Judge Approves $626 Million Settlement For Victims Of Flint Water Crisis

A Michigan judge has approved a $626 million settlement to compensate victims of the Flint water crisis. U.S. District Judge Judith Levy called the settlement “a remarkable achievement,” in a 178-page ruling.

The settlement will primarily benefit children who were under the age of 18 that experienced health issues due to lead contamination in the drinking water. It was first announced in August 2020.

“The settlement reached here is a remarkable achievement for many reasons, not the least of which is that it sets forth a comprehensive compensation program and timeline that is consistent for every qualifying participant, regardless of whether they are members of a class or are non-class individuals represented by their own counsel,” Levy wrote.

A predominately Black, low-income community, Flint’s water was deemed undrinkable in 2014 after city officials didn’t heed the advice of state regulators to treat it properly after switching from its Detroit-based water source to the Flint River , according to The Associated Press (AP).

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said from 2014 to 2015 approximately 99,000 Flint residents were exposed to the lead in the water. Lead exposure can cause an array of health issues. It was linked to an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in Flint that killed a dozen people.

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As a result, former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder is facing criminal charges, including two counts of willful neglect of duty. Several others, including members of Snyder’s administration, also face charges.

While Levy and Cory Stern – the attorney representing many of the Flint children who were impacted – praised the settlement, city residents and others said the amount wasn’t enough.

Current Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said the settlement is “an important step forward in the process of helping Flint heal.” However, she acknowledged “What happened in Flint should never have happened, and no amount of money can completely compensate people for what they have endured.”

Users on Twitter were even more emphatic in expressing their disappointment at the settlement amount. “Should’ve been a trillion, but OK,” @FredrickLBishop tweeted. “And how much money ppl get? Like 20 bucks each? Thats a freaking joke… 10yrs later and tons of medical bills,” Twitter user @glitzmagazine wrote.

“The settlement figure doesn’t sound all that generous given the thousands of people who were so wretchedly impacted,” @Aun_Tweedie tweeted. “Right you know that everyone is gonna end up getting 500$ after the lawyer fees and crap,” @7deadly_sinz responded.

Some Flint residents also complained that most of the money would go to children. To this complaint, Levy replied, “It is fair, reasonable, and adequate to award a greater proportion of settlement funds to those who are most vulnerable to the effects of lead and other contaminants.”

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