Flint Water Crisis Co-Liaison Counsel Seeks Final Approval of ‘Landmark Settlement’

Last week, plaintiffs in the mass tort Flint water crisis lawsuit asked the court to finalize the $600 million partial proposed settlement. According to the motion, more than 50,000 claimants have “determined that they want this settlement approved.” The May 27 filing explained that the settlement’s details and addressed objections related to individual non-class claimants’ concerns over the bone lead testing program.

The supporting memorandum stated that the settlement establishes a “hybrid structure,” combining the class action settlement with individual, traditional mass tort settlement components. Pursuant to the agreement, Flint adults, property owners, lessees, persons legally responsible for paying water bills, and businesses can make claims for personal injury and property and business damage, the motion noted.

The plaintiffs pointed to the court’s order earlier this year granting preliminary approval for additional support. Therein, Judge Judith E. Levy allegedly called the agreement a “comprehensive settlement,” that addresses the needs of individually represented victims and unrepresented minors, who, if they do not register a claim within the claims period, may pursue it later.

The plaintiffs argued that the settlement agreement’s “walk-away provisions,” or those under which the settling defendants have the rights to rescind, terminate, or cancel the settlement, have been met. In addition, the filing claimed that “the massive outpouring of support as shown by the registration numbers in (and) of themselves support the conclusion that this settlement was widely accepted by the Flint community.”

Though the motion did not address objections to the $203 million sought in attorneys’ fees, it batted down objections by individual claimants as “without merit,” specifically objections regarding the bone lead testing program. Testing results, among other factors like age, exposure to tainted water, and specific identified injuries are among those given weight in fund allocation, the motion explained.

Objections to the program, including its methodology, efficacy, and safety, are not backed by facts or evidence in the form of scientific research or expert declarations, the filing alleged. Instead, the testing program is expert-vetted and medically sound, according to the plaintiffs filing the motion. The motion cited the opinions of several medical professionals vouching for the testing as safe and accurate.

Co-liaison counsel is Napoli Shkolnik and Levy Konigsberg LLP.