Judge John Corbett O’Meara issued an order today, clearly stating that there is no federal jurisdiction for the cases thus far filed by New York-based law firm Levy Konigsberg LLP, and the Flint-based Robinson Carter & Crawford PLLC, for sixty-four families on behalf of 144 children who were lead poisoned as a result of the Flint, Michigan Water Crisis.
The order was entered in Sasha Bell v. Lockwood, Andrews and Newnam, P.C., et al. The federal case number is 16-10825. The case number in the Genesee County Circuit Court is 16-106337. Judge O’Meara has been assigned the great majority of the cases that were removed.
The lawsuits were filed between March 3, 2016 and April 8, 2016, and the lawyers continue to file cases on a weekly basis. Almost immediately after each case has been filed, one of the corporate defendants, Lockwood, Andrews and Newnam, P.C. has been removing the cases to federal court.
Judge O’Meara’s order states:
“It is clear that Defendant [Lockwood, Andrews and Newnam, P.C.] lacked an objectively reasonable basis for removal here, as demonstrated by the dearth of case law cited in support of its position. Indeed, the applicable Supreme Court and Sixth Circuit precedent all points in the same direction: remand … [a]ccordingly, the court will grant Plaintiff’s request for attorney fees incurred in filing her motion for remand.”
The 64 complaints, each 40 pages in length, name six corporate entities that had various responsibilities with respect to the treatment, monitoring, and safety of the Flint water prior to and during the Flint Water Crisis.
The corporations include: Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam, Inc., based in Houston, Texas; Rowe Engineering, Inc., based in Flint, Michigan; and Veolia North America, Inc., a Chicago-based company that is part of the United States operations of Veolia Environment, a publicly-traded company based in France (NASDAQ: VEOEY). The lawsuits also name 3 individual government, or former government, employees who played significant roles in the misconduct that led to the poisoning of thousands of children in Flint.
The firms representing the Plaintiffs are preparing additional individual case-filings on behalf of a large number of other parents of children in Flint who have been lead-poisoned.
Corey Stern, one of the attorneys for the families, said: “These are and have always been personal injury cases that belong in Genesee County. The children that were lead poisoned will have their cases heard by a jury made of Genesee County residents.”
Mr. Stern, who has spent much of the last 10 weeks shuttling back-and-forth between Flint and his New York City office, meeting with Flint parents, community leaders and members of the clergy, also stated: “We remain committed to investigating, and ultimately to filing as many individual cases for children in Flint as there are children in this City who have been lead poisoned.”