Lawyers representing residents of Flint, Michigan, filed a damage claim against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today, slamming the federal agency for its failure to protect the citizens of Flint from the disastrous contamination of Flint’s water supply. The damages claim alleges that the EPA is responsible for upward of $220.2 million in damages.
While a damages claim against a federal agency like the EPA isn’t exactly a lawsuit, it is legally required before a lawsuit can be filed against a federal agency, reports Yahoo! News. The lawyers filing the damages claim allege that the EPA is responsible in part for the Flint water crisis, causing harm to over five hundred citizens of Flint, Michigan.
“If the EPA had followed the advice of its own expert, many of the injuries to the people of Flint could have been avoided or minimized,” said Michael Pitt, an attorney with the law firm Pitt, McGehee, Palmer & Rivers.
The law firm responsible for the $220 million damages claim stated today that they intend to file an additional claim next week, covering damages to an additional 250 residents of Flint, Michigan, who were affected by the Flint water crisis.
Lawyers file $220 million damage claim against EPA in Flint water crisis: (Reuters) - Lawyers for residents o... https://t.co/30XbgmQ2JQ— mobileauto (@mobileauto) April 26, 2016
The damage claim against the EPA alleges that the Flint water crisis may have been averted completely or at least in large part mitigated if the EPA had acted sooner. The $220 million damage complaint alleges that the EPA possessed relevant information, which the agency chose to ignore, causing Flint residents to suffer further exposure to toxic levels of lead. The $220 million damage complaint alleges that the EPA should be held responsible for the acts and omissions of its employees. Cited in the complaint was an email from EPA water expert Miguel Del Toral to an EPA regional chief in which Del Toral states that it would be “criminally negligent” not to warn Flint residents about the widespread lead contamination.
The $220 million damage complaint was filed yesterday, and the EPA responded today, stating that it will review the complaint but has not otherwise addressed the allegations made in the complaint. The attorneys who filed the damage complaint represent a large number of plaintiffs who have been affected by the Flint water crisis, and the complaint is filled with serious allegations of misconduct on the part of the EPA, reports Crain’s Detroit.
The problem of toxic heavy metals dissolved in tap water across the country is too serious to ignore. https://t.co/61USU7k79q— Brandon Luce (@BrandonLuce) April 26, 2016
According to the complaint, one EPA employee told the Flint Mayor Dayne Walling, who was in office at the time, that Del Toral’s report should be kept under wraps to avoid political fallout. Further, the complaint alleges that this employee went on to speak with Michigan Department of Environmental Quality employees, instructing them to cover up any knowledge of Del Toral’s early report on the poisonous water from the Flint River.
“You all never received the report from Miguel,” said an unnamed employee, according to the $220 million damage complaint filed yesterday.
The $220 million damage claim against the EPA comes just after three individuals were criminally charged for their involvement in the Flint water crisis, including two Michigan state officials and a Flint city employee. Back in April 2014, when the change was made to the Flint water supply, the city was under the control of a state-appointed emergency manager who authorized the switch to the water from the Flint River, which was more corrosive. Switching to the Flint River had disastrous consequences. The water was so corrosive it stripped lead out of Flint’s aging water infrastructure, causing many of the city’s residents to be exposed to deadly levels of lead.
The EPA complaint goes on to lay blame at the EPA’s feet, citing early reports that warned the EPA of the impending Flint water crisis. The Inquisitr previously reported on pending lawsuits against regulators responsible for the Flint water crisis.
[Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images]