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Flint to pay $20M of $640M settlement over lead-tainted water

Flint to pay $20M of $640M settlement over lead-tainted water
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The city of Flint, Mich., has agreed to pay $20 million to residents as part of a class action settlement seeking damages for exposure to lead-tainted water, joining a larger settlement expected to reach $640 million.

Flint is joining the settlement alongside two other defendants, McLaren Regional Medical Center and Rowe Professional Services Co., a city contractor. In total, they are contributing $40 million in additional funding to a $600 million settlement brokered between the state and Flint residents in August.

“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,” Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley (D) said in a press release. 

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“The residents of the City of Flint deserve justice and they deserve a resolution to these lawsuits.”

Nearly 80 percent of the funds will be given to children in Flint, the majority being routed to those under 6 at first exposure — the highest risk group for the damaging effects of lead poisoning. Another nearly 20 percent will go to the city’s adult residents.

The agreement, one of many legal battles fought by residents since lead-tainted water began flowing through their pipes in 2014, followed more than a year and a half of negotiations.

The $20 million owed by cash-strapped Flint will be paid for by the city’s insurer.

McLaren, the hospital, will pay $20 million, and Rowe is contributing $1.25 million. 

The settlement must still be approved by a judge before the payments can be dispersed.

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“Submitting this settlement for preliminary approval is part of the legal process, but it is also an important step forward in providing the residents of Flint with relief,” Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel (D) said in a release. 

“Without this settlement, which makes affected children a top priority, Flint residents would have been provided little assurance that their claims would be successful in court, and ongoing litigation could have prolonged their hardships for years.” 

Other cases against the state and federal government are still working their way through the court system.

The Supreme Court in January ruled cases against state and local officials could proceed, and a case filed by residents against the Environmental Protection Agency is also active.