It has been four years since the Flint water crisis made national headlines and residents are fighting for compensation.
Attorneys for thousands of Flint residents made the case that a consolidated class action lawsuit brought by Flint residents against city, county and state authorities as well as private contractors should be allowed to continue on Wednesday.
Judge Judith Levy of the Eastern District of Michigan, held off on making a decision Wednesday, taking the day's oral arguments under advisory. A ruling is expected in the coming weeks.
The case opens the door for tens of thousands of Flint residents to potentially receive compensation after years of highly elevated levels of lead in the city’s water. In 2014, officials from Flint and the state government decided to use the Flint River as the city main water source, exposing residents to water contaminated with lead and bacteria.
In a class action lawsuit, residents allege that the city, state and private companies were negligent in not alerting residents to the lack of protection from lead seeping into their water supply. Lawyers for the residents also argue that residents have a right to clean water under federal environmental protection laws.
The complaint also alleges that racial discrimination played a role in authorities' insufficiently aggressive response to the potential health threat from exposure to the contaminated water.
Ted Leopold, a co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs, sees it as a case of discrimination.
“The overriding issue is that this terrible tragedy essentially poisoning an entire community of people would not have occurred in a less poverty-stricken area,” he said.
In a break between sessions, Leopold expressed optimism that the case will proceed.
“We fully suspect that most of these claims, if not all of them will survive.”
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