In the News

Eight Years After Flint Water Tragedy, EPA & Michigan Corporations Yet to Be Held Accountable

April 25, 2022

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Engineering Firms Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam and Veolia Allegedly Failed to Identify Corroding Pipes as Thousands of Children and Families Grew Sicker

Environmental Protection Agency Failed to Notify Residents of Significant Lead Poisoning Risk

FLINT, MI – On the eighth anniversary of the water supply tragedy that resulted in the deadly Flint Water Crisis, attorneys representing more than 5,000 Flint residents in their class action lawsuit against Veolia North America (Veolia) and Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam (LAN), as well as a parallel lawsuit against the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), demanded a full measure of justice.

“The residents of Flint have endured unimaginable pain, loss and illness as a result of the reckless negligence of the EPA and the two engineering firms that advised the City of Flint, Veolia and Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam,” said Ted Leopold, court-appointed co-lead counsel and partner at Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll. “Though we have made important progress toward holding accountable the bad actors that enabled this public health disaster, our fight to win full justice for the thousands of children and families whose lives have been irreparably damaged continues.”

“We believe a Michigan Jury will find that the evidence proves that the two engineering companies acted negligently and the EPA acted recklessly, thus endangering the lives of the children and adults of Flint,” said Michael Pitt, court-appointed co-lead counsel and founding partner at Pitt McGehee Palmer & Rivers. “Our work will not end until these responsible parties are brought to justice and made to pay for the harm they caused.”

In 2014, the City of Flint hired LAN and Veolia to advise on the City’s decision to switch its water supply from the highly contaminated Flint River. As citizens began raising concerns about the water’s smell, color and taste, and even after a deadly outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease, the engineering companies failed to take even basic steps required of professional engineers, and failed to identify corroding pipes as the root cause.

Instead, both companies recommended that the City double the water system’s dose of ferric chloride, a highly acidic chemical, which only compounded the water pipes’ corrosion issues. These negligent actions cause irreparable damage to residents’ health, including and especially to young children who must forever live with the damage of lead poisoning. Additionally, pipes in homes throughout Flint have been permanently corroded, making it nearly impossible for families to leverage or sell their homes.

The EPA, which was aware of these dangerous issues and their long-term impacts on health, never warned Flint residents, even as the public health crisis quickly escalated.

In 2020, plaintiffs in the Flint class action lawsuit won a landmark $626.25 million settlement against multiple government defendants, including the State of Michigan, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and former Governor Rick Snyder.

Media Contact: Berlin Rosen / cohenmilstein@berlinrosen.com

About Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC

Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC is recognized as one of the premier law firms in the country, handling complex plaintiff-side litigation. With more than 100 attorneys, Cohen Milstein has offices in Washington, D.C., Chicago, Ill., New York, N.Y., Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., Philadelphia, Pa. and Raleigh, N.C. For additional information, visit www.cohenmilstein.com or call 202.408.4600.