Flint Water Crisis: Affected Families With Children File Lawsuit

Families impacted by the Flint water crisis have decided to seek their day in court by filing a lawsuit alleging negligence and misconduct against key private companies and government employees involved in the matter. At the core of the issue is lead contamination in the city’s primary water supply. This is the 10th lawsuit of this nature filed since it became public knowledge that the Michigan city’s tap water was contaminated. At least 50 children are specifically named in this particular suit as allegedly having been poisoned by the lead.

Yahoo News reports that the lawsuit was filed on Thursday in Genesee county court. The individual plaintiffs are represented by New York attorney Corey Stern who specializes in cases involving child lead poisoning. The plaintiffs are seeking financial compensation.

Defendants named in the suit include Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam, Rowe Professional Services Company, and Veolia North America in addition to two state employees and a city employee.

According to PBS, the Flint water crisis began in 2014 when city officials made the decision to move the city’s water supply from Lake Huron to the Flint River. At the time, they cited that the reason behind the decision was to cut costs involved with water services due to the city’s ongoing financial problems. After the switch was made residents began to complain that the water appeared dirty. Testing was finally undertaken in October of that year which revealed high levels of lead in the blood samples of many of the city’s children. Authorities then declared a state of emergency for Flint.

It was determined that because Flint River’s water was more corrosive than that of Lake Huron it caused lead to leach into the water from the pipes.

The engineering companies named in the suit facilitated the switch of the water sources. Consultant Veolia North America, also named, provided review results in 2015 that indicated that the water complied with city quality standards. The two state workers and one city employee are accused of gross negligence.

Critics of the Flint water crisis have been vocal about the state’s slow response to the issue and some have called for Governor Rick Snyder’s resignation, which he continues to resist.

The presence of lead in the water is significant in that even small amounts can cause permanent damage, especially in children.

A variety of other lawsuits have also been filed in response to the Flint water crisis, including a class-action suit filed on Monday on behalf of “tens of thousands” of Flint residents and property owners. Additional lawsuits include those for plaintiffs seeking compensation for water bills, lead pipe replacements, and injuries to residents as a result of lead poisoning.

It should be noted that residents have been required to continue to pay their water bills despite the fact that the water is contaminated. One impacted Flint resident who has also filed a lawsuit summed up her feelings to CNN about having to make water payments during the crisis.

“You’re paying for poison. I’m paying for water that’s a toxic waste.”

Attorney Stern has indicated that he expects to file an additional 25 more lawsuits covering poisoned children next week.

Flint has an approximate population of 100,000 and is predominantly black. The city’s residents had been drinking the contaminated water for approximately two years as city and state officials continued to ensure them that it was safe. It was later discovered that adding a simple anti-corrosive agent to the water that would cost roughly $100 a day would have prevented the current crisis from taking place. Concerned benefactors have been providing free water filters and bottled water to residents to assist them in trying to protect their health until the crisis is averted.

[Photo by Carlos Osorio/AP Images]