Former Gov. Rick Snyder is again a defendant in Flint water class action lawsuit | Michigan Radio
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Former Gov. Rick Snyder is again a defendant in Flint water class action lawsuit

Apr 1, 2019

Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A federal judge has reinserted former Governor Rick Snyder as a defendant in a massive civil lawsuit.

The suit seeks damages related to the Flint water crisis.

Last Summer, United States District Judge Judith Levy agreed with a defense motion to drop the former governor from the civil lawsuit. In her August 1st opinion, the judge decided the plaintiffs had failed to plausibly assert a bodily integrity claim against Governor Snyder.

But Levy’s new opinion reverses that.

“Plaintiffs plausibly state that the Governor acted indifferently to the risk of harm they faced, demonstrating a callous disregard for their right to bodily integrity. This indifference manifested itself in two ways. Initially, the Governor was indifferent because instead of mitigating the risk of harm caused by the contaminated water, he covered it up. In private, he worried about the need to return Flint to DWSD water and the political implications of the crisis. But in public, he denied all knowledge, despite being aware of the developing crisis.  As a result, plaintiffs were lured into a false sense of security. They could have taken protective measures, if only they had known what the Governor knew. Instead, the Governor misled them into assuming that nothing was wrong.  Governor Snyder’s administration even encouraged them to continue to drink and bathe in the water.”

Attorneys filed an amended complaint last fall in which they allege the former governor and his staff were aware of the health risks tied to switching Flint’s drinking water source to the Flint River in 2014.

“We know that former Governor Snyder’s administration was well aware of the emerging public health issues in Flint and we’re pleased that the Court recognized today that he must face justice for that,” says Michael L. Pitt, co-lead Plaintiffs’ attorney.

In 2017, ten related federal class action lawsuits were consolidated into one suit, which could seek damages for tens of thousands of Flint residents.

Flint’s drinking water became contaminated with lead after the city’s water source was switched from Detroit to the Flint River. The river water was not properly treated. During the time Flint’s tap water came from the Flint River, a Legionnaires Disease outbreak occurred in Genesee County. At least 12 people died from 2014 until the end of 2015.