Federal Court Judge in Michigan Dismisses Flint Residents’ Lawsuits

By Yessenia Funes Feb 08, 2017

A federal court judge in Michigan dismissed two lawsuits relating to the water crisis in Flint, Michigan yesterday (February 7).

Residents Luke Waid and Myia McMillian brought forth separate lawsuits against Gov. Rick Snyder and other officials in 2016 for their actions that led to citywide lead poisoning. Yesterday, U.S. District Judge John C. O’Meara said these complaints can’t move forward because residents failed to provide defendants the 60-day notice required under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), reports MLive-Flint Journal. Both cases can be re-filed in state court.

Waid pursued individual litigation beginning February 8, 2016, after tests confirmed that his two-year-old daughter was suffering from lead poisoning, the Detroit Free Press reported. "We don’t know what’s going to come in the future," Waid told the Press last February. "I’m uncertain. I’m no doctor, but it’s really putting the parents in between a rock and a hard spot. … It seems like our city officials do not care." 

McMillian, however, joined six other families to file a class action lawsuit, McMillian et al v. Richard D. Snyder et al, on March 7, 2016. 

This is the third recent instance of Judge O’Meara dismissing cases by Flint residents because of the SDWA. Last week, on February 3, he did the same with another class action lawsuit that represented tens of thousands of city residents. O’Meara wrote then, according to The Detroit News, that allowing these claims would be “inconsistent with Congress’ carefully tailored scheme” to “entrust the regulation of the public drinking water systems to an expert regulatory agency rather than the courts.”

O’Meara has dismissed “approximately 60 cases filed in connection with the Flint water crisis,” according to The Detroit News. Two related cases remain for him in federal court.

The water crisis in the predominantly Black city has resulted in more than 450 lawsuits, as reported in The Detroit News. Some are civil cases against the government. Others are civil cases against private engineering firms partially responsible for overseeing the events that led to the lead-tainted water. There are also state lawsuits and separate criminal cases.

(H/t The Detroit News, MLive-Flint Journal)