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$600M Settlement reached in Flint water crisis litigation

Aug 24, 2020 - Newsroom by

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel announced some details of the settlement Thursday, Aug. 20, and asked residents for patience as the deal works its way through the legal system.

“Several things need to happen before this agreement can be finalized and because of those steps, many of the details must remain confidential for the time being,” Nessel said in a video statement released by her office Thursday morning.

A summary of the settlement agreement released by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s office says the state will pay $600 million into a qualified settlement fund for the benefit of those individuals, property owners, and businesses who claimed they were injured by the water distributed by the City of Flint while the city used the Flint River as its drinking water source.

Roughly 80 percent of the fund will be dedicated to Flint children under the age of 17, with those 6 years old or younger at the time of their first exposure receiving over half of that amount.

Attorneys involved in the case are under court order not to discuss the full agreement, but said safeguards are being or have been built into the document that are aimed at protecting the settlements awarded to children and to ensure direct payments are not used by their parents or guardians.

Among other things, the settlement establishes a filing process for those who wish to submit claims, provided they owned or lived in a home that received water from the city’s treatment plant from April 25, 2014, until the date the settlement agreement is signed.

Claims can also be filed by individuals who “ingested or came into contact with water (treated by the city) for at least 21 days during any 30-day period from April 25, 2014 until Dec. 31, 2016.

The same state summary of the settlement says:

  • All owners and renters of residential property in Flint who received city water between April 25, 2014 and July 31, 2016 will be eligible to recover property-related compensation.
  • All individuals who were minors in Flint at the time they were first exposed to Flint water from April 25, 2014 to the date the settlement agreement is signed will be eligible to recover compensation without proof of personal injury, with larger amounts of compensation to those who can show personal injuries, blood or bone lead levels, or who lived in homes with lead service lines.
  • Adults in Flint exposed to Flint water during the same period will be eligible to recover compensation with proof of personal injury. Approximately 15 percent of the settlement fund is earmarked for adults with another 3 percent set aside for property damage claims.
  • The fund will also provide local school districts and public school academies within the Genesee Intermediate School District with financing to provide special education services for students who lived in Flint during the same exposure period and who require such services.
  • Special procedures will apply for individuals who are minors or are legally incapacitated.
  • Because the amount to be paid for each claim will in part depend on how many filed claims are verified, the precise amount to be paid to each person will not be known until the claims process is completed — something that’s not expected to happen until 2021.
  • The settlement is structured so that defendants in the Flint water cases, other than the state of Michigan, its agencies, and current and former employees, may join by committing to contribute an amount approved by the residents and the state. Those amounts will increase the fund available for distribution to residents.