August 20, 2020, Flint, Michigan—Today, media outlets confirmed a $600,000,000 settlement by the State of Michigan to resolve Plaintiffs’ claims against state officials. The settlement resolves all claims against a number of officials who were in state government before and during the Flint Water Crisis, including former Governor of Michigan Richard Snyder. Corey Stern, a partner with Levy Konigsberg, spearheaded the settlement negotiations in his role as Lead Counsel in state litigation and Co-Liaison Counsel in federal litigation. Levy Konigsberg represents more than 2,600 children who were lead-poisoned in the Flint Water Crisis.
The settlement creates a “qualified settlement fund” and is the product of more than 18 months of intense negotiations by attorneys for the Plaintiffs and the State of Michigan. The process was overseen and facilitated by a federal district court judge, a state circuit court judge, a court-appointed special master, and two court-appointed mediators, one of which was retired United States Senator Carl Levin. The settlement must now be approved by the court. Once the settlement is approved, the qualified settlement fund will involve a claims process, and Levy Konigsberg will be working with our clients to submit qualified claims to the claims administrator.
Today’s settlement is the culmination of a long, hard fight to obtain justice for the people of Flint. When a number of government officials switched the City of Flint’s water in April 2014, the people of Flint immediately knew something was wrong. The water was discolored, and it smelled and tasted foul. By 2015, it was apparent that the water switch had caused lead to leach into the drinking water, poisoning Flint’s children. By the time litigation began in 2016 and 2017, it seemed as if there was no room for hope. The Flint Water Crisis was the worst environmental justice disaster in American history, and it looked like the deck was stacked against the people of Flint in the courtroom. Yet, today’s settlement represents a fundamental vindication of hope. Levy Konigsberg lawyers fought every day for more than three years to achieve justice for thousands of Flint’s children.
A lifelong advocate for children, Corey never let the other parties in the settlement talks forget the life-changing harms Governor Snyder and other state officials committed upon Flint’s children. Some would have put the money elsewhere, but Corey forcefully worked day and night to ensure the vast majority of settlement money goes to children. The result: nearly 80% of the settlement money will be distributed to minors with the largest share—64.5% of the total—going to children who were under the age of 6 when they were exposed to Flint’s poisoned water. (The age of six is significant: children who are lead-poisoned at that age tend to suffer worse symptoms.)
Corey called the settlement “a watershed moment for the children of Flint” and praised those who worked together to help make it happen:
“During a time when politics have created divisiveness in our communities, this settlement was ably accomplished with a legislature and Governor from different political parties who ultimately chose the welfare of children over politics.
While our country and Flint residents have been suffering for years, today is a watershed moment for the children of Flint, and a model of decision making that should serve as an example for our communities and leaders across the country.”
While we at Levy Konigsberg praise the settlement, we also emphasize that much work remains to be done. Today’s settlement is not the end to the entire litigation, but only claims against the State of Michigan officials. Litigation will continue against officials who worked for the City of Flint before and during the Flint Water Crisis, as well as three engineering companies (Veolia North America; Lockwood Andrews & Newnam; and Rowe Engineering), McClaren Hospital, and the Environmental Protection Agency. A full trial against some or all of those defendants is expected in early 2021.
Levy Konigsberg has been fighting injustice across the country for decades. Our attorneys fight every day for transparency and accountability no matter how long the odds. In addition to the children of Flint who have suffered lead-poisoning, our attorneys stand up for consumers and workers who have been exposed to dangerous asbestos-containing products, survivors of child sexual abuse, public housing tenants discriminated against in violation of federal law, and victims of dangerous pharmaceuticals like Elmiron, to name a few. We can help get the compensation you, your children, and your loved ones deserve. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us by calling us at 1-800-988-8005, emailing us, submitting a web form, or taking advantage of the live chat function.