Attorneys from 21 law firms filed a consolidated class-action lawsuit against Flint, Mich. officials, state officials including Gov. Rick Snyder and two engineering firms over the town’s lead-contaminated water crisis.
According to The Detroit News, in June, Federal Judge Judith Levy ruled that residents in Flint have sufficiently proved that government officials were “so egregious as to shock the conscience,” a key legal standard. The judge ordered the lawyers to consolidate the arguments and dismissed other parts of the lawsuit.
Roughly 100,000 Flint residents “have experienced and will continue to experience serious personal injury and property damage caused by defendants’ deliberate, reckless and negligent misconduct,” the complaint said.
“Defendants caused a public health crisis by exposing (Flint residents) to contaminated water” and “exacerbated the crisis by concealing and misrepresenting its scope, failing to take effective remedial action to eliminate it, and then lying about it to cover up their misconduct,” it continued.
The Snyder administration appointed emergency managers who recommended and implemented the switch of the city’s water source from the Detroit regional water system to the Flint River three years ago. The river’s water, which was corrosive and not treated with corrected chemicals, resulted in lead leaking into the residents’ drinking water.
The lawsuit accuses engineering firms and government officials of unconstitutionally treating Flint’s predominantly Black residents differently than the predominantly White residents of Genesee County. The suit was filed on behalf of the city’s 100,000 residents and other users of its water system. It also accuses the defendants of acting recklessly and not respecting residents’ due process rights.
Theodore Leopold is acting as the case’s lead attorney. He said he’s satisfied with the consolidation because it allows the case to proceed more quickly.
“This case has been going on way too long, and unfortunately the governor nor any of the other defendants have been willing to step up and take responsibility,” Leopold said.
Among those listed as defendants in the lawsuit are the Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam firm, Michigan Health Human Services Director Nick Lyon, former Department of Environmental Quality Director Daniel Wyant and former Flint Mayor Dayne Walling.
The full article appeared in Ebony magazine.