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Why is Court of Claims handling DPS, Flint water crisis lawsuits?

Judge's gavel
Flickr user Joe Gratz
The Michigan Supreme Court will choose a new Supreme Court Chief Justice today

The Court of Claims is all over the news lately, with Detroit Public Schools’ attempt to establish a temporary restraining order to block teacher sick-outs and the class action lawsuits in Flint due to the water crisis.

But what is the Court of Claims?

“The Court of Claims is the only court in the Michigan state judicial system that has subject matter jurisdiction to hear claims against the state and its subdivisions,” said Christopher Hastings, a professor at Cooley Law School. “So if you sue the state of Michigan, or you sue one of its departments, you’re in the Court of Claims.”

According to Professor Hastings, the Flint water disaster has created a “messy” legal situation because there are three class action lawsuits.

“They all have the same class representatives, and they all have the same plaintiffs’ lawyers,” said Hastings. “It’s possible to bring all of the claims in all three of those lawsuits in federal court.”

Lawyers and non-lawyers alike can listen to the full interview to learn more about the Flint water lawsuits and an analysis of the movement of the Court of Claims from the Ingham County Circuit Court to the Court of Appeals in 2013, which was a highly controversial move in 2013.

 - Josh Hakala, Stateside Staff

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