City of Flint Not Immune From Water Crisis Lawsuit in Federal Court

The US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has ruled that the City of Flint is not immune from the federal lawsuit pending against it following the infamous decision by public officials to save costs by switching the city’s water supply to corrosive Flint River water that would be processed by an outdated water plant, sickening local residents as a result. Though the Court’s decision dismissed three former state officials, it ruled that city officials were not immune, as the city’s emergency management status had not made the city’s water functions an “arm of the state.”

Following the 2014 water supply switch, scores of local residents, particularly children, experienced severe health problems. There were reports of at least 12 deaths due to Legionnaire’s disease, as well as serious medical issues arising from lead exposure and E. coli, among other things. Judge Richard Griffin, who wrote the Sixth Circuit’s majority opinion, called the crisis “predictable” and “preventable.” 

Additional Reading

No immunity for city in federal Federal Flint water crisis lawsuit, appeals panel rules, The Detroit News, January 7, 2019

Opinion, filed January 4, 2019 in Shari Guertin v. State of Michigan, et al.

Photo credit: / Linda Parton