From April 18 Edition of the Detroit Free Press
A group of Flint residents suing over the water crisis is dealing with the immunity argument again, this time in a challenge from local officials.
In a court filing today, the City of Flint asked a federal judge to dismiss a class-action against it on immunity grounds. The State of Michigan did the same thing two weeks ago in the same lawsuit.
Flint residents are seeking to hold the city and state liable for allegedly exposing them to toxic water and causing a host of health issues. They want money and the water problem fixed — though both defendants claim they’re immune from liability under the U.S. Constitution.
“We’re trying to move them in the right direction. Lawsuits are like cattle-prods — they move people in the right direction,” said Michael Pitt, one of the attorneys who filed the lawsuit.
Pitt also accused the defendants of misinterpreting the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) to “try to deflect their responsibility.”
“Congress, in enacting the SDWA, did not intend to deprive injured water users of their right to obtain fair compensation for the egregious acts of these government employees responsible for the poisoning of an entire community,” Pitt said. “Phony legal arguments will not protect them, and they will be held accountable.”
The lawsuit, which was filed in November, seeks to hold state and local authorities liable for allegedly endangering the health of Flint residents by exposing them to toxic water when Flint switched its drinking water from the Detroit system to the Flint River. It alleges that local and state officials unnecessarily exposed them to toxic public water for more than 18 months, resulting in physical and psychological injuries, including high levels of lead in their bloodstreams; skin lesions and hair loss; chemically induced hypertension; autoimmune disorders; seizure-like convulsions; depression, and chronic anxiety. The lawsuit seeks compensation for Flint residents’ physical injuries and property damages and asks that the State of Michigan undertake future corrective action, including lifetime medical monitoring for all the children injured by the tainted water.