Flint, Michigan residents sue city, state over tap water

Reuters News
Posted: Nov 16, 2015 2:41 PM

By Jonathan Stempel

(Reuters) - Residents of Flint, Michigan have filed a lawsuit accusing the city and state of endangering their health by exposing them to dangerous lead levels in their tap water, after switching their supply last year in a drive to save money.

The federal lawsuit filed on Friday challenged Flint's April 2014 switch to water from the Flint River instead of Detroit's water system, after Gov. Rick Snyder had placed the city of about 99,000 people under emergency financial management.

Residents complained of various health problems from using the local water, including respiratory disorders and skin lesions, despite officials' assurances that the water was safe.

Snyder decided last month to switch Flint residents back to Detroit's water system. But the lawsuit said the damage has already been done, and that it will take time to fix pipes and service lines corroded by Flint River water.

The lawsuit seeks class-action status on behalf of Flint residents, compensatory and punitive damages, creation of a medical monitoring fund, and appointment of a monitor to oversee Flint's water supply.

On Monday, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan and the nonprofit Natural Resources Defense Council said they also intend to sue if problems are not fixed.

Among the defendants in the residents' lawsuit are Snyder and former Flint Mayor Dayne Walling, who this month lost his reelection bid to Karen Weaver.

She is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit, but was listed as a possible defendant in the ACLU case.

Snyder's and Weaver's offices did not immediately respond on Monday to requests for comment.

Flint is located about 68 miles (109 km) northwest of Detroit.

The federal case is Mays et al v. Snyder et al, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan, No. 15-14002.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Richard Chang)