Flint residents get $626 million for being poisoned by the government
The city in Michigan switched its water supply back in 2014 without first treating it for corrosion.
On Wednesday, Nov. 10, U.S. District Court Judge Judith E. Levy signed off on a $626 million settlement for people who were exposed to lead-contaminated water in Flint, Michigan.
In 2014 and 2015, children in Flint, many of them Black and from low-income families, experienced a drastic rise in lead poisoning after the city switched its water source to the Flint River without first treating it to reduce corrosion.
The contaminated water was blamed for an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease that killed at least 12 people. Additionally, fetal death rates jumped 58% while birth outcomes worsened, with Black babies being disproportionately affected.
In the aftermath, state leaders were accused of ignoring the risks and dismissing claims of illness.
The settlement will create a court-monitored victims compensation fund that will provide direct payments to Flint residents, with almost 80% going to those who were minors at the time of the crisis. Minors who were six years old or younger will receive the largest share.
“This distribution recognizes that those who were exposed to contaminated Flint water at a young age will experience more harm than older people,” Levy wrote.
Residents exposed to lead-contaminated water in Flint, MI, will be compensated with a total $626 million, after a federal judge approved a settlement.
Nearly 100K people were exposed to the neurotoxin lead after the city changed its water supply system in 2014 to cut costs. pic.twitter.com/dCDmPGj37l
— AJ+ (@ajplus) November 10, 2021
Impacted adults will be distributed 15% of the funds, property owners and renters will receive 3%, business owners and operators will receive 0.5%, and 2% of the money will be saved for “programmatic relief,” which will offer special education services for eligible individuals, according to court documents.
"The settlement reached here is a remarkable achievement for many reasons, not the least of which is that it sets forth a comprehensive compensation program and timeline that is consistent for every qualifying participant," Levy wrote in the 178-page order.
Michigan's attorney general has previously said that the settlement would rank as the largest in the state's history.
For those who have endured the damage done by the Flint water crisis I know this brings only partial relief to what remains unimaginable hardship, but I hope this important settlement can be acknowledged as a positive step in the healing process. https://t.co/hz4D2wydR6
— Dana Nessel (@dananessel) November 11, 2021
"Although this is a significant victory for Flint, we have a ways to go in stopping Americans from being systematically poisoned in their own homes, schools, and places of work", Corey Stern, a counsel for the plaintiffs, said in a statement after the judge's order on Wednesday.