© 2022 MICHIGAN RADIO
91.7 Ann Arbor/Detroit 104.1 Grand Rapids 91.3 Port Huron 89.7 Lansing 91.1 Flint
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Bellwether trial set to begin in Flint water crisis lawsuit

The interior of the Flint water plant.
Mandel Ngan
/
AFP/Getty Images
The interior of the Flint water plant.

Jury selection is scheduled to begin Tuesday in federal court in Ann Arbor in a lawsuit tied to the Flint water crisis.

The case involves legal claims by four children against two engineering companies over their alleged negligence involved in Flint’s lead tainted drinking water.

In 2014, the city of Flint’s drinking water source was switched as part of an effort to save money. But the river water was not properly treated. A lack of chemicals to reduce the water’s corrosiveness damaged pipes, releasing lead and other contaminants into Flint’s drinking water.

By 2015, tests showed elevated levels of lead in the blood of Flint children. Lead may cause long-term negative health effects, especially in young children.

Veolia North America (VNA) and Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam (LAN) were hired as consultants on Flint’s water system.

Attorneys for VNA and LAN deny their clients were negligent. The lawyers say their clients are not responsible for the plaintiffs’ alleged injuries.

In recent weeks, U.S. District Court Judge Judith Levy has issued a series of decisions on motions in the case. She’ll preside over the trial which is expected to take four months.

This is a bellwether case. It’s called that because it could predict how other plaintiffs may fare if they decide to proceed to trial against these defendants.

The VNA and LAN are not part of the $626 million settlement of other Flint water claims. More than 50,000 people agreed to drop claims against the state of Michigan, the city of Flint and two other businesses in exchange for a share of that settlement.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Radio since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
Related Content
  • US Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Flint Township, is calling on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to conduct a thorough investigation into what led to Flint's…
  • In this series, Michigan Radio's Lindsey Smith looks at how the Flint water crisis has affected, or could affect, other water systems in Michigan - especially those with lead water service lines. It also considers how potential changes to lead in water rules at the federal, and especially the state level, will impact water systems. Scroll below to see the entire series of reports.
  • What would you do if your tap water turned brown? If it gave your children a rash every time they took a bath? Or worse, what if it made them sick? Read, watch, and listen to the stories below to uncover the wild story about how the water in Flint became Not Safe To Drink. And you can find ALL of our coverage of the Flint Water Crisis here.