Seven families in Flint, Michigan have filed a class action lawsuit against
the city and state officials after scientific and medical studies found
dangerously high levels of lead in the blood of residents, especially
that of young children. All evidence of lead poisoning seems to point
at the ongoing Flint Water Crisis, an environmental health disaster that
involved the city switching water supplies from the same source Detroit
uses to the nearby Flint River. The lawsuit alleges that government entities
switched water sources as a fast bid to save money and, when it was revealed
to be unsafe for drinking or hygiene, reacted slowly and deliberately.
One resident involved in the class action, Ms. Melissa Lightfoot, says
that she had all three of her children tested for lead poisoning before
Flint’s water source switch in 2014. None were in any danger of
exposure or side-effects. Tests conducted at the end of the year told
a different tale, however, with all three children testing for unsafe
levels of lead in their blood. If the medical records can be verified,
they may prove to be the key piece of evidence in the class action.
Damages pursued in the class action include costs necessary for medical
care to treat lead poisoning. As the lead poisoning is a slowly-acting
disease, permanent brain damage could have already been done but not shown
in clear signs yet. Ms. Lightfoot attests that her children were recently
diagnosed with ADD (attention-deficit disorder) and have uncharacteristic
tantrums; the mental and emotional changes, in conjunction with reports
of hair loss, could be indicative of the early signs of lifelong harm.
The lawsuit will need to consider how much it will cost to treat all symptoms
of lead poisoning, now and later.
Is Flint Protected by Governmental Immunity?
In some cases of negligence from city and state officials, governmental
immunity can shield them from liability. Prosecutors are faced with the
task of proving that negligence was so widespread and inexcusable that
immunity must be removed. Despite initial reports of the water’s
danger emerging in 2014, only recently has the city switched back to the
original water source. With a reaction time over one year, the evidence
of negligence may be easily identifiable.
(NBC News has a full report
here on their website.)
Be sure to check back with our
personal injury blog for pertinent updates about the ongoing Flint Water Crisis. Our New York
City injury attorneys at Lurie, Ilchert, MacDonnell & Ryan LLP are
always interested in cases that involve the public’s wellbeing,
and we can represent those in New York who have also been harmed in similar ways.
Contact us today for more information about our legal services.