Energy & Environment

Judge approves $600 million settlement over Flint water crisis

FILE – The Flint water plant tower is pictured on Jan. 6, 2022, in Flint, Mich. A judge dismissed criminal charges against former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder in the Flint water crisis, months after the state Supreme Court said indictments returned by a one-person grand jury were invalid. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File)

Michigan will pay $600 million to settle lawsuits over the contamination of Flint’s water supply, which combined with settlements from the city and a local hospital will comprise the largest legal settlement in the state’s history.

Attorney General Dana Nessel (D) said in a statement Tuesday that a county judge has formally approved the settlement, more than two years after another court issued a preliminary approval.

The settlement includes $600 million from the state, $20 million from the city, $5 million from McLaren Regional Medical Center and $1.5 million from Rowe Professional Services.

The original preliminary agreement included $20 million rather than $5 million from McLaren. The Hill has reached out to Nessel’s office for clarification.

The preliminary agreement, which Judge Judith E. Levy of the Eastern District of Michigan okayed in January 2021, earmarks 80 percent of the net funds for people who were minors when exposed to contaminated water in Flint and another 18 percent toward adults’ claims and property damage claims.

A further 2 percent will go toward special education services in Genesee County and the remaining 8 percent will go to business losses.

“This historic settlement cannot undo the unimaginable hardship and heartbreaking health effects these families and children in Flint have endured,” Nessel said. “This ruling provides families with much needed compensation for the injuries they have suffered. I am proud of my team’s tireless work on behalf of the people of Flint.”

State officials in 2014 allowed the predominantly-Black city to switch the source of its drinking water from Lake Huron and the Detroit River to the Flint River, leading to the exposure of up to 12,000 children to lead-contaminated water.

In addition to the lead contamination, the transition resulted in a Legionnaires’ Disease outbreak that killed at least 12 people. Several officials, including former Gov. Rick Snyder (R), were also criminally charged in connection with the crisis, but a court would later drop charges against seven of them, including Snyder.

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