Legal Timeline

The following legal timeline is provided to give visitors a sense of the length and depth of the events surrounding the poisoning of the population of one of Michigan's largest cities. 

April 1, 2019 – Federal Judge Levy Reinstated Case Against Former Governor Snyder

On August 1, 2018, Federal Judge Levy ruled in Carthan v Snyder that the proposed class action filed in 2016 could go forward on many claims. However, Judge Levy dismissed Governor Snyder from the case because the allegations in the Complaint did not clearly establish that he either participated in causing, prolonging, or covering up the Crisis once public disclosure was required. The Court made its August 1st decision based on a Complaint we drafted in 2016. Using facts developed after 2016, we asked the Court to review the allegations in a Complaint that included the new information. On April 1, 2019, Judge Levy reinstated the case against Governor Snyder.  In doing so, she said this about the allegations regarding Governor Snyder’s responsibility for the Flint Water Crisis:  

 

Initially, the Governor was indifferent because instead of mitigating the risk of harm caused by the contaminated water, he covered it up. In private, he worried about the need to return Flint to DWSD water and the political implications of the crisis. But in public, he denied all knowledge, despite being aware of the developing crisis. As a result, plaintiffs were lured into a false sense of security. They could have taken protective measures, if only they had known what the Governor knew. Instead, the Governor misled them into assuming that nothing was wrong. Governor Snyder’s administration even encouraged them to continue to drink and bathe in the water……. Viewed as a whole, the allegations plausibly describe “conscience shocking” conduct. Governor Snyder’s actions were deliberately indifference and exhibited a callous disregard for plaintiffs’ right to bodily integrity.”

June 14, 2019

Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor Denied MDEQ Officials’ Attempt to Block Lower Courts’ Rulings

In January 2019, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals denied the MDEQ Defendants’ claims of Qualified Immunity on Bodily Integrity claims asserted by your legal team. In June, Defendants sought the opinion of a higher court to block these rulings. United States Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor, who handles these types of requests in this region of the country, denied their appeal without comment, as is customary. This means that all of the decisions we won on appeal are upheld, and the defense was denied an avenue of escape.

April 18, 2019

Major Victory in Case Against EPA

On April 18, 2019, Judge Linda Parker issued her opinion denying the EPA’s motion to dismiss the Burgess case.  Jan Burgess and nearly 3,000 other Flint residents have sued the EPA for its role in causing what the court said was “infamously known as the Flint Water Crisis.” Judge Parker said that “[a]t issue here is an obvious danger imperiling a city’s nearly 100,000 residents.” 

 

In response to the EPA’s argument that it should be excused for its honest mistakes in administrating public policy, Judge Parker said that “[t]his court…cannot conceive of a public policy consideration that could be legitimately balanced against the need to warn and protect an entire community from involuntary and continued poisoning.”   

 

Judge Parker condemned the EPA for its “failure to warn Flint residents of the severe health risks the City’s water supply posed to them…the EPA was well aware that the Flint River was highly corrosive and posed a significant danger of lead leaching out of the City’s lead-based service lines at alarming rates into residents homes [and] was well aware of the health risks posed by lead exposure, particularly to children and pregnant women.”

April 1, 2019

Federal Judge Levy Reinstated Case Against Former Governor Snyder

On August 1, 2018, Federal Judge Levy ruled in Carthan v Snyder that the proposed class action filed in 2016 could go forward on many claims. However, Judge Levy dismissed Governor Snyder from the case because the allegations in the Complaint did not clearly establish that he either participated in causing, prolonging, or covering up the Crisis once public disclosure was required.

 

The Court made its August 1st decision based on a Complaint we drafted in 2016. Using facts developed after 2016, we asked the Court to review the allegations in a Complaint that included the new information. On April 1, 2019, Judge Levy reinstated the case against Governor Snyder.  In doing so, she said this about the allegations regarding Governor Snyder’s responsibility for the Flint Water Crisis:  

 

Initially, the Governor was indifferent because instead of mitigating the risk of harm caused by the contaminated water, he covered it up. In private, he worried about the need to return Flint to DWSD water and the political implications of the crisis. But in public, he denied all knowledge, despite being aware of the developing crisis. As a result, plaintiffs were lured into a false sense of security.

 

They could have taken protective measures, if only they had known what the Governor knew. Instead, the Governor misled them into assuming that nothing was wrong. Governor Snyder’s administration even encouraged them to continue to drink and bathe in the water……. Viewed as a whole, the allegations plausibly describe “conscience shocking” conduct. Governor Snyder’s actions were deliberately indifference and exhibited a callous disregard for plaintiffs’ right to bodily integrity.”

January 4, 2019

Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals Ruled that Public Officials Can Be Held Accountable for Causing the Flint Water Crisis

On January 4, 2019, the Federal Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its decision in Guertin v State of Michigan. The Court was asked to review Judge Levy’s ruling that the Emergency Managers and City and State employees could be held responsible for creating and prolonging the Flint Water Crisis.

 

In a sharply worded opinion, the Court said the Emergency Managers and City and State employees should be held accountable for the harm they caused. 

 

Here is a sample of what the Court said about the allegations against City and State employees:

“As with the Flint defendants, these MDEQ defendants created the Flint Water environmental disaster and then intentionally attempted to cover-up their grievous decision. Their actions shock our conscience.  It is alleged that these defendants acted with deliberate indifference to the plaintiffs’ constitutional right to bodily integrity and at a minimum were plainly incompetent.”

