It will be another week before a federal judge expects to decide whether to give preliminary approval to a massive settlement of Flint water crisis related lawsuits.
During a brief hearing Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge Judith Levy said she may need until January 21 to complete her written ruling. She had originally hoped to have her decision ready by the end of this week.
It’s an important step in the $641 million settlement between the state of Michigan, the city of Flint and others being sued by Flint residents over health and property damages sustained during the water crisis.
Nearly 80% of the settlement funds would be earmarked for plaintiffs who were young children or minors at the time of the 2014-2015 drinking water switch. Improperly treated water damaged pipes, which released lead and other contaminates into the city's drinking water. Young children are especially vulnerable to long-term health issues when exposed to high levels of lead.
Attorneys say they are also addressing a key demand of critics of the settlement.
During the same hearing, co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs, Ted Leopold, says they are making “strong headway” on expanding bone lead scanning.
Critics contend many Flint children are unable to get the test, which could be critical for them to receive adequate compensation.
Leopold told the federal judge that it will take a few more weeks to work out how to expand the testing. But he added they have a “good core group of doctors” to assist with making the testing more accessible.