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Criminal Justice & Legal System

Federal judge orders extension to Flint water settlement claims deadline

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Steve Carmody
/
Michigan Radio
Flint water plant, Flint, Michigan

A federal judge has given Flint residents more time to file a claim for a share of a $626 million legal settlement tied to the Flint water crisis.

Monday morning, U.S. District Court Judge Judith Levy extended the deadline for people to file a claim until June 30. The original deadline had been this Thursday.

More than 50,000 people applied to be part of the settlement of damage claims against the state of Michigan, the city of Flint, McLaren Flint Hospital and Rowe Professional Services. But as of last week, only about 13,000 claims had been filed.

As Special Master Deborah Greenspan oversees the Flint water settlement claims process. In a report to Judge Levy, Greenspan recommended extending the deadline.

“Some individuals have...expressed confusion about the settlement process and mistakenly believed that registering for the settlement was sufficient to recover under the settlement and did not understand that they also needed to submit Claim Forms and Claims Materials.”

In her order extending the deadline until the end of next month, Judge Levy noted “some claimants have experienced delays or difficulties in obtaining certain required documents.”

Nearly 80% of the settlement funds are earmarked for plaintiffs who were children at the time when Flint’s drinking water was contaminated with lead. Children are at particular risk of long-term health problems when exposed to high levels of lead.

Flint’s water crisis began in April 2014, when the city’s drinking water source was switched from Detroit’s water system to the Flint River. The river water was not properly treated. River water damaged aging pipes connecting Flint homes and businesses to city water mains, releasing lead and other contaminants into the city’s drinking water.

18 months later, Flint returned to Detroit water, but by then the damage had been done.