In the final few days before Monday’s deadline to opt-in or opt-out of the settlement, people stood in long lines outside the Flint water settlement law office in downtown Flint. Many needed help filling out the settlement forms.
But it appears the wait was successful.
An attorney estimates 50,000 people signed up for a share of the $641-million Flint water crisis settlement by the deadline.
Settlement co-lead counsel Michael Pitt says the applications are still being tabulated. He expects more definitive numbers will be available at a status conference next Wednesday. But Pitt says the initial numbers are “robust.”
“We think this is right on,” says Pitt. “We think this is pretty close to what we had predicted when we started the case.”
The settlement fund was set up to settle civil claims related to the Flint water crisis against the state of Michigan, the city of Flint, McLaren-Flint hospital and Rowe Professional Services.
The bulk of the settlement is earmarked for Flint children.
Young children are especially at risk of cognitive development and other health issues when exposed to lead. The city’s ill-fated switch to the Flint River as its drinking water source ended up exposing city residents to elevated lead levels in their drinking water.
Pitt says that over the next several months, the claims administrator will review the applications and obtain documentation to support the various claims. Some of the applications will likely be denied. There are concerns many Flint residents may not have adequate documentation of the health problems they developed during the city’s water crisis.
Pitt expects there will only be a few hundred people officially opting out of the settlement, with a similar number of objections to aspects of the settlement also being filed.
A federal judge plans to hold a hearing in July to review the objections.
Before then, there are still several legal obstacles left to be resolved. The attorneys' request for nearly a third of the settlement is one controversy U.S. District Court Judge Judith Levy must resolve.
Barring any major changes, the judge is expected give final approval to the settlement later this year.