For Immediate Release
FLINT, MI – A federal appeals court upheld a ruling late Friday that reinstated former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and others in his administration as defendants in the class action lawsuit brought by victims of the Flint Water Crisis. Gov. Snyder, as well as other government defendants in the suit, face charges of violating Flint citizens’ right to bodily integrity as protected under the 14th Amendment. In their majority opinion, the Court noted that “Snyder’s alleged role in creating, failing to mitigate, and covering up the crisis plausibly demonstrates deliberate indifference.”
"This is yet another step on the long road to justice,” said Theodore J. Leopold, Partner at Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll and co-lead Plaintiffs’ attorney. “We have fought for justice for the citizens of flint and defeated the State at every turn. To this day, residents continue to suffer because of the reckless decisions of former Governor Snyder and others, and we hope to provide a measure of justice and some much-needed relief to those still struggling to recover."
The three judges of the United States Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals voted to uphold the 2019 decision of U.S. District Court Judge Judith Levy reinstating former Governor Snyder, and nearly all other state and city officials named, as a defendants in the suit. In the majority opinion, the Court wrote that:
“Plaintiffs’ allegations here demonstrate that Governor Snyder personally was aware that Flint River water was contaminated and that he personally made the decision to switch the City from the [Detroit Water and Sewage Department] to Flint River water. The allegations demonstrate that Snyder personally understood not just from public reports, but from his own staff, that Flint residents were being poisoned.
Plaintiffs’ allegations demonstrate that Snyder downplayed the problem and delayed taking action to protect the people of Flint, first by refusing to switch back to the DWSD, then by failing to supply Flint residents with protective supplies, and finally by waiting three months after the City connected back to the DWSD to declare a state of emergency. Snyder’s alleged role in creating, failing to mitigate, and covering up the crisis plausibly demonstrates deliberate indifference.”
Flint residents’ Amended Complaint includes allegations questioning how Governor Snyder and his administration responded to the unfolding crisis. The complaint alleges that Snyder and his staff were aware of the health risks associated with the city’s transition to Flint River water, including the risk of Legionnaires’ disease, for months before an official announcement was made and that they concealed this information from the public. As Governor Snyder’s Chief of Staff wrote in an email, “the people there [in Flint] just seem to be getting a raw deal from the city, particularly in terms of the information they are getting.” Yet Snyder and his administration waited months to declare a state of emergency in Flint, depriving citizens of important resources.
The victims allege that officials from the state of Michigan, the city of Flint, Genesee County and two private engineering firms created the public health crisis, having made calculated decisions that “deliberately exposed” residents of Flint to the harmful health effects of lead.
Michael Pitt, with Pitt McGehee Palmer & Rivers and Co-lead counsel, stated that “the lawsuit seeks to hold these officials and engineering firms accountable and we will not stop until relief to the Flint community is achieved.”
In addition to financial relief, plaintiffs are asking the Court to require repairs to private property, the establishment of medical monitoring and appointment of a monitor who will assist in the development of other remedial plans including early education and intervention programs.
The case is Carthan v. Snyder, case number 5:16-cv-10444, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. The plaintiffs are represented by national plaintiffs’ law firm Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll and Michigan civil rights law firm Pitt McGehee Palmer & Rivers.
About Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC
Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC is a national leader in plaintiff class action lawsuits and litigation. As one of the premier firms in the country handling major complex cases, Cohen Milstein, with 100 attorneys, has offices in Washington, D.C., Chicago, New York City, Philadelphia, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. and Raleigh, N.C. For more information, visit www.cohenmilstein.com or call (561) 515-1400.
About Pitt McGehee Palmer & Rivers
Located in Royal Oak, Pitt McGehee Palmer & Rivers PC is Michigan’s largest law firm specializing in civil rights litigation exclusively on behalf of the victims of governmental, corporate and workplace abuse Its. attorneys represent clients in a broad range of actions, including sexual harassment, wrongful discharge, whistleblower issues and discrimination