Frequently Asked Questions
Flint Water Settlement: Update & FAQs
The FAQs and special updates below summarize the settlement documents, and are not a substitute for the actual settlement documents.
These FAQs are based upon the settlement submitted to the Court for approval and assume that the settlement will be approved without unusual delays or appeals. However, that will not be known until the Court has reviewed the proposed settlement and approved it after public hearings that it will schedule.
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If you are submitting a claim for a minor child, you must fill out a Structured Settlement form to receive any compensation directly. If no form is submitted, the settlement money goes into a trust.
See all Claims information on the Claims page.
Help is Available
Office: 1188 Robert T Longway Blvd.
Services offered to you at no cost at the Flint Office:
Registration packet pick-up
Registration form pick-up
Registration form help
Technology Tips for Filing a Claim
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For technical help with the ARCHER website, www.officialflintwatersettlement.com:
Please contact Archer at 1-800-493-1754 or firstname.lastname@example.org for help with the Registration website.
If you contact Archer but are still unable to sign in, please contact us at 866-536-0717.
Compensation Under Settlement
How and when do I file a claim?
There is a two-step process after and assuming that the court approves the settlement.
First, you will have to indicate your intention to file a settlement claim by registering for the settlement.
Second, you will also need to complete and submit a separate claim form and the related documents mentioned in that claim form. Detailed information on the registration and then the claim-filing process, including deadlines, will be available on the website of the Court-appointed claims administrator.
How much money will I get?
It depends. If you or members of your family are eligible for a settlement payment, the amount of money you or they will receive will be based on your individual situation. The total amount of settlement dollars contributed by the settling parties is just over $641.2 million. Certain expenses and fees will be deducted from that amount and the remaining balance will be available to pay claims.
Of the total settlement dollars available to pay claims, approximately 79.5% will be spent on children who are or were minors when first exposed to Flint water, 18% will be spent on adults and property damage, 0.5% will be spent on business loss, and 2% will be spent on programs for the children of Flint. $20 million of the money will go directly to Legionella injuries and death cases as well.
Of the approximate 79.5% available to minors, 64.5% will be spent on children ages 6 and under when first exposed to Flint water, 10% will be spent on children ages 7-11 when first exposed to Flint water, and 5% will be spent on children ages 12-17 when first exposed to Flint water.
Payment amounts will vary, depending on the details of your claim and the category you qualify for based upon those details.
Specific information on qualifying criteria, monetary awards, documentation and proof requirements are part of the proposed settlement submitted to the Court. A Court-appointed claims administrator who will administer the submitted claims will set up a website with information explaining how to submit claims, deadlines, and many other details about the process. A link to that website will be accessible here once that website is running.
When will I get my money?
The timing is subject too many variables for us to give you a set time. The timing also depends on deadlines set by the Court.
The process is as follows:
The settlement agreement is submitted to the Court for review and preliminary approval.
The Court will schedule and hold a public hearing on whether to preliminarily approve the settlement. (12/10/2020)
If the Court preliminarily approves the settlement, then notice of the settlement and its proposed terms will be given throughout Flint and to the public. (Granted: 1/21/2021)
The public will then have several months to review the settlement, register for the settlement (January 28-March 29, 2021), submit objections to the Court (by March 29, 2021), opt-out of the settlement (by March 29, 2021), and make their own decisions about participating in the settlement.
At the end of that period, the Court will conduct a hearing on whether it will give final approval of the settlement (July 12, 2021).
The Court will only give final approval of the settlement if it finds that it is fair, reasonable, and adequate. For there to be a final settlement, the Court must approve it and there must be enough participation by Flint residents in the proposed settlement. Information on how to register for the settlement will be on the website of the Court-appointed claims administrator. A link to that website will be accessible here once that website is running.
After a person or business has registered for the settlement, they will also have to submit a claim.
Details on how and when to submit a claim will be on the website of the Court-appointed claims administrator in a manner similar to the Registration process (Deadline 8/26/2021).
