Coalition Files Lawsuit Against Flint and Michigan Officials

By Kenrya Rankin Jan 28, 2016

As the nation continues to debate about who knew just how bad the water in Flint was and why they didn’t fix the problem, a group has decided to seek redress in the courts. On Wednesday, (January 27) Flint resident Melissa Mays joined with the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, Concerned Pastors for Social Action and the Natural Resources Defense Council to bring a federal lawsuit against Flint and Michigan officials.

There are eight defendants named in the suit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan Southern Division: The city of Flint, Nick Khouri (Michigan secretary of treasury), Natasha Henderson (Flint’s city administrator), Frederick Headen (chair of the Flint Receivership Transition Advisory Board) and Micahel Townsend, David McGhee, Michael Finney and Beverly Walker-Griffea (who are all members of that board).

The suit charges that the defendants violated the Safe Drinking Water Act, which requires those who operate or own public water systems to comply with a specific set of health standards. Per the suit:

Public trust has been eroded by government officials’ efforts to evade responsibility in this crisis. The damage done to city pipes from the Flint River water means that lead will continue to contaminate Flint’s drinking water. This contamination poses an ongoing health risk to the city’s residents, especially young children, who are most vulnerable to the effects of lead. 

The harms suffered by Flint residents will not be addressed until city and state officials properly treat Flint’s water to control lead, properly test the water for lead contamination, promptly notify residents of testing results, and report their activities to state regulators, all as required by the Safe Drinking Water Act.

In addition to requesting that officials be made to comply with the Safe Drinking Water Act, the suit requests that all lead-containing pipes be replaced without cost to residents and that relief be granted to “mitigate health and medical risks and harm resulting from defendants’ violations.”