The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals just reversed a federal district judge and ruled that the Flint water lawsuits may proceed. Under the Safe Drinking Water Act, the district judge had decided that, while the plaintiffs could sue for injunctive relief (aka clean up your water), they couldn’t sue for money damages. Now however, the lawsuits can go forward against everyone except the State, the state agencies, and the governor. That means the city and its officials could be on the hook for millions, tens of millions, or even hundreds of millions of dollars.
The court noted that Flint billed residents continuously for their water services and engaged in collection efforts when payments were not made, including disconnecting water service and issuing liens against real property. While the most notable claim is lead poisoning, the plaintiffs’ claims also include gastrointestinal discomfort, distress, and decreased property values.
Boler v. Earley, Nos. 16-1684/17-1144, 2017 WL 3202778 (6th Cir. July 28, 2017)