Pediatrician Objects to Settlement in Flint Water Lawsuits

Dr. Lawrence A. Reynolds, a retired pediatrician and Flint, Michigan resident who reportedly retired to “assist in a broader community health focus” filed an objection to the proposed settlement agreement in the lawsuit against Flint for allowing lead to enter the city’s water system. 

Each of his objections was introduced with the same premise; Reynolds said, “for more than a year the state of Michigan officials told residents of Flint there was nothing wrong with their drinking water.” 

Reynolds reported that he has held many health-related positions in the local governments, is currently Health Advisor to the City of Flint’s mayor, and has been involved in discussions around the Flint Water Crisis since 2015.  He claimed that the settlement, which was filed with the court on January 15, did not include sufficient health protections for the people of Flint, specifically that the settlement allows bone lead testing, its use of blood lead testing results, and IEP testing requirements. 

Relating to bone lead testing, Reynolds claimed that the use of the XRF hand-held device which has reportedly been used for testing lead amounts in bones “is not appropriate in any setting.” He claimed that he was offered the position of leading the project using the device and declined as exposure to X-rays, specifically for children, should be limited and that the device is not approved for use on any body part but for samples.  Reynolds said, “it is my belief that any ethical medical practitioner should have declined as well,” and that use of the device is “being promoted by misinformed attorneys, for an undisclosed research project, not licensed medical practitioners.” He further claimed that a clinical trial of this method should require more approval and monitoring and said that the XRF should not be used to encourage the lawsuit settlement. “XRF bone scans are not appropriate for use on any claimant in this case for any reason,” Reynolds reiterated. 

The doctor’s second and third objections related to blood lead testing results, specifically samples taken from plaintiffs between 2014 and 2016, or 2014 and 2017 for women who miscarried.  Reynolds explained that the timing of blood level testing is important, specifically, it should be performed “during the time of highest consumption of contaminated water” to receive accurate results, or within 36 days, which is not the case for many of the plaintiffs. Further he argued that blood lead testing should not be prescribed except when there is a clear exposure to lead, and that not every child should be tested, nor should all fetal matter after a miscarriage. He claimed that as it is not general practice to perform blood level tests for lead, the plaintiffs should not be required to have had the test during the time period. 

Finally, Reynolds objected to the requirement that plaintiffs receive an Individual Education Program screening by a neuropsychologist and a Board Certified Pediatrician before it is determined that they have cognitive difficulties. Instead, he reported, school districts should provide the screening and that according to Michigan laws neither a neuropsychologist or a pediatrician is required to be present. The doctor also explained that the assessment would need to be completed periodically rather than at one time as the stipulation suggests. 

Reynolds is a claimant in the lawsuit and is represented by the Washington Legal law firm