If your claim is approved by the Court-appointed claims administrator, you will receive your payment after all claims have been submitted and processed.
After the date that the Court grants final approval of the settlement, the claims administration process is expected to take several months, and after that time, you should expect to receive your funds.
The above timetable is subject to the Court’s discretion, and it may be different depending on what the Court orders. If the Court approves the settlement and that approval is appealed to a higher court, there could be substantial delays of months or even years in the timeline. If the Court does not approve the settlement or if enough Flint residents do not register for it, there will not be a settlement.
If I owe money, will my settlement money be seized?
This depends on your personal circumstances, who you owe the money to, and whether they have taken any action to collect it, such as serving a valid lien to enforce their collection rights. As part of the settlement, the State of Michigan has agreed that any payment from the settlement will not be subject to certain Medicaid-related liens owed on the State’s portion of those liens. Details on that item and on how liens in general will be handled concerning settlement money are described in the settlement agreement.
Will I have to pay taxes on the money?
It depends on your individual situation and tax status. Typically, income taxes do not have to be paid on personal injury settlements. There could be tax consequences for money that you receive as part of the settlement for property damage or business loss. You should consult your own tax advisor for the answer to this question.
How will minors and legally incapacitated individuals get their settlement funds?
Through a Court-approved process. Special legal requirements must be met whenever payments are made for the benefit of a minor or a legally incapacitated individual. The same is true here. For a general outline of what the Court will require to submit a claim on behalf of a minor or a legally incapacitated individual, and how settlement proceeds will be paid for their benefit, see the settlement agreement and the website of the Court-appointed claims administrator, which we will post here when it is complete. The registration and settlement process for minors and legally incapacitated individuals will take place at the same time as the adults, property and business processes.
Why doesn’t every Flint resident get money?
Not everyone qualifies for the settlement. To receive settlement money, you must fit into one of the settlement categories that have been agreed upon by the plaintiffs and settling defendants, and that still must be approved by the Court. These settlement categories should include any person who could be entitled to any money due to the water in Flint. Also, in general, young minors who tested positive for elevated lead levels during the relevant time period will receive more money than other young minors who had lower or no lead levels. The same is the case for older minors. The amounts will vary depending on when a person was first exposed to the water and other factors. For more specific information and details, see the Settlement Agreement.
What is the source of the money to pay the settlement claims?
The following settling parties are funding the settlement in the amounts shown, subject to their rights described in the settlement agreement:
State of Michigan: $600 million
City of Flint: $20 million
McLaren Regional Medical Center: $20 million
Rowe Professional Services Company: $1.25 million
Can I appeal my settlement amount?
There will be an opportunity for you to ask the claims administrator to reconsider its initial determination of the award amount of your claim. There will also be an opportunity to appeal the claims administrator’s determination to the Special Master. In that event, the Special Master will determine whether the claims administrator erred based upon clear and convincing evidence and whether your award should be adjusted. The Special Master’s decision will be final. More detailed information about the reconsideration and appeal process is contained in the settlement agreement.
Will there any reimbursement for all the money homeowners and renter have paid on their water bills?
Compensation for property owners and renters is part of the proposed settlement.
What forms of documentation do I need to support my claim to funds from the settlement?
Please reference our Claims page for more information.
Court Proceedings Information
Will there be a hearing where the public can comment on the settlement?
Yes. The detailed settlement agreement for the Flint water-related civil lawsuits has been presented for preliminary approval to Judge Judith Levy of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. The settlement agreement is also available on the www.flintwaterjustice.com website. Judge Levy will set a date and hold a public hearing. After the hearing, if preliminary approval is granted by Judge Levy, then the process of claim registration, through which Flint residents indicate their intention to file a settlement claim, can begin.
