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As deadline looms, people may get extension to file claims in Flint water crisis settlement

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

Flint residents may get more time to submit a claim for part of a $626 million Flint water crisis settlement.

Roughly 50,000 people applied for a share of the legal settlement with the state of Michigan, the city of Flint, McLaren Flint Hospital and Rowe Professional Services.

But to date, only about 13,000 official claims have been filed.

Time is running out. The deadline to file a claim is May 12.

During a court hearing Tuesday, Special Master Deborah Greenspan said she may file a recommendation in the next few days with U.S. District Judge Judith Levy for an extension. As Special Master, Greenspan oversees the claims process.

Greenspan says “it will likely be helpful to the entire process to provide a bit more time for individual claimants...and for the lawyers to finish compiling all the information.”

She says the state of Michigan has been helping by providing birth certificate and blood lead testing results to assist with people filing claims.

Collecting all the documents needed to file a claim has proved difficult for some.

But Judge Levy insists “there has to be integrity in the process,” especially when claims are being filed on behalf of minor children and legally incapacitated adults.

Nearly 80% of the money in the settlement is earmarked for those plaintiffs who were children at the time of the Flint water crisis. Children are especially at risk of suffering long-term health issues when exposed to high levels of lead.

The rest of the settlement is set aside to adults and others filing health and property damage claims.

In April, 2014, the city of Flint’s drinking water source was switched from Detroit’s water system to the Flint River. But the river water was not properly treated. Corrosive river water damaged pipes, releasing lead and other contaminants into Flint’s drinking water. Eighteen months later, Flint returned to Detroit’s water system.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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