Detroit News – February 3, 2017
A federal judge has dismissed a major class-action lawsuit from Flint residents over how the state handled changes in the city’s water.
U.S. District Judge John Corbett O’Meara dismissed the case involving Flint resident and activist Melissa Mays and several Flint families on Thursday, saying “allowing … claims to proceed would circumvent the SWDA (Safe Water Drinking Act).”
The lawsuit was filed in 2015 against Gov. Rick Snyder, the city of Flint and other state and city officials involved in making the decision to use water from the corrosive Flint River, which caused high lead levels in the water municipal water system.
The class-action lawsuit was pursued on “behalf of tens of thousands of residents from Flint who from April 25, 2014 to the present, have experienced and will continue to experience serious personal injury and property damage caused by Defendants’ deliberate decision to expose them to the extreme toxicity of water pumped from the Flint River into their homes, schools, hospitals, workplaces and public places,” the complaint alleged.
In his opinion, O’Meara wrote that allowing Mays’ claims