Michigan Agrees to Pay $600 Million to Victims of Flint Water Poisoning

By Shani Saxon Aug 20, 2020

A person close to the negotiations has confirmed to The Washington Post that the state of Michigan has reached a settlement agreement to pay $600 million to the tens of thousands of victims of the Flint water crisis.

As Colorlines previously reported:

…the Flint water crisis began in April 2014. An emergency manager that [Rick Snyder, former Republican governor of Michigan] appointed to run the majority Black city opted to switch the water source from the Great Lakes Water Authority to the Flint River to save money.

The result was a doubling of the percentage of Flint children with elevated levels of lead in their blood, a decrease in fertility and an increase in infant deaths as a result of the lead. Twelve people died from Legionnaires’ disease linked to the toxic water, while approximately another 90 residents contracted it and lived—making it the third largest outbreak of Legionnaires’ in U.S. history.

According to The Post, the settlement will officially be announced on Friday (August 21) and will award the most money to the youngest victims, who were at the highest risk for lead poisoning and neurological problems. 

The settlement, which was reviewed by The Post, dictates that “80 percent of the monetary award will go to residents who were younger than 18 at the time of their exposure. More than half of that amount will go toward children who were younger than 6.” Officials estimate that between 18,000 and 20,000 children under 18 lived in Flint when the water was poisoned. 

The leftover 20 percent of the settlement money will go to “plaintiffs whose lawsuits pertained to other issues, such as property damage and loss of revenue.”

Reports The Post:

Plaintiffs’ lawyers reached an agreement with the state’s lawyers on behalf of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) last week. Whitmer is expected to announce the full details.

The resolution follows 18 months of negotiations involving attorneys acting on behalf of Flint residents and businesses, and court-appointed mediators overseen by U.S. District Judge Judith E. Levy. Talks escalated greatly in recent months amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The settlement encompasses multiple lawsuits and cases filed against the state. It also will cover claims by residents who contracted Legionnaires’ disease because of their exposure.

Pending claims against individuals, including Snyder, other public officials and private companies will continue to move forward, according to The Post. 

Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley has so far declined to comment to The Post on the details of the settlement agreement.