Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against Gov. Snyder, State of Michigan, City of Flint and 13 Officials Alleging Health, Property Damages from Lead-Tainted City Water
Suit Says Injuries to Plaintiffs Include Skin Lesions, Hair Loss, Auto-Immune Disorders, Convulsions, Depression
November 15, 2015, Flint, MI – A group of Flint residents have filed a class-action lawsuit against Gov. Rick Snyder, the State of Michigan, the City of Flint and numerous other state and Flint municipal employees for health and property damages resulting from their exposure to lead-tainted city water. The complaint, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Detroit, alleges that the actions of 14 current or former state or Flint municipal employees endangered the health of city residents by exposing them to toxic, lead-tainted water.
According to the complaint, the defendants’ actions “deprived Plaintiffs of life, liberty and property without due process of law when they took from Plaintiffs safe drinking water and replaced it with what they knew to be a highly toxic alternative solely for fiscal purposes.”
The complaint details the experiences of several Flint residents and families exposed to the lead-tainted water resulting in serious physical and psychological injuries to many of the plaintiffs. These include high levels of lead in their bloodstreams; skin lesions and hair loss; chemically-induced hypertension; autoimmune disorders; seizure-like convulsions; depression; and chronic anxiety.
The lawsuit requests that the plaintiffs and all class members be compensated for the physical injuries and property damages resulting from their prolonged exposure to lead-tainted city water. The 30-page complaint also asks that the State of Michigan undertake a wide spectrum of future corrective action, including lifetime medical monitoring for all the children injured by the tainted water.
In addition to Gov. Snyder, additional defendants named in the suit include Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) officials Daniel Wyant, Liane Shektor Smith, Adam Rosenthal and Stephen Cook and current and former City of Flint employees Darnell Earley, Gerald Ambrose, Dayne Walling, Howard Croft and Michael Glasgow.
“Since the claims of these families are grounded in the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, all provisions of the Michigan Governmental Immunity will have no bearing whatsoever on the viability and the power of these claims,” said Bill Goodman, co-counsel for the plaintiffs, “These constitutional violations will be redressed by the Constitution itself and, in no way can they be held hostage to state immunity doctrines.”
In addition, the complaint outlines a chronology of events leading up to and after the decision to switch the primary source of Flint’s drinking water from Lake Huron (via the Detroit Water System) to the Flint River. The lawsuit charges that Flint municipal and MDEQ officials unnecessarily and with deliberate indifference to the health and safety of the Flint residents exposed them to toxic public water for over 18 months.
Representing the plaintiffs are Michael Pitt and Cary McGehee of Pitt McGehee Palmer & Rivers (Royal Oak); Bill Goodman, Julie Hurwitz and Kathryn James of Goodman & Hurwitz (Detroit); Deborah LaBelle of Law Offices of Deborah LaBelle (Ann Arbor); and Trachelle C. Young of Trachelle C. Young & Associates (Flint).
“The failure of the defendants to immediately stop the use of the Flint River as a primary water source, despite knowledge that it was toxic, made the danger far worse than it had been before their involvement,” said plaintiffs co-counsel Michael Pitt. “This action is all about holding the responsible governments and officials accountable for this catastrophe — which didn’t have to happen.”