State of Michigan to Fund Special Education Programming for Students Suffering Long-term Health and Behavioral Impacts
Susman Godfrey and interim Co-lead Class Counsel for victims of the Flint water crisis have announced a landmark $600 million settlement with multiple governmental defendants, including the state of Michigan, in the Flint Water Crisis litigation. This partial settlement is the result of 5 years of litigation and 18 months of court supervised negotiations. Susman Godfrey and co-counsel will continue to pursue claims against the remaining defendants on behalf of certain residents and local businesses in the City of Flint harmed by the water crisis.
Terms of the settlement establish a court-monitored victims compensation fund that will provide hundreds of millions of dollars in direct payments to Flint residents, nearly 80 percent of which will go to those who were under the age of 18 at the time of the crisis. Flint residents, including minors, adults, property owners, and businesses, will be eligible to make claims from the compensation fund for personal injuries, and property and business damages. The claims process and compensation awards will be based on categories of injury. The settlement also accounts for community needs. For example, a dedicated fund will be created to provide special education programming for students who suffer long term health and behavioral impacts from lead poisoning.
The State of Michigan, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and all individual defendants, including former Governor Rick Snyder, are included as parties to this settlement. Importantly, this Preliminary Agreement is a partial resolution of claims for adequate and fair compensation. The litigation will continue against other defendants, including two private engineering firms charged with professional negligence—Veolia North America (Veolia) and Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam (LAN). Each failed to give appropriate professional advice and greatly added to the widespread lead contamination of the water into proposed class members’ homes and businesses. Separate litigation against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency also continues.
All Flint residents harmed by the water crisis will have an opportunity to submit a claim for relief under the Agreement. Together with co-counsel, Susman Godfrey is participating in a public awareness campaign about the settlement and will continue to advocate for members of the proposed class and settlement sub-classes and the guardians or representatives of any children who wish to be provided legal assistance to guide them through the claims process. Under the settlement, Interim Class Counsel will seek appointment as Class Counsel for the Settlement Class and the proposed sub-classes, and Interim Class Counsel will be authorized by the Agreement to assist in securing for any parent or family member an award for his or her child who is not represented by counsel. Flint residents are encouraged to visit flintwaterjustice.com or call 866-536-0717 for information.
“I’m delighted we had the opportunity to play a key role in achieving this fabulous result for the people of Flint,” said Seattle-based partner, Steve Morrissey, court-appointed Executive Committee member for Interim Class Counsel for the the plaintiffs in the proposed class action cases. “We look forward to making this result significantly better as we continue to pursue justice on the remaining claims against the two engineering firms that advised the City, Veolia North America and Lockwood Andrews & Newman.”
In addition to serving on the Court-Appointed Interim Executive Committee, Morrissey also chaired the Expert Committee for the case. Shawn Raymond served on the Mediation Team and played an instrumental role in negotiating the settlement. Vineet Bhatia, Jordan Connors, and Katherine Peaslee also play instrumental roles in the matter.
The residents and other plaintiffs are also represented by Interim Co-Lead Counsel Ted Leopold Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC and Michael Pitt of Pitt McGehee Palmer & Rivers PC, together with Weitz & Luxenberg; the Law Offices of Teresa A. Bingman; Motley Rice, LLC; Bronstein, Gewirtz & Grossman L.L.C.; McAlpine PC; Trachelle C. Young and Associates; Goodman, Hurwitz & James PC; the Law Offices of Deborah LaBelle; Cynthia M. Lindsey & Associates PLLC; McKeen & Associates; and Dedendum Group, LLC.