Litigation is still ongoing against the two private engineering firms that allegedly gave the city negligent advice regarding its efforts to change its water supply, which eventually led to the city's drinking water becoming contaminated with lead.
After more than 18 months of negotiations, Flint, Michigan, residents and businesses are set to receive $600 million under a newly unveiled proposal that would settle civil claims stemming from the city’s water crisis, according to leading attorneys on the plaintiffs’ side.
Co-lead counsel for the class of injured plaintiffs, Theodore Leopold of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, told Law.com on Thursday morning that Michigan, its Department of Environmental Quality, as well as former Gov. Rick Snyder and other government officials, have agreed to the multimillion-dollar accord in a deal that must secure court approval.
“This is the beginning of hopefully some closure for a community that’s been horribly harmed by the negligence and bad acts off the state and others,” Leopold said. “We’re proud of the work that got us here so far, but there is more work to do.”
Leopold noted that litigation is still ongoing against the two private engineering firms that allegedly gave the city negligent advice regarding its efforts to change its water supply, which eventually led to the city’s drinking water becoming contaminated with lead.
Most of the settlement money has been allocated for minors. According to details of the plan, 79.5% has been set aside for minors, 18% for adults and property damage claims, 0.5% for business economic loss and 2% for programmatic relief. Leopold said $35 million of the total will be put into a trust for current minors who don’t have to decide to make a claim until they are 19, and $12 million has been set aside for public schools to care for children with special needs related to lead poisoning.
ARCHER will be administering the settlement claims.
Leopold said there was no particular breaking point motivating the timing of the settlement, or award, but rather that it was the end result of sustained “good faith” negotiation by all sides. He also said that former U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Michigan, who helped mediate the talks, was instrumental in bringing about the accord.
“Having his gravitas was tremendously helpful,” he said.
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