U.S. District Judge Judith Levy ruled Wednesday that a class action lawsuit in the Flint water crisis can move forward.
But the judge dismissed Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder from the litigation.
In her 128-page opinion, the judge says the plaintiffs did not show the governor was aware of potential health and safety risks posed by switching the city’s drinking water to the Flint River. A spokesman for the governor declined to comment on the judge’s decision.
The judge also dismissed former DEQ director Dan Wyant, former Mayor Dayne Walling, state health department employee Nancy Peeler, and former Flint emergency manager Ed Kurtz as defendants. Judge Levy also ruled that the state of Michigan is protected by "sovereign immunity."
The judge also knocked off several claims in the suit.
The class action suit is seeking damages for tens of thousands of Flint residents exposed to tainted drinking water during the city’s water crisis.
The decision was welcomed by the attorneys leading the class action lawsuit.
Co-lead attorney Theodore Leopold calls the judge’s ruling “a welcome affirmation “ that government must be held accountable. While fellow co-lead attorney Michael Pitt concedes the judge’s ruling narrows the focus of the lawsuit. He adds “the heart of the case is very much alive.” Still, others are displeased the judge dismissed Gov. Snyder from the suit. Flint state senator Jim Ananich says “an opportunity for justice was taken from the hurting families and businesses of Flint who were wronged by this man.” Flint Mayor Karen Weaver echoed Ananich's disappointment. "I am saddened to hear that a federal judge has given the State of Michigan, Governor Snyder, and the former head of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality a free pass, dismissing them from the lawsuit," says Weaver, "It must be nice to be Governor Rick Snyder or an official or appointee of the Governor."