Sunday, August 23, 2020

Michigan to pay $600M in Flint water crisis settlement

Flint residents — especially younger ones — would be eligible for payments from a victim compensation fund under a $600 million preliminary settlement announced Thursday of civil lawsuits arising from the contamination of their drinking water with toxic lead.

Under the proposed settlement, which would involve $600 million in payments from the state:
  • Flint residents would be eligible for hundreds of millions of dollars in payments from a court-monitored victim compensation fund, with nearly 80% of payments going to those who were under 18 at the time of the crisis, which began in April 2014. Children are particularly vulnerable to the toxic effects of lead, which can impact brain development.

  • Attorney fees and costs would be deducted from the $600 million, leaving a lesser amount for distribution. Attorneys expect to be fairly compensated, but it is too soon to say what those fees and costs will be, Pitt said. Attorney contingency fees vary, depending on the case, but it is not unusual for them to amount to one-third of a settlement amount.

  • Parties to the settlement would include "multiple governmental defendants," including the state of Michigan, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, and all individual state defendants, including former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, who left office at the end of 2018.

  • The state would create a dedicated $12-million fund to provide special education and other services for students who suffer long-term health and behavioral impacts from lead poisoning.

  • Litigation would continue against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and private firms that were involved in the tragic switch of Flint's drinking water source from Lake Huron to the Flint River. Those firms include environmental consultant Veolia North America, which advised the city of Flint on water quality issues, and engineering firm Lockwood, Andrews & Newman, involved in preparing the Flint Water Treatment Plant to treat water from the Flint River.

  • About 65% of the money would go to Flint residents who were 6 and under when first exposed to lead in Flint water, with 10% going to those who were between the ages of 7 and 11 and 5% to those who were 12 to 17. About 15% would go to adults, 3% for property damage, and 0.5% to cover business losses.

  • About $35 million would be placed in trust for "forgotten children" who do not file claims within the required time frame, so they are able to file claims once they become adults.

  • Flint residents and businesses who wish to make claims for personal injuries should go to or call 866-536-0717, according to attorneys involved in the case.

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