Dozens of Flint residents have sued government officials alleging that in 2014 they switched the city’s source of water to the Flint River knowing it would be dangerous to consume. Last year, those lawsuits were consolidated into one class action lawsuit. Last week, a federal judge in Ann Arbor said she would issue a written opinion on the suit.
The defendants claim that they shouldn’t be included in the lawsuit because of government immunity and also because the allegations didn’t meet legal standards. Sheldon Klein, the attorney for the city of Flint, argued that the case failed to meet the legal requirements of the equal protection clause, which requires that different groups of people were treated unequally. Klein argues that the water crisis affected all people in the city of Flint equally. Michael Pitt, who represents the Flint residents, argued that race played a role in the decision to switch the city’s, as opposed to the whole county’s, water to the Flint River.
There is little doubt that the Flint River was contaminated and that, when it became the source of the city’s drinking water, that residents experienced severe medical problems as a result of exposure to lead in the water. Whether or not the government officials who oversaw the water source switch can be held responsible remains to be seen, but the case is certainly stronger as a class action lawsuit than as a single plaintiff. The class action lawsuit is a powerful tool that can affect change and hold those in power responsible for their actions. In this case, we hope justice is served.
For more information about this case, check out the Detroit News coverage here: https://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/michigan/flint-water-crisis/2018/07/11/judge-weighs-whether-dismiss-snyder-others-flint-water-lawsuit/777114002/