January 04, 2019

FLINT, MI -- Appellate court judges on Friday ruled that a federal water crisis lawsuit could continue against the city of Flint and several current and former state officials.

Judges with the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals voted 2-1 to deny dismissing certain state and city officials from the lawsuit alleging they violated Flint residents Shari Guertin, her minor child, and Diogenes Muse-Cleveland’s “bodily integrity” by exposing them to lead-contaminated water and hiding it.

Judge Richard Griffin wrote the majority opinion. He was joined by Judge Helene White. Senior Judge David W. McKeague wrote a separate opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part.

The panel of judges ultimately denied an appeal to dismiss claims against city and state officials including former Flint Department of Public Works Director Howard Croft, former emergency managers Darnell Earley and Gerald Ambrose and former DEQ officials Liane Shekter-Smith, Stephen Busch, Michael Prysby and Bradley Wurfel.

While the suit will continue against those officials, the judges decision dismissed claims against five state employees including former director of Department of Environmental Quality Daniel Wyant, Department of Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon, former Chief Medical Executive Eden Wells and DHHS staffers Nancy Peeler and Robert Scott.

Griffin wrote they were dismissed “because plaintiff’s complaint alleges mere negligence and not a constitutional violation against them,” according to court records.

Plaintiffs' lawyers for a similar case Theodore J. Leopold of Cohen Milstein and Michael Pitt stated “The court’s decision is clear, the city of Flint does not get a free pass for reckless behavior and violating the constitutional rights of the citizens of Flint. This is another victory for the people of Flint who have suffered and been ignored long enough by city and state officials.

The article can be accessed here.