Michigan Reaches $600M Deal In Flint Water Crisis, Cash Will Compensate Residents

Michigan Reaches $600M Deal In Flint Water Crisis, Cash Will Compensate Residents

Michigan reaches a $600 million deal in Flint Water Crisis. The cash will compensate residents. It’s one of the largest settlements in state history. Photo: In this Feb. 3, 2015, photo, Lemott Thomas carries free water being distributed at the Lincoln Park United Methodist Church in Flint, Mich. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

The Flint water crisis started in 2014 when the city’s drinking water was deemed undrinkable. By 2019, the water still had not passed federal drinking standards. Now, some six years since the public health crisis began, the state of Michigan has reached a $600-million deal with Flint residents. There will be cash payments made to the locals.

The amount awarded per applicant will be based on how badly they were harmed, AP reported.

The settlement devotes 80 percent of the money to people who were under age 18 during the period when Flint was using river water, 15 percent of the funds will go to adults who experienced harm, and 3 percent will compensate for property damage, MarketWatch reported. The remaining money will be used for business losses and relief programs.

The settlement covers a period from April 25, 2014 to July 31, 2016. Adults filing claims must show proof of personal injury.

The settlement, one of the largest in the state’s history, will put to rest a number of lawsuits arising out of the Flint water crisis, The Detroit News reported.

The water crisis highlighted systemic racism in Michigan, according to a government-appointed civil rights commission report released in February 2019.

The Flint polulation is 57 percent Black, according to the U.S. Census.

At least one class-action lawsuit alleges race discrimination in Flint, CNN reported. “Our lawsuit alleges race discrimination in how and why the predominantly African-American population was exposed to contaminated river water while the surrounding predominantly white population continued to receive clean Detroit water,” attorney Michael L. Pitt told CNN by email.

There are no details on whether or not this lawsuit will be dismissed under the settlement. 

“What happened in Flint should have never happened, and financial compensation with this settlement is just one of the many ways we can continue to show our support for the city of Flint and its families,” Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said, adding that she was “deeply sorry for the uncertainty and troubles” the crisis had caused, MarketWatch reported.

The crisis began after Flint’s drinking water source was changed from water sourced from Lake Huron and the Detroit River to water from the Flint River, AP reported. However, city officials failed to apply corrosion inhibitors to the water. This caused lead from aging pipes to seep into the water supply.

The deal was reached after several years of litigation in which residents sought damages for the lead-contaminated water piped into area households.

“We’re just staying positive and moving our community forward in a positive direction,” said Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley, who was not part of the settlement discussions. Neeley was a city councilman during the water source switch.

There have been 79 Flint-related lawsuits in state and federal court, through June 2019. Over the years, some suits have been consolidated, The Detroit News reported.

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Two months ago a divided Michigan Supreme Court ruled a class-action lawsuit against the state could proceed on the argument that Flint residents should be able to recover the value of their property.

There are other suits pending against Flint, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and private consultants that advised the city on water issues.