Energy & Environment

Flint class action suit against Mich. officials can proceed, court rules

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A class-action lawsuit by residents of Flint, Mich., against state and local officials can proceed, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday. 

State Supreme Court justices in a 4-2 decision rejected a bid to end the civil case against former Gov. Rick Snyder (R), state environmental and health authorities, and former city emergency managers.

The lawsuit alleges that actions taken by officials resulted in residents receiving contaminated tap water. It also claims that state officials downplayed health risks and told people it was safe to drink the water. 

The majority opinion stated that the residents “sufficiently alleged a claim” to have the suit proceed. 

“Viewed in the light most favorable to plaintiffs and accepting their factual allegations as true, the pleadings established that defendants’ actions were a substantial cause of the decline in plaintiffs’ property value, that defendants took affirmative actions directed at plaintiffs’ property, and that plaintiffs suffered a unique or special injury,” the opinion said. 

Two justices, however, disagreed, arguing that the plaintiffs were too late in filing their case. 

“Plaintiffs filed their complaint on January 21, 2016, and thus the event giving rise to the cause of action must have happened on or after July 21, 2015, for plaintiffs’ action to have been filed in a timely manner,” they wrote. “Because plaintiffs alleged in their complaint and in their amended complaint that the event giving rise to the cause of action was the switching of the water supply on April 25, 2014 … plaintiffs’ action was untimely.”

After a decision to change the city’s water source from Lake Huron to the Flint River, Flint residents reported hair loss, skin rashes, lead poisoning and Legionnaire’s disease, from which 12 people ultimately died.

Tags Flint Flint water crisis Michigan

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