Court Denies Motion to Extend Opt-Out Deadline in Flint Water Crisis Case

Last week, after several plaintiffs — victims of lead-tainted water in Flint, Michigan — moved to extend the deadline to opt-out, register, and object to a proposed $600 million settlement, Judge Judith E. Levy of the Eastern District of Michigan held an expedited hearing and subsequently denied the motion. Other parties, including plaintiffs represented by co-liaison counsel, opposed the motion.

The moving plaintiffs asked Levy to extend the deadline by 60 days because of a recent “registration fever.” The filing argued, among other things, that the lawyers of these newly registered claimants have little time to advise their clients whether to object to the settlement before the Monday deadline. 

The filing also noted that bone scan testing, “major qualifying proof for higher monetary awards,” is nearly impossible to obtain locally. The filing explained that a recent disagreement between counsel means, according to the movants, that “there will be no bone scan testing for people not in the good graces of Co-Liaison Counsel—particularly Napoli Shkolnik, the firm operating the only site where this proof of damages is being offered.”

Co-liaison counsel assailed the moving plaintiffs’ motion, arguing that “incompetence is their good cause.” That filing argued that pushing back the deadline would delay diligent claimants’ much-deserved compensation. The opposition brief concluded that “(t)he residents of Flint have waited long enough and should not have to wait a day longer because Moving Plaintiffs are unable to meet a deadline that over 30,000 individuals have already met.”

By a minute entry Friday, Judge Levy denied the motion. On Sunday, 10 additional plaintiffs objected to the settlement, citing concerns with the bone scan testing requirements. The moving plaintiffs are represented by Marc J. Bern & Partners LLP and Cuker Law Firm. Napoli Shkolnik PLLC and Levy Konigsberg LLP are co-liaison counsel.