June 27, 2019

Flint Water Crisis Legal Team Holds Town Hall

One June 27th, 2019, members of your legal team and leaders from other Flint relief efforts met at UAW Local 659 to update you on the ongoing litigation and respond to questions.

 

Among those who gave statements were attorneys Michael Pitt, Ted Leopold, Cynthia Lindsey, and Trachelle Young of your legal team, in addition to attorney Kristen Totten of the Americal Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), attorney Jeremy Orr from the National Resource Defense Council (NRDC), and several local faith and community leaders, Pastor Monica Villareal, Clare McClinton, and Bishop Bernadel Jefferson.

 

At least two dozen other professionals who did not speak attended the Town Hall in support of securing justice for Flint.

June 13, 2019

Attorney General Dana Nessel Dismisses All Pending Criminal Cases Without Prejudice

On June 13, 2018, Attorney General Dana Nessel dismissed all pending criminal cases without prejudice, citing shoddy work by their predecessors as the reason for the dismissal of criminal charges.

 

Todd Flood, Snyder’s private appointee whom they fired in April 2019, may not have fully examined all relevant documents, they said. Dismissing these charges without prejudice allows them to file them again in the future should they find evidence that leads them to do so.

 

The Attorney General’s office is currently reviewing files presumably left unexamined by their predecessors.

August 1, 2018

Federal Judge Levy Dismissed Governor Snyder

On August 1, 2018, Federal Judge Levy ruled in Carthan v Snyder that the proposed class action filed in 2016 could go forward on many claims. However, Judge Levy dismissed Governor Snyder from the case because the allegations in the Complaint did not clearly establish that he either participated in causing, prolonging, or covering up the Crisis once public disclosure was required.

May 2, 2018

Victory in the Court of Appeals

On May 2, 2018 your legal team presented our argument in the Michigan Court of Appeals regarding the right to a jury trial in the claims against the state for racial discrimination. Your legal team was successful in convincing the panel that these claims should be heard in Circuit Court with a jury trial instead of the Court of Claims.

March 19, 2018

US Supreme Court Victory

On March 19, 2018 the U.S. Supreme Court denied the defendants’ efforts to overturn the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals’ July 2017 unanimous ruling in the Mays Federal Class Action Suit finding that the case sets forth viable constitutional legal theories against the City of Flint, Genesee County’s Drain Commissioner, and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality officials. The 6th Circuit Decision can be read here. This is a major victory for the people of Flint!

 

The State of Michigan and other defendants are reaching the end of their line in their ongoing efforts to avoid being held accountable. We can now move forward with the merits of your case. 

January 25, 2018

US Supreme Court Victory

On January 25, 2018, the Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed Judge Boonstra’s earlier decision that your claims against the State Defendants, including Governor Snyder, and City of Flint alleging a violation of your constitutional rights arising out of the Flint water crisis are valid and that your case can proceed to the discovery phase. This is a huge victory and means that we can now move forward with the merits of your case.

January 16, 2018

Judge Levy Appointed Mediators to Help Settle Case

On January 16, 2019, Judge Levy appointed former U.S. Senator Carl Levin and retired Michigan Circuit Judge Pamela Harwood as mediators to help settle the case. Mediators are charged with the responsibility of meeting with the parties to discuss in earnest the possibility of settlement of all claims against State defendants, the City of Flint, and the engineering firms.

December 2017

Case Against the EPA Enters Discovery

The discovery process is underway in your case against the EPA. The Flint Water Crisis Legal Team has conducted depositions (sworn testimony) that will aid in proving the federal and state government’s role in the Flint Water Crisis and pave the way to getting you justice in the courts. We have conducted depositions of the following important EPA officials:

September 29, 2017

Interim Co-Lead Class Counsel Submits Consolidated Complaint

On September 29, 2017 we submitted a Consolidated Amended Class Complaint to Judge Levy entitled “In re Flint Water Cases.” This complaint consolidates those claims presented in the Legal Team’s earlier complaints, such as Mays and Village Shores, with those of other complaints brought by other attorneys who have not been appointed as interim lead counsel. In presenting one unified, consolidated complaint to the court, we will be better able to present your claims to the court, able to better advocate on your behalf, and more likely to reach a coherent and consistent decision from the judge and jury as to all of the relief that  you are entitled to.

July 26, 2017

Michael Pitt and Ted Leopold Appointed Interim Co-Lead Class Counsel by Judge Levy

On July 26, 2017, federal district court Judge Judith Levy, who is presiding over all the Flint Water Class Actions and individual cases that have been filed in federal court, appointed our legal team, led by Michael Pitt of The Flint Water Class Action Legal Team and Ted Leopold of the New York law firm Cohen Milstein, as interim co-lead counsel for all class action cases filed by any other attorneys pending in the federal court.

 

This means that your legal team will be leading the efforts and making decisions to obtain justice for you and other citizens of Flint harmed by the water crisis. Michael Pitt is an original member of your Legal Team which was first to file suit in federal court, in state court and against the EPA and who have been advocating for the Flint community since the news first broke of the crisis.

January 30, 2017

Flint Water Crisis Legal Team Files Lawsuit Against EPA

Flint Water Crisis Legal Team filed a lawsuit against the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) in Federal District Court in Detroit, MI. The title of the case is Jan Burgess and was brought before Judge Linda Parker, a well-respected jurist.

Flint Water Justice

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