defalcation. n. (law) The act of canceling part of a claim by deducting a smaller claim which the claimant owes to the defendant. Also: A term used by the United States Bankruptcy Code to describe a category of bad acts that taint a particular debt such that it cannot be discharged in bankruptcy.
Rhymes with defecation, as in:
While the United States government is immune for legal liability for the defalcations alleged herein, it is not free, nor should it be, from posterity’s judgment concerning its failure to accomplish what was its task.
This story -- 50 years in the making -- is heart-wrenching. Millions of dollars were squandered in building a levee system with respect to these outfall canals which was known to be inadequate by the corps’s own calculations.
From the statement of the Honorable Stanwood R. Duval Jr. of the Federal District Court of New Orleans, as cited this morning in the New York Times, which dismisses the class action lawsuit filed by the citizens of New Orleans against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers concerning the failure of the levees that resulted in the submergence of 80% of New Orleans under water when they failed under the onslaught of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Judge Duval was forced to dismiss the case -- despite the acknowledgment of incompetence -- due to the Flood Control Act of 1928 which “granted legal immunity to the government in the event of failure of flood control projects like levees.”
See also: embezzlement. The misappropriation or misapplication of money or property entrusted to one’s care, custody, or control.