If preliminary approval is granted, the final approval of the settlement will depend on a significant number of Flint residents registering their claim over a several month period to be set by the Court, and the Court’s determination after a final approval public hearing that the proposed settlement is fair, adequate and reasonable. It is anticipated that the participants in the settlement will be able to provide comments to the Court as part of the final approval public hearing process in accordance with a schedule to be set by the Court. If the settlement receives final approval after a public hearing by the Court, Flint residents and families will be able to receive monetary compensation on their submitted and eligible claims for exposure to Flint water after the April 25, 2014 switch to the Flint River.
Who is the Special Master?
The Special Master was appointed by the Federal Court during the Flint water litigation to help develop a structure for settling the civil Flint Water cases. The Special Master is Deborah Greenspan from the law firm of Blank Rome. Information about her background can be found at https://www.blankrome.com/people/deborah-greenspan. The Special Master is familiar with all aspects of the settlement structure. She will consult with the claims administrator and make certain decisions to assist in administering the registrations and claims submitted by claimants in the settlement. The Special Master will also decide certain appeals related to reconsideration requests of monetary awards that claimants may seek. The Special Master will also help resolve any disputes that may develop over the settlement documents. More detailed information about the Special Master’s role in the settlement is contained in the settlement agreement.
Will the settlement definitely be approved by the Court?
No, but we hope so. It has taken more than a year of complex and steady negotiations with many parties and Court-appointed mediators to reach this proposed settlement, which involves thousands of claims. The Court will only approve the settlement if it finds that it is reasonable, fair, adequate, and meets all legal requirements for such a settlement. In addition, a sufficient number of qualified minors, adults, business owners, and property owners must register for the settlement for it to successfully proceed. Details on these requirements are in the settlement agreement.
What about accountability/How do we know people will actually get their money?
Multiple layers of supervision are typically put in place in these types of settlements to ensure that the settlement payments are protected and used to pay valid claims. All settlement payments will be deposited and held in a qualified settlement fund. A claims administrator will be appointed by the Court. The claims administrator will be responsible for receiving, tracking, and then paying all valid claims from that fund. The claims administrator will be required to enact procedures to prevent fraud, issue monthly reports, and maintain a record of activities undertaken. To ensure the integrity of the process, the claims administrator will report to and be overseen by the Court.
Who is the Court-appointed claims administrator?
The Court has been asked to approve and appoint Archer Systems, LLC as the claims administrator. Information about Archer can be found at https://www.archersystems.com. The claims administrator is responsible for administering many of the details of the settlement, including, among other things, providing and processing registration and claim forms, receiving and analyzing those forms from claimants, reporting to the Court and parties on all aspects of implementing the settlement, paying valid claims, communicating with claimants, maintaining a settlement website and database, and many other aspects of the settlement. More detailed information about the Court-appointed claims administrator’s role in the settlement is contained in the settlement agreement.
Why isn’t anyone going to prison as punishment for their role in what happened?
This settlement is part of the civil law process and is completely separate from the criminal law process. Civil matters like this are resolved financially, and not by criminal prosecution. Any decisions about criminal prosecutions concerning water in Flint are entirely unrelated to this civil settlement.
Why is there a settlement instead of a trial?
A settlement avoids uncertainty and helps the people of Flint begin to heal. After more than four years of litigation in numerous courts, with many more years of uncertain and risky litigation ahead, all of the parties to the settlement decided to reach a full and final settlement at this time. As part of the settlement approval process detailed in these FAQs, the Court will have to determine that the settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate. In addition, the participating lawyers who filed lawsuits on behalf of individual plaintiffs or who pursued class action lawsuits agree that this settlement is in the best interests of their clients and is preferable to continuing to litigate. The cases are very complex and there is real risk in continuing to litigate these cases in Court. For instance, continuing litigation and going to trial could result in Flint residents receiving no financial recovery. A settlement avoids that risk and helps all of us to start the healing process together.
How much will the plaintiffs’ lawyers receive?
The Court will determine the amount of plaintiffs’ attorney fees and expenses. In general, the plaintiffs’ attorneys will make arguments to the Court as to how much they should receive for their years of efforts. The requests by plaintiffs’ attorneys to the Court on the amount of their attorneys’ fees and expenses will be available to the public after being filed with the Court. The Court will make the ultimate decision.
