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Genesee County Circuit Court judge signs off on Flint water settlement

Circuit Court Judge David Newblatt (file photo)
Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio
Circuit Court Judge David Newblatt (file photo)

Two recent court rulings are moving the Flint water crisis civil settlement closer to reality.

Genesee County Circuit Court Judge David Newblatt has given approval for state cases in the $626 million settlement that includes both state and federal lawsuits. A federal judge approved the settlement back in December 2021.

Meanwhile, a federal appeals court last week upheld a judge’s decision to cap attorneys’ fees in the settlement at 25%.

These decisions are the latest legal steps in the process to begin distributing money from the settlement to tens of thousands of claimants.

Nearly 80% of the net settlement is earmarked for those exposed to Flint’s lead contaminated drinking water when they were children. The remaining 20% will be divided among affected adults, personal property, business damages and education programs.

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

The state of Michigan, the city of Flint and McLaren Regional Medical Center and Rowe Professional services agreed to set up the fund as a way of settling claims related to Flint’s water crisis.

A claims administrator is still reviewing claims from tens of thousands of applicants. The exact amount each claimant will receive will depend on how many of those claims are approved.

The settlement does not cover all claims, since many plaintiffs opted not to join the settlement.

There are also numerous lawsuits against other businesses and government agencies not included in the settlement.

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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