News Feature | April 2, 2018

Supreme Court Greenlights Flint Class-Action Lawsuits

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome
@sarmje

Supreme Court Greenlights Flint Class-Action Lawsuits

Flint residents received a positive ruling from the Supreme Court in March, allowing them to proceed with their legal battles.

“The U.S. Supreme Court on gave the green light to two class-action lawsuits filed by residents of Flint, MI, who are pursuing civil rights claims against local and state officials over lead contamination in the city’s water supply,” Reuters reported.

“The justices left in place a July 2017 ruling by the Cincinnati, Ohio-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that revived the litigation after the lawsuits were thrown out by a lower court,” the report stated.

“The Supreme Court's decision not to get involved means the cases will return to the trial court to move forward,” the Associated Press reported.

The city of Flint, Genesee County’s drainage commissioner, and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality officials had pushed back against the class-action lawsuits.

In addition, in a separate lawsuit, a major settlement was approved by a federal court judge in March to the tune of $87 million, according to The Detroit Free Press. Under the terms of the deal, the state will pay Flint to replace 18,000 unsafe water lines in the next two years.

“The deal also requires the state to hold an additional $10 million in reserve, in case it is needed, bringing the total cost as high as $97 million. And it requires the state to pay $895,000 to the plaintiffs who brought the 2016 lawsuit, to cover their litigation costs. On the flip side, the plaintiffs won't get door-to-door delivery of bottled water in Flint to the extent they had requested,” the report said.

Flint’s lead crisis, which left hundreds of children with high blood lead levels, followed the city’s switch from the Detroit water supply to Flint River water. When Flint changed sources, it became responsible for its own treatment processes. The city has since returned to Detroit water provided by the Great Lakes Water Authority.

Image credit: "20161004-FNS-LSC-0039," U.S. Department of Agriculture, 2016. Public Domain: https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/mark/1.0/