Judge declares mistrial in Flint bellwether case
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (WNEM) - A federal judge has declared a mistrial for the Flint water bellwether case.
Judge David Grand declared the mistrial in the U.S. Eastern District Court of Michigan in Ann Arbor on Thursday, Aug. 11.
The jury called for a mistrial after stating the emotional and physical distress prevented them from reaching a verdict.
The trial involves four children who are suing two engineering companies for alleged negligence involved in the Flint water crisis. The children are claiming injuries they say were caused from their exposure to lead in Flint’s drinking water in 2014 and 2015.
The companies are denying they were negligent, and say they are not responsible for the plaintiffs’ alleged injuries.
The companies are Veolia North America LLC, Veolia North America Inc. and Veolia Water North America Operating Services LLC, which are referred to as VNA, and Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam, P.C., Lockwood Andrews & Newnam Inc. and Leo A. Daly Company, which are referred to as LAN. VNA and LAN are not part of the $626.5 million partial settlement in the Flint water case.
The jury handed this wording of the note to Grand.
“For the physical and the emotional health of the jurors, we don’t believe we can continue with further deliberations. Further deliberations will only result in stress and anxiety with no unanimous decision without someone having to surrender their honest convictions solely for the purpose of returning a verdict”.
Based on the note, the attorney for the engineering companies implored the judge to declare a mistrial.
An attorney representing the four children asked the judge to conduct an individual inquiry of each juror to find out what the mental and physical health problems are. The attorney also asked the judge to allow jurors to reach a verdict if seven out of eight can agree on a decision.
The judge denied both requests.
Grand said individual interviews would coerce jurors and a seven out of eight verdict would not be appropriate.
He told the court this jury may be the most dedicated group of jurors to ever serve in the Eastern District of Michigan.
On Aug. 12, Mayor Sheldon Neeley issued the following statement:
“As we learned yesterday, the jury delivered a mistrial in the case of four children who were residents of Flint in 2014-2015. They sought to hold former City of Flint consultants Veolia North America and Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam responsible for medical problems the children suffered because of lead poisoning. I feel the deep disappointment and frustration that we’re experiencing across the Flint community today. I stand with our community in demanding justice for the generational trauma inflicted on our city during the water crisis. I support the plaintiffs, Emir Sherrod, Aundreya Teed, Riley Vanderhagen, and Daylaana Ware, along with every kid from Flint who has suffered because of the water crisis. This fight is not over, as I continue to stand with the families of Flint. The mistrial means that the case can be refiled, and a new jury can be selected. We will persevere, and I am hopeful that we will see justice.”
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