 3,714 from the previous week's total of 3,792.

LSU's network of charity hospitals and clinics will lose a quarter of its budget, with the Jindal administration choosing to levy the largest slice of Medicaid cuts on the facilities.

Health and Hospitals Secretary Bruce Greenstein said nearly $317 million of the $523 million in cuts announced Friday will fall on the public health care system run by LSU.

Hospital officials had previously warned that they couldn't make deep cuts without shuttering facilities.

A documentary film will be shown Saturday in Houma to mark the 30-year anniversary of the crash of Pan-American World Airways Flight 759 in Kenner.

The Courier reports the program starts at noon at the Terrebonne Parish Main Library, 151 Library Drive.

New Orleans filmmaker Royd Anderson directed and produced "Pan Am Flight 759," which focuses on the July 9, 1982, crash that killed 153 people.

Seven of those killed were from Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes.

The screening is free and open to the public.

Gov. Bobby Jindal doesn't notify Louisiana's second-ranking official when he travels out of state, even though Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne technically becomes governor whenever Jindal leaves.

The Republican governor has been out-of-state more than 25 percent of the time since May, campaigning for Republican presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney, raising money for GOP causes and candidates and participating in conferences.

Oil dispersant maker asks judge to toss claims

Jul 13, 2012

The manufacturer of a chemical dispersant used to fight the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has asked a federal judge to dismiss claims over the government's use of its product.

U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier didn't immediately rule Friday after hearing Illinois-based Nalco Co.'s argument that it isn't liable for how the federal government used Corexit to break up oil gushing from BP's blown-out well.

A plaintiffs' attorney countered that Nalco is liable for claims it supplied a product that wasn't safe to use in the Gulf.