A civil engineering company will pay $8 million to resolve claims it failed to warn Flint, Michigan, residents of likely lead contamination that triggered a drinking water crisis in the city, according to a proposed settlement filed in federal court.
Class members and individuals suing Lockwood Andrews & Newnam PC for professional negligence urged a Michigan federal court to approve the agreement Tuesday, noting the financial offer was the most the company could afford even if Flint residents were victorious in court.
The proposal comes ahead of a February trial over allegations that another engineering firm, Veolia North America LLC, also failed in its professional duty to warn residents about potential toxic contamination in the city's water system leading to the 2014 crisis. Veolia is not a party to the proposed settlement.
"Given significant limitations on LAN's ability to pay in the event of a favorable verdict, plaintiffs believe the class's interests are best served by securing as much financial relief from LAN now and focusing all remaining efforts on holding the last remaining defendants [Veolia] accountable in the upcoming issues class trial," the residents said.
The planned deal with LAN and its corporate parent Leo A. Daly Co., would add to a $626 million settlement between Flint residents and state and city officials over their alleged responsibility in the disaster.
Half the $8 million total would be paid out to individuals suing LAN, with the other half going to the class, according to the proposal. Nearly all the class allocation would go to a property damage subclass, the residents said. The company also reached settlements last year with four Flint kids who alleged the company contributed to their lead poisoning.
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The class is represented by Theodore J. Leopold of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC and Michael L. Pitt of Pitt McGhee Palmer Bonanni & Rivers PC.