by Scott McClallen
U.S. District Judge Judith Levy gave final approval to the $626.25 million settlement for victims of the Flint lead-contamination water crisis.
“The court is persuaded that the over $600 million settlement is a fair and sensible resolution of the claims against the settling defendants,” Levy wrote in a 178-page opinion. “The complexity and volume of this litigation present significant risks and potentially great expense to all parties if the cases were to be tried.”
The ruling means that Flint residents can now begin to receive the settlement payout. About 80% of that will fund those who were minors when exposed to lead, with a majority of that amount to be paid for the claims of children aged six and younger. Another 15% will be spent on claims of adults and property damage, 3% on property owners and renters, 2% for special education services and less than 1% will go toward claims for business losses.
“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 in a statement. “The people of Flint deserve accountability and to be compensated for any injuries they suffered.”
About $35 million will be set aside in a trust fund for future minor plaintiffs.
“What happened in Flint should never have happened, and no amount of money can completely compensate people for what they have endured,” Gov. 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.”
The state will pay $600 million, Flint $20 million, McLaren Health Care $5 million and consulting firm Rowe Professional Services Co. $1.25 million.
Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich, D–Flint, welcomed the settlement.
“No amount of money can change what happened to my city, but this settlement is a measure of justice; justice that we are owed,” Ananich said in a statement. “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.”
– – –
Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on Forbes.com and FEE.org. Previously, he worked as a financial analyst at Pepsi.
Photo “Flint Water Plant” by RStreet.org