Judge lets Flint residents' lawsuit against state move ahead - WNEM TV 5

Judge lets Flint residents' lawsuit against state move ahead

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A Michigan judge has ruled in favor of Flint residents who sued the state over the city's man-made lead-tainted water crisis, rejecting a motion to dismiss the lawsuit entirely.

In an order made public Thursday, Court of Claims Judge Mark Boonstra said the plaintiffs can proceed on two counts: injury to bodily integrity; and inverse condemnation, which lets people seek compensation for property damage and reduced home values. He tossed two other counts.

Boonstra said the residents' allegations of mismanagement and a cover-up "shock the conscience" and represent a constitutional violation. He rejected a contention that state-appointed emergency managers didn't act as state officials in Flint.

Boonstra said the state alone would be accountable for any damages because Gov. Rick Snyder and the managers were sued in their official capacity.

Melissa Mays is a mother whose children have tested positive for exposure to lead. She’s also one of the most outspoken members of the Flint community fighting the water crisis and is leading the lawsuit.

 “I’m thrilled that the court has acknowledged that the state has damaged Flint resident and their properties. I think it is an incredible first step to getting Flint residents the financial help that they so desperately need and deserve. I’m hopeful for more positive decisions handed down from the state and federal courts,” Mays said.

She called the ruling a small victory.

"The judge said that if the allegations prove true against Gov. Snyder, it'd be a chock to the conscience. So basically saying, 'OK. If this is true and this did happen and were done to the residents, things need to change,'" Mays said.

The court ruled the water crisis could have caused a substantial loss in home values and the state may have failed to protect the residents' health.

"I don't think I could sell my house in the city of Flint right now because of the issue with the water problem," said Maceo Hunter, Flint resident.

Mays said the ruling gives merit to the lawsuit she and other residents filed last year.

"Wrongs have been done to us and the court needs to hear it. And that what we've been suffering through actually does matter and they're going to try to make it right," Mays said.

The lawsuit calls for compensation for residents who have been impacted. Something Flint residents said is long overdue.

"People have lost a lot and they should be able to get something out of this deal besides paying all their money out all the time," Hunter said.

Read the full court documents here: 

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