Supreme Court will allow Flint water contamination lawsuits
There have been two class action lawsuits filed against local and state officials by residents of Flint, Michigan. Claimants say the lead contamination which has plagued the city for almost four years and counting infringe upon their civil rights.
After lower courts threw the cases out, the Supreme Court left in place a ruling handed down by the 6th Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, Ohio which allowed for the litigation to proceed. Additionally, separate appeals by the city of Flint, Genessee County’s drainage commissioner and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality officials are also moving forward.
Flint, which is a predominantly Black city, has been suffering since city leadership made a choice to switch the water supply from Lake Huron to the Flint River in 2014 in order to save money. This water source was known to be polluted, and lead naturally leaked from the pipes used to deliver the water to residential homes.
No amount of lead in a water supply is considered safe and it has been well-established that lead poisoning stunts children’s cognitive growth, as we have reported previously.
Even though the city switched back to Lake Huron in 2015, lead content in the water remained above federal standards until early 2017. This crisis has prompted several lawsuits against the city, state, and Michigan Governor Rick Synder.
In June of 2017, six current and former city and state officials were charged with crimes, five of whom with involuntary manslaughter because the water pollution lead to an outbreak of Legionnaire’s Disease that killed twelve people.