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Criminal Justice & Legal System

Another lawsuit filed because of Flint water crisis, this time on behalf of 7 families with kids

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Steve Carmody
/
Michigan Radio

Another class action lawsuit was filed today in connection to the Flint water crisis.

This is at least the fifth lawsuit filed in federal court because of high levels of lead in Flint’s drinking water.

This lawsuit was filed on behalf of seven Flint families, each with young children who have elevated levels of lead in their blood. NBC News profiled one of the families yesterday.

Their attorney, Hunter Shkolnik, would like to see the government set up a fund for the victims of the crisis.

“Hopefully it’ll happen sooner rather than later and these people will get some compensation quicker but if not we’re going to keep proceeding with the lawsuit,” Shkolnik said.

The lawsuit alleges violations of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. It names several state and city government officials, and a few engineering companies that were hired to help switch Flint’s water source.

Shkolnik says federal law requires government to protect residents from being poisoned by their tap water.

“This is not you know, did someone do something wrong? There’s no question someone did something wrong, a lot of people, now we have to deal with the tragedy and how to fix it. These people have to be compensated,” he said.

The suit alleges that tens of thousands of residents have suffered physical and economic injuries and damages. It seeks class action status, a jury trial and unspecified damages.

Water problems in Flint began after the city switched its water supply from Detroit's system in 2014 to save money.

A spokesman for Governor Rick Snyder, who is named in the lawsuit, did not respond for a request to comment on this story by deadline; neither did a spokeswoman for the city of Flint. A spokeswoman for Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality said the agency does not comment on pending litigation.

A spokesman for Lockwood, Andrews and Newman, an engineering company hired to help Flint with the water switch issued this written statement:

We sympathize with those who may have been affected by the Flint water tragedy. But the fact remains that Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam (LAN) was asked to provide a limited scope of engineering services to address specific components of the existing water treatment plant not the overall water quality. The actual tasks are set forth in the public contracts between the parties. The systems we provided services on are operating without issue, and it is clear that LAN provided these specific services in a responsible and appropriate manner in accordance with industry standards. Decisions concerning the optimization plan for corrosion control were made by the city and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and not by LAN. LAN continues to assist the City of Flint as it addresses the various water issues confronting the City today.
Given that the allegations in this complaint mischaracterize LAN’s role, we will vigorously defend our position in court.

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