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Criminal Justice & Legal System

Critics say they are "gravely concerned" about proposed Flint water crisis settlement

"We feel like there are too many barriers contained in the settlement that prevent a large majority people in the city from receiving compensation," says Flint Pastor Herbert Miller.
Steve Carmody
/
Michigan Radio
"We feel like there are too many barriers contained in the settlement that prevent a large majority people in the city from receiving compensation," says Flint Pastor Herbert Miller.

Some Flint civic leaders says city residents deserve more than what they are likely to get from a $641 million settlement tied to the Flint water crisis.

Attorneys for the state of Michigan, the city of Flint, McLaren Hospital Flint and a local engineering firm worked with lawyers representing thousands of city residents to hammer out the tentative settlement of many civil lawsuits tied to the Flint water crisis.

A part of the settlement, nearly 80% of the money would be earmarked for children and minors during Flint’s disastrous drinking water switch in 2014 and 2015. The switch resulted in improperly treated river water damaging pipes and releasing lead into the city’s drinking water. Young children are especially at-risk of suffering long-term negative cognitive development and other health issues from high lead exposure.

The rest of the settlement would be divided among Flint residents and others who suffered health and property damage.

U.S. District Court Judge Judith Levy is expected to decide soon whether or not to give the settlement preliminary approval.

But there is a growing chorus in Flint raising concerns about the proposed settlement.

About 30 local officials, religious leaders and activists gathered outside the gates of the city’s water plant Monday to spell out their objections to the parts of the settlement.

“We believe the proposed settlement as currently allocated is just as disrespectful as the injury caused by the water crisis tragedy itself,” says Pastor John McClain.

McClain says the proposed settlement presents too many hurdles for Flint residents and doesn’t pay them enough to cover their damages.

Specifically, critics claim young children may not get their fair share of the settlement if they have not undergone a bone lead test to document their exposure. There are also concerns limits on property damages may not be enough to compensate Flint residents who had to replace appliances and clothes damaged by the city’s tainted tap water.

The settlement's critics have filed a motion with the court sharing their concerns with the settlement as it currently stands.

Judge Levy is scheduled to hear motions in the case on Wednesday.

During a hearing December, the judge promised to make time to hear from all Flint residents about the settlement.

If the judge grants preliminary approval to the settlement, the agreement is expected to undergo additional fine-tuning. Also, Flint residents will also have the option to opt out of the master settlement.

There are also other civil lawsuits not covered by the settlement.

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