Flint Water Settlement Rises to $641 Million
The multimillion-dollar settlement to resolve a civil lawsuit from when the city of Flint switched its public water supply to the Flint River was presented to the court Tuesday for preliminary approval.
This is in support to resolve the lawsuits and provide Flint residents with more financial relief.
Attorney General Dana Nessel, along with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, announced in August that a preliminary settlement had been reached, with the State than as the only participating defendant.
Since then, the City of Flint, McLaren Regional Medical Center, and Rowe Professional Services Co. have each agreed to settle the claims against them, bringing the total settlement to about $641.2 million.
The City of Flint has agreed to contribute $20 million that will come from its insurance provider rather than its general fund or money derived from taxpayers.
The Flint City Council must still approve of this decision.
McLaren Regional Medical Center is providing $20 million and Rowe Professional Services Co. is providing $1.25 million.
The detailed settlement agreement was submitted to Judge Judith Levy of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.
Judge Levy will review the agreement as part of a motion for preliminary approval, and later issue a ruling on whether the settlement meets certain legal standards. A public hearing will be held prior to her ruling.
If preliminary approval is granted, then the claim registration process can begin, and Flint residents will have the opportunity to indicate their intention to file a claim.
“Submitting this settlement for preliminary approval is part of the legal process, but it is also an important step forward in providing the residents of Flint with relief,” Nessel said.
“Without this settlement, which makes affected children a top priority, Flint residents would have been provided little assurance that their claims would be successful in court, and ongoing litigation could have prolonged their hardships for years. Resolving these legal disputes against the State, and now the other defendants who have joined the settlement are the best possible outcome for Flint’s future.”
The settlement agreement specifies that about 80 percent of the net settlement fund will be spent on claims of children who were minors when first exposed to Flint River water, with a large majority of that amount to be paid for claims of children age 6 and younger.
Another 18 percent of the net settlement funds are to be spent on claims of adults and for property damage.
Roughly 1 percent will go toward claims for business losses.
For Judge Levy to grant preliminary approval, the court will have to determine that the proposed settlement is fair, adequate, and reasonable.
Once preliminary approval is given, Flint residents will have 60 days to register to participate in the settlement program.
After registration, Flint residents that have registered will have 120 days to file the documents necessary to support their claims.
The settlement agreement provides specific procedures and protections for claimants that are minors and legally incapacitated individuals.
The settlement agreement further sets aside a fund for claimants, who were minors at the time of exposure to Flint water, that fail to timely register or submit claims materials required under the settlement agreement.
If the settlement receives final court approval, it is likely to be the largest in Michigan state government history, affecting tens of thousands of people and resolving more than a hundred cases in state and federal trial and appellate courts.