The settlement agreement of the class-action lawsuit against the State of Michigan and former governer Rick Snyder on behalf of the residents of the city of Flint increased on November 17 when three additional defendants agreed to settle their respective lawsuits, instead of continuing litigation. The civil case relates to the six year health crisis which followed negligent contamination by city officials of the Flint's drinking water supply with lead and other metals.
The city of Flint, McLaren Regional Medical Center and city engineering contractor Rowe Professional Services together added an additional $41 Million USD to the $600 Million USD agreed by the State in August. Settlement details were also presented for review and preliminary approval.
The water company Veolia, the engineering firm Lockwood, Andrews & Newman, and the US Environmental Protection Agency are not included in this settlement.
The agreement with the State et al has been structured so that the most vulnerable at the time of the drinking water crisis, primarily children under the age of 18, will be eligible for approximately 80 Percent of the compensation. Lead poisoning is particularly toxic to children and impacts brain development.
The settlement also allows for claims by any adult who had exposure to the water from 2014 to 2018 and business owners who suffered economic losses in addition to property owners who were affected.
According to Courthouse News Service, under the terms of the updated settlement, 79.5% of the funds will be apportioned to minor children and a $35 million fund will be established for future minor claimants. Adult victims and property damage claims will account for 18% of the money and less than 1% is allocated for business losses. Another 2% will be used for a dedicated fund to offer special education to those who developed long-term neurological damage from the dirty water.
“This settlement agreement is just one of the many ways we will continue showing our support for the city and residents of Flint,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in a statement. “The details of the proposal that have been presented to the judge are an important step forward and we are committed to helping the residents of Flint participate in this process as we all work together towards the brighter future that Flint deserves.”
“While no amount of money will heal the wounds inflicted on this community, we are glad to see more entities step up and take responsibility,” Mayor Sheldon Neeley said. “The residents of the City of Flint deserve justice and they deserve a resolution to these lawsuits.”
Read more from OOSKAnews here.
Flint’s water crisis began in 2014 when a state-appointed emergency manager switched the city’s drinking water supply from Lake Huron water treated in Detroit to Flint River water treated at the Flint Water Treatment plant. This was intended to save money and to be a temporary measure.
However, appropriate anti-corrosion chemicals were omitted from the new treatment arrangement. Aging pipes and fixtures in the system subsequently leached lead into the drinking water, causing a spike in toxic lead levels in the blood of Flint children. Water in homes was discoloured and foul-smelling. Residents complained for over a year before the state acknowledged that there was a problem.
Flint switched back to Detroit water in October 2015, but the damage was already done to the city’s water infrastructure.