Jan Burgess is legally blind, but that doesn’t stop the Flint resident from playing detective when gathering evidence to document the impact the city’s corrosive water has had on her body, home and well-being.
Anxious for information on the case, Burgess seeks updates from a website,flintwaterclassaction.com, that was designed by a Metro Detroit legal team to educate Flint residents on how to prepare for their actual date in court.
Written by lawyers, the website explains how to preserve evidence by using a damage inventory instruction sheet and provides developments on the cases that have been filed and opportunities to volunteer by reaching others impacted by the contaminated water.
The website contains general instructions on collecting evidence and a warning: “If you do not preserve evidence or if you destroy it, you may not be able to recover damages in this case. This is a legal requirement. … All photographs, videos, emails, text messages, water samples and documents which relate to your case must be preserved and made available to the attorneys for the parties you are suing.”
Julie Hurwitz and Bill Goodman, two civil rights attorneys from Detroit, are among a dozen attorneys including members of Pitt McGehee Palmer & Rivers who make up what they are calling the Flint Water Class Action Team.
Part of the process of seeking certification is gathering common claims from a sufficient number of people, Hurwitz said. But there are no hard and fast numbers to indicate when they’ve reached that point.
“There has to be a way for a court and a jury to be able to assess the damages suffered by the victims. There has to be a way to categorize their damages,” she said. “The court has to call everyone together when it’s clear they know who everyone is.”