Judge approves historic settlement over Flint water crisis

Flint youngster Kenise stands in her doorway as cases of bottled water are delivered her doorstep in the Evergreen Regency Apartments in Flint, Michigan, March 5, 2016. Flint residents continue to use bottled water after the drinking water was found to be contaminated with lead after the water source was switched from Detroit Water and Sewerage Dept. to the Flint River in April, 2014. Photo by Molly Riley/UPI

Nov. 11 (UPI) — A federal judge on Wednesday approved a historic $626 million settlement for tens of thousands of victims of the Flint Water Crisis.

In her 178-page opinion, U.S. District Judge Judith Levy of the Eastern District of Michigan Southern Division called the partial settlement “a remarkable achievement” that sets down a “comprehensive program and timeline” to resolve thousands of claims by those impacted by lead in the city of Flint’s water supply system.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said that though this settlement brings only partial relief to the victims, she hopes it represents a positive step in their healing process.

“The people of Flint deserve accountability and to be compensated for any injuries they suffered,” she said in a statement.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between April 2014 and October 2015, some 99,000 residents of Flint, a town located about 70 miles northwest of Detroit, were exposed to lead in their drinking water when the source was switched in a move to save money from Detroit’s main system to the city’s, which got its water from the Flint River.

Nearly 80% of the money will go toward compensating those who were minors when they were exposed to the lead-contaminated water, as they “will experience the more harm than older people,” Levy wrote, with the State of Michigan to pay $600 million of the settlement, with the city of Flint to cover 20 million, McLaren hospitals to pay $5 million and consulting firm Rowe Professional Services Company to cover the remaining $1.25 million.

The agreement was first announced in August of last year with the portion to be paid by the state one of the largest in Michigan history.

The plaintiffs are also seeking additional relief to cover attorney fees, which Levy said will be addressed in a separate opinion.

“What happened in Flint should never have happened, and no amount of money can completely compensate people for what they have endured,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said. “We hope this settlement helps the healing continue as we keep working to make sure that people have access to clean water in Flint and communities all across Michigan.”

Rick Snyder, who was the governor of Michigan in 2014 when the city switched water sources, has been charged with two misdemeanor criminal counts of willful neglect of duty. He has pleaded not guilty.


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