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Bellwether trial begins alleging engineering firm negligence in Flint water crisis

The Flint River flows past downtown Flint, Mich., in 2020. Many city residents still don't fully trust the safety of their tap water.
Seth Herald
AFP via Getty Images
In 2014, the city of Flint and its emergency manager decided to switch from Detroit's water system to water from the Flint River, with disastrous results.

Opening statements in the Flint water bellwether trial begin Monday.

Four children in Flint allege they were injured by exposure to lead in Flint's drinking water, and that the engineering firms that advised the city and its emergency manager on water issues were responsible and negligent.

The firms, Veolia and LAN, deny responsibility and deny any negligence.

A bellwether trial is meant to help predict how other plaintiffs might do, if they also sued the same defendants.

The trial could last four months, according to the court. The engineering firms being sued are not part of a previous $626 million partial settlement with the state of Michigan, city of Flint, McLaren Regional Hospital, and Rowe Professional Services.

How to watch the proceedings:

To register for the live stream, go to the Court’s website at www.mied.uscourts.gov and click on the “Court Calendar” on the lower right side of the screen. On the next page, use the “Jump to Date” option and click on “Go” to get to the calendar for February 15.

Click on “Access Attendance Information.” On the next screen, enter the two numbers in reverse order, check the box indicating you have read and understand the rules against recording, photographing, or broadcasting court proceedings, and click on Submit.

The next page will provide you with the access link to get to the proceedings. The proceedings may get underway after 8:30 a.m. if the judge is meeting in chambers with lawyers.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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