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Major settlement 'imminent' in Flint Water Crisis class action lawsuits

Flint, Michigan still dealing with water crisis
Posted at 5:46 PM, Aug 19, 2020

FLINT, Mich. (WXYZ) — Multiple sources tell 7 Action News that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel are expected to announce on Friday a $600 million settlement in the Flint Water Crisis. The settlement would be to pay claims in several lawsuits seeking damages for lead poisoning and Legionnaires Disease that have been pending in court for years.

“They’ve been very tight-lipped about really what it’s going to be and what it’s going to look like," Flint Mayor Sheldon Neely told 7 Action News on Wednesday. "I just know that the announcement is coming very soon.”

Mike Snyder’s father John died of Legionnaires Disease in June 2015. He tells 7 Action News today he’s been told by his attorneys, “We’ve been negotiating. There’s a settlement imminent. But that’s all we’re at liberty to say at this time.” Snyder is no relation to former Gov. Rick Snyder. He says he has not been told a dollar amount.

Sources say the amount will be $600 million and there is a formula to distribute it. While that seems like a lot, compare that to the Michigan State University settlement in the sexual assault case of Dr. Larry Nassar – Some $500 million is going to some 500 survivors.

In the Flint cases, there could be some 8,000 kids with some level of lead poisoning and more than 150 people died of Legionnaires Disease.

Former Gov. Rick Snyder ordered Flint under a state takeover to switch off Detroit water in 2014 to save money. Free water was used from the Flint River but it was more corrosive and not properly treated.

Flint’s mayor is not sure if this settlement means the city is off the hook for civil liability.

“My hope is this relives the city because the city is also a defendant as a byproduct of the plaintiffs," Mayor Neely said. "The city had to be part of the litigation against the state as well. So, it’s a passthrough.”

However tonight, sources tell 7 Action News this only settles claims made against the state. The City of Flint and several other defendants are not part of this.

When asked about the settlement Tuesday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer would only say, “there is more information that is coming. I’m not at liberty to share it at this juncture. But I believe come Friday there will be a lot more detail we’ll be able to share."

Mayor Neely says this is an important step adding, “It allows Flint residents to move forward in a positive way getting out of the mindset of being victims but more as victors. And that’s where we need to move as a community.”

Other families in Flint are saying they can’t comment until the settlement is formally announced.