What about the other engineering companies and other defendants in the lawsuits?
While this settlement will resolve the lawsuits filed against the State and the other settling defendants, it does not settle the lawsuits that plaintiffs and the people of Flint have against other responsible parties, such as the two remaining engineering companies advising about Flint’s water supply, and the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
The lawsuits brought against the two remaining engineering companies advising about Flint’s water supply, and the United States Environmental Protection Agency will continue and may provide more compensation to the people of Flint in later settlements or verdicts against them.
The State will also continue its lawsuit against the two remaining engineering companies, seeking to make them pay for their share of the damages caused by them due to their involvement with Flint’s water.
How do I report potential fraud to the Court-appointed claims administrator?
You will be able to report suspected fraud to the Court-appointed claims administrator by contacting them via email, writing, or phone. The claims administrator is also experienced in detecting fraudulent claims and conduct and will be applying that experience in performing its claims administration duties in this settlement.
How long will it take to get settlement after ruling from judge?
Remember that the Judge will have two hearings. The initial hearing is set for December 21 at 1:30pm. At this December hearing, we are asking the Court to grant Preliminary Approval of the proposed settlement. We anticipate that Judge Levy will issue her Order either granting or denying Preliminary Approval sometime in January, but it could take longer. If Judge Levy does grant Preliminary Approval, then the Notice and Registration process will begin. The Court will then have a second hearing during which we will ask that Judge Levy grant Final Approval of the Settlement. If Judge Levy grants Final Approval, the Claims sign up process will begin. As we have more information on the timing of each step, we will share it with you. At this point, please know that we are doing all we can to move the process as quickly as possible towards compensation for the residents of Flint.
Why are the children not a part of the settlement class, even though they will participate in the settlement program?
The proposed settlement reached with the defendants gives the children the right to make claims now under the settlement and sets aside funds for children who wish to file claims later. This means that each child has the ability to file claims on an individual basis rather than being part of a class action.
Legal Rights Information
Will I need a lawyer?
No. You are not required to have a lawyer to register or to later file a
settlement claim. However, if you are a parent or guardian of a minor, or
were a minor when the water crisis started, it may be helpful for you to have
a lawyer in the process, and we are happy to discuss this with you and help
you through the claims process.
Do I need to retain a separate lawyer to file claims for my children who
were minors when the water crisis began?
You do not need to retain a lawyer in order to make a claim from the settlement; however, if you have not hired an attorney specifically to assist you with claims for children who are or were minors during the water crisis and would like to do so, we are happy to assist you with that. Please contact us directly so that we can discuss your child’s eligibility.
What if I do not want to participate in this settlement?
You do not have to participate in the settlement. That is entirely up to you. However, if you were an adult when first exposed to the Flint water after the switch to the Flint River, or have any business or property damage relating to the water in Flint, and you do not want to participate in this settlement, you must actively opt-out of the settlement. If you participate in this settlement, then you will lose any further right to make a claim relating to exposure to Flint water. Information on how and when to opt-out of the settlement is in the settlement agreement and will be available on the Court-appointed claims administrator website. If you do opt-out of the settlement, you can then maintain or bring your own separate Court case, which may be subject to case management orders, timelines and other specific requirements determined by the Court. The proposed case management orders are in an exhibit to the settlement agreement.
I have received phone calls from other law firms indicating that I should call them because there is another lawsuit with the City of Flint. Is this true?
No law firm should be calling you unless you have requested information from them. The proposed settlement includes the City of Flint.
Medical Documentation & Logistics
In the proposed tiers of the settlement for the children, it says children may need to have a CANTAB test to prove their cognitive delays. Are there plans to have clinics for these tests or do parents need to find places to get them done on their own?
We are working to have a group of specialists who will be able to assist with evaluating and testing any child who is believed to have cognitive delays as a result of exposure to Flint water. We will have more information posted on the website as soon as this is finalized.
