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Judge approves partial settlement in Flint water crisis

Flint Water Plant
Flint Water Plant(Jeremy Moorhead/CNN)
Updated: Nov. 10, 2021 at 1:51 PM EST
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FLINT, Mich. (WNEM) - A United States Eastern District Court judge approved a partial settlement of compensation for people impacted by the Flint water crisis.

The $626.25 million settlement involves both class action and non-class action lawsuits and is one of the largest settlements in the history of Michigan.

The state defendants are obligated to pay $600 million, the Flint defendants are obligated to pay $20 million, the McLaren defendants are obligated to pay $5 million, and Rowe is obligated to pay $1.25 million.

The amended settlement agreement states defendants are to deposit their agreed-upon settlement amounts into the established settlement fund. Archer Systems, LLC. has been appointed as the claims administrator.

Tens of thousands of Flint residents will receive compensation for being exposed to lead, legionella, and other contaminants from the water supply during the water crisis.

The settlement fund will be divided into six parts:

  • 64.5 percent will go to Flint children 6 years old and younger
  • 10 percent will go to children ages 7 to 11
  • 5 percent will go to children ages 12 to 17
  • 15 percent will go to adults 18 and older
  • 3 percent will be for property owners and renters
  • Half a percent is for businesses that experienced property and economic losses

The plaintiffs’ motion for attorney fees will be addressed in a separate order.

All objections were denied by the court.

Attorney General Dana Nessel released this statement Wednesday after the decision was released:

“For those who have endured the damage done by the Flint water crisis, I know this day brings only partial relief to what remains unimaginable hardship, but I hope this important settlement can be acknowledged as a positive step in the healing process.” Attorney General Dana Nessel said. “The people of Flint deserve accountability and to be compensated for any injuries they suffered. I am proud of my civil team’s tireless work to reach this historic settlement. Their commitment to this process cannot be understated.”

“The court’s final approval of the settlement is an important step forward in the process of helping Flint heal and making amends to the families and individuals who have faced so much uncertainty. What happened in Flint should never have happened, and no amount of money can completely compensate people for what they have endured,” Governor Gretchen Whitmer said. “We hope this settlement helps the healing continue as we keep working to make sure that people have access to clean water in Flint and communities all across Michigan. While this chapter may have concluded, we hear and respect those voices who remind us that healing Flint will take a long time. Our long-term commitment to the people of Flint is undiminished, and we will keep working to help build the bright future that the people of Flint deserve.”

Cory Stern, a partner at Levy Konigsberg and one of the creators of the settlement released this statement following the judge’s ruling:

“This settlement would not have been possible without the children and families of Flint relentlessly taking a stand against those who failed to keep them safe. Flint families are finally going to get some justice and it will always be the honor of my career to have represented so many brave kids who did not deserve the tragedy put on them.

“Although this is a significant victory for Flint, we have a ways to go in stopping Americans from being systematically poisoned in their own homes, schools, and places of work. The big banks that financed Flint’s water supply switch in 2014, and the water engineering companies that failed to ensure the switch was safe, still have not been held accountable for their roles in the crisis.”

Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich (D-Flint) issued this statement after the settlement was approved in court:

“No amount of money can change what happened to my city, but this settlement is a measure of justice; justice that we are owed. It is also is an important declaration that the State will be held accountable when its actions – or inactions – cause irreparable harm to the people who live here. That said, our quest for justice does not end here, not by a long shot. There is still much work to do to make sure that anyone who played a role in poisoning the children of Flint answers to the law.”

Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley released this statement regarding the lawsuit:

“Today’s decision by Judge Levy creates a path to resolve years of suffering for the residents of Flint. While no amount of money will heal the wounds inflicted on this community, this judgment provides some sense of comfort to Flint families. There is still much work to do that includes a thorough review of the judgment.”