Frequently Asked Questions
Through our correspondence with you, we have noticed that many of you are seeking answers to similar questions. For your convenience, we have outlined responses to some frequently asked questions below. Much of this information is covered in greater detail in the preceding sections, and we encourage you to read the supplemental links for more information. If you find that your question was not answered in this update, please reach out to us at 248-658-0020 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. What does litigation mean?
Litigation is what happens after a lawsuit is filed. We have filed lawsuits for the class of people who were harmed by the Flint Water Crisis, in both state and federal courts, against the state, federal, and city governments, private engineering companies, and individuals, including former Governor Rick Snyder. What happens before a lawsuit goes to trial or settles is “litigation.” Litigation includes getting the documents and testimony to prove your case and legal disputes about what legal theories, claims, and defenses will proceed to trial.
2. What is the current status of the litigation?
Since your legal team filed its original complaints in November of 2015, all litigation efforts have been consolidated into the following lawsuits:
The consolidated federal case, Waid, in front of Judge Judith Levy, against the city and state defendants, including emergency managers, the MDEQ defendants, and the private engineering defendants
The federal case, Burgess v. United States of America, in front of Judge Linda Parker against the EPA
The state case filed in the Michigan Court of Claims, Mays v. Snyder, in front of Judge Mark Boonstra, against the city and state defendants, including emergency managers, the MDEQ defendants, and the private engineering defendants
The state case filed in Genesee County Circuit Court, Mays v. Snyder, in front of Judge Richard Yuille, against the city and state defendants, including emergency managers, the MDEQ defendants, and the private engineering defendants
Currently, lawyers on both sides of each case are collecting documents from each other and from other organizations like the Genesee County Health Department and various water testing companies. Your lawyers have collected more than a million documents and are in the process of reviewing them. You can read more about the rulings and find links to written decisions in the above sections.
Running parallel to this process, your legal team is in settlement talks with the defendants, which began in late 2018. Judge Levy has appointed mediators Judge Pamela Harwood, retired Wayne County Circuit Court Judge, and retired United States Senator Carl Levin to assist with the mediation process; she has also appointed lawyer Deborah Greenspan as Special Master to oversee much of the settlement process. Judge Levy appointed these mediators and the Special Master to work with all the lawyers involved in the Flint Water Crisis litigation for the purpose of arriving at a settlement agreement that is just, reasonable, and will recompense everyone who has been injured by the Crisis.
The Mediators and the Special Master have been working very hard with the lawyers representing you and the Flint Community, as well as the lawyers representing the state, city, and the private engineering companies. There have been many meetings and the discussions are ongoing. You can read more about the settlement and the recent rulings in each case, in addition to links to the written decisions, in the above sections.
3. Will there be a settlement? When?
Most cases for compensation eventually settle out of court, so yes, a settlement is possible in the Flint Water cases. Class representatives will review any proposed settlement with the lawyers to make recommendations before it is finalized. We cannot tell you when this case is likely to settle, the amount of the overall settlement, or the amount you are likely to receive as part of the settlement. We do not have a set timeline for this but assure you that we are moving as quickly as we can to get you relief, while still ensuring that we give each piece of this complex case the thorough consideration it deserves. If there is a proposed class settlement, you will have the right to weigh in before any settlement is approved by Judge Levy. The court will notify you of the class settlement and you will be given an opportunity to review it before its final approval. The notification will advise you of all your rights, including your right to exclude yourself from the settlement.
Remember, before excluding yourself from a settlement, you should have a clear understanding of what the alternatives are and whether you will be better off in participating in the class settlement or proceeding with an individual lawsuit. Only a qualified lawyer can tell you if you will be able to pursue a successful individual lawsuit and if and when you should expect to receive a settlement from the individual lawsuit. Not every individual lawsuit will be won because there will be strict legal and proof requirements which must be met in order to have a successful case.
4. Is anyone going to jail?
The cases that your legal team is litigating are civil cases, meaning that they are cases brought by individuals, not by the government. Civil litigation pursues damages, or financial compensation, sometimes in addition to other things. It is not possible to incarcerate individuals through civil litigation. Only the government has the ability to prosecute individuals for criminal activity and secure their incarceration. We are using all of the avenues available to us in civil litigation to the fullest extent possible to pursue justice on your behalf. Your legal team does believe that criminal conduct caused the Water Crisis and believes that it is the government’s obligation to address the criminal conduct of the officials responsible for the harm undeniably done to you. You may have heard that all pending criminal charges have been dropped, and that the Attorney General’s office is looking into filing new charges. Your legal team believes that the individuals who created the Crisis should be held criminally responsible and will continue to fight vigorously for justice through the civil avenues available to us. You can read more about our opinion of the current status of the criminal cases in section VI (above).
5. Do I need to fill out any paperwork? Do I need to send in medical records?
We do not currently need any paperwork from you, and we are not currently requesting medical records. If and when we require action from you in the future, we will contact you. The only action we need from you at this time is to notify us of any changes in your contact information, including changes of address, phone number, or preferred email address. If your information has not changed, no action is currently required from you. If your information has changed, however, we request that you contact us promptly and keep us updated on an ongoing basis. You can update your contact information by calling 248-658-0020 or emailing us at email@example.com. When you do so, please make sure to leave us a detailed message with your first and last name, and the phone number where you can be reached.
6. Is a deceased family member still eligible for a settlement? Who collects it on their behalf?
If a family member who was impacted by the Water Crisis is now deceased, the estate of your deceased family member is still eligible for a settlement. However, an estate must be opened with a probate court and a personal representative appointed by the court. If you have questions about this, please call Channing Robinson-Holmes at 248-398-9800.
7. I am still sick and struggling – what resources are available to me?
Your legal team recommends contacting the Flint Registry. According to their website, the Flint Registry “is a project that will connect people to services and programs to promote health and wellness and help understand how the Flint water crisis has affected the Flint community. The Flint Registry is for anyone who was exposed to lead-contaminated water in the City of Flint because they lived, worked, attended school or daycare between April 25, 2014, and October 15, 2015, at any address serviced by the Flint water system. Built by the Flint community and based in Flint, the Registry is for people who were impacted by the Flint water crisis and want to be part of something bigger.” Though your legal team is not affiliated with the Flint Registry, we recognize them as a fantastic community resource that is equipped to assist you in finding resources to address any ongoing issues you are having as a result of the Water Crisis. Their website is www.flintregistry.org.
8. My child’s intellectual or cognitive capacity and/or behavior seems to have been impacted by the Water Crisis – what resources are available to me?
We are working closely with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Michigan to make sure any child living in Flint during the Flint Water Crisis has the opportunity to be tested by a qualified neuropsychologist to determine if there are any changes in brain function that could be related to exposure to lead in Flint’s drinking water. We would like to inform you of an opportunity to have your child(ren) assessed at the new Neurodevelopmental Center of Excellence (NCE).
The NCE was established in October of 2018 due to settlement of a claim in the education lawsuit D.R. v. MDE et al., brought by the ACLU of Michigan. You can read more about it here.
Although the Neurodevelopmental Assessment will not provide us with a direct link to the lead poisoning and how it has harmed your child, it will inform us all of what areas of need your child has. Because it is hard to detect what children are having to endure either due to lead in the water, the trauma surrounding the crisis, or some other unidentified need, we are encouraging all of parents of school age children to access this free opportunity by clicking on www.genhs.org/nce and completing the referral form that can be directly submitted to the NCE. You can also begin this process by signing up for the Flint Registry at www.flintregistry.org. Please enroll your child today.