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Michigan's governor, others, seek dismissal from Flint water lawsuit

Tracy Samilton
Michigan Radio

In a filled-to-capacity federal courtroom in Ann Arbor Wednesday, attorneys for Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, along with other officials and government entities, asked to be dismissed from a lawsuit over the Flint water crisis.

Others seeking dismissal include Flint's former state-appointed emergency managers Ed Kurtz, Darnell Earley, and Gerald Ambrose; former Flint mayor Dayne Walling; former State Treasurer Andy Dillon, MDHHS director Nick Lyon; and several officials with the state Department of Environmental Quality.

Attorneys for Snyder argued he has qualified immunity from the lawsuit, and that he is not responsible for the actions of state-appointed emergency managers, who switched Flint to more corrosive river water in 2014, and kept the city on the water despite growing evidence it was unsafe.

Michael Pitt is one of the attorneys for Flint residents.  He says Snyder knew about the issues with the city's water for ten months before officials finally admitted it.  

"The evidence that he knew that there was a serious problem in Flint is overwhelming," says Pitt. "He personally hurt a lot of people in Flint and he deserves to be held accountable for what he did."

Plaintiffs who came to observe the hearing included Takisha Moller. Moller says it's wrong for Snyder and the other officials to try to evade responsibility for what happened.

Moller says her three-year-old is not growing properly, which she blames on the lead-tainted water she drank during pregnancy. She says others have it even worse.

"And for them not to want to compensate us," she says, "that's heart-breaking, and messed up."

Plaintiff Ariana Hawk wants people to understand the crisis is not over. She says she's still waiting for lead test results to come back for the water in her house, and she's still waiting for the lead service line to her house to be replaced. 

Moller says she pays about $178 a month for water she doesn't trust for drinking, and on top of that she must now buy her own bottled water since the state has stopped providing it.

U.S. District Judge Judith Levy says she recognizes that Flint residents are now four years out from the crisis, and they deserve swift consideration of their claims. She says she'll issue an opinion on the motions to dismiss as soon as possible.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Radio. She began her career at Michigan Radio as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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