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Colleen Liggins of Flint stands with a sign for the firing of Governor Rick Snyder while protesting with others in front of Flint City Hall on Friday, Jan. 8, 2016. (Photo: Ryan Garza Detroit Free Press)

Flint Moves to Sue Michigan Over Water Contamination Fallout

Though no lawsuit yet, city places onus on state officials for decisions that ultimately caused lead poisoning of community residents

Andrea Germanos

Flint has made moves to sue the state of Michigan, citing "grossly negligent oversight" that led to the city's ongoing water contamination crisis.

The city filed a notice of intent to sue with the Court of Claims on March 24, and it was reported on by various Michigan news outlets on Friday.

It names the state, the Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), and four MDEQ employees as defendants.

Flint mayor Karen Weaver wrote in the notice of intention to file claim, which the Flint Journal has posted here (pdf), that "the damage to the water system infrastructure caused by the MDEQ employees' grossly negligent oversight is irreversible."

"The City made its decision to switch its water source to the Flint River from April 2014 through October 2015 in reliance on the authorizations, directions, and advice given by the MDEQ. As a direct and proximate result, the City has suffered or will suffer damage to its municipal water distribution system, emergency response costs arising out of the declaration of a state of emergency, attendant ongoing medical claims," and other damages, Weaver wrote, "which are or will be the subject of legal and equitable claims against the City and it [sic] current and former employees."

Currently, no actual lawsuit has begun, but as Weaver explained, she had to keep the possibility of one open.

"I have no intention at this point of having the City of Flint sue the state. However, the City of Flint would have forfeited its right to file a lawsuit in the future if I had not filed an official 'Notice of Intention to File a Claim' by the March 25 deadline. As the elected leader of Flint, I needed to preserve the city's right to pursue a legal remedy if it is determined a lawsuit is necessary in the future," a statement from Weaver reads. 

On top of this potential suit, the Wall Street Journal reported last month, "At least a dozen lawsuits have been filed in federal, state and local courts on behalf of Flint residents, with several seeking class-action status. Some suits name Gov. Snyder, state environmental regulators, the former Flint mayor or the city’s past emergency managers as defendants."


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