Some people have provided a substantial amount of medical documents to their attorneys on this team. Are additional documents still required?
If there are additional records which you believe provide further information related to the settlement categories, please begin to gather and hold those. You do not need to send them to the team right now.
Should I complete the Authorization to Disclose Blood Lead Test Result Data authorization form that is part of the Registration Form?
Yes. This allows the Claims Administrator to access any blood lead test results you may have. These records help demonstrate the harms you’ve suffered as a result of the Crisis. We recommend that even if you do not recall having a blood lead test done since April 25, 2014, that you still complete this form.
Will a school IEP work for proof of mental disability for children?
Documentation showing cognitive delays or disability will be helpful, especially if it includes an evaluation from a Neuropsychologist. While an IEP alone will not be sufficient proof to qualify, if your child has had an IEP, please gather copies for each year so that we can evaluate for the Claims Process.
I am concerned about the lead test results and the authenticity of those tests. There were articles from MLive that reported the Genesee County Health Department workers were told to decrease or not report the number of children who had a high blood level. How can it be proven if the information was not accurately reported?
If a physician conducted a blood lead test, the physician was required to report that to the State of Michigan. The State has maintained a database of all test results. If you submit the Medical Authorization, the State will provide the test result if there is one.
Why are the adults without medical proof of damage being excluded? Can the pool be divided to include them?
Individuals who were 18 or older at first exposure to the water who have proof of lead in the blood will be given the opportunity to present their blood and bone scan test results. If those individuals believe they have medical problems related to the water exposure, they will be given the opportunity to present their medical records. If they have experienced no medical issues, but owned or rented property during the exposure period they will have the opportunity to recover a property damage payment with proof of ownership or rental. Adults can get compensation for all three categories of claims: Business loss, property and personal injury (with the appropriate proof and documentation.)
Do I need to get a blood lead test?
No. Having a blood lead test done now is not likely to show the lead level you were exposed to during the Crisis. Lead leaves the bloodstream after a relatively short amount of time. There are other tests that can be performed to reveal the lead level in a person’s body, such as a bone scan. We will have additional information on this in the near future.
FEBRUARY 2021: SETTLEMENT SUBMITTED TO JUDGE JUDITH LEVY
Registration for Settlement
What is the deadline for registering?
The Registration Period has ENDED and was a necessary step to file a claim. You will receive a claims form automatically from the Claims Administrator if you registered.
What is Registration?
Registration establishes your legal eligibility to participate in the settlement as someone exposed to or harmed by the Flint Water Crisis between April 25, 2014 and November 16, 2020.
Who is a "registrant"?
Any adult, property owner, business owner, or minor child Between April 25, 2014 through Nov. 16, 2020. You do NOT have to be represented by an attorney to file under this settlement. If you meet the criteria above, you are designated a member of the Class.
Once registered, how do you know that your registration has been received?
If you register, you should receive confirmation of your registration. If you are unsure of your registration status, please email us at email@example.com, and we can inquire for you.
How do I answer the question “Did you hire an attorney to represent or assist you?”
You do NOT have to be represented by an attorney to benefit under the settlement.
Can a deceased person’s estate file a settlement claim?
If someone has died but they met the criteria to qualify for the settlement while they were alive, their estate may register and pursue a claim.
Will I be eligible for reimbursement for the cost of replacing the lead piping in my home? Will I need to retain a different attorney for this claim?
Property damage, such as replacing lead piping, is taken into consideration in the settlement. If you have more questions about whether the settlement is right for you, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We can connect you with an attorney for discussion.
Why do we have to fill out more paperwork when we have already signed up and signed a retainer for this lawsuit?
The Registration and Claim Forms are necessary for participating in the settlement and determining settlement awards. If you have retained an attorney, your attorney can assist you in filling out these forms and making a claim from the settlement funds. Any retained attorney will be following the same procedures outlined by the court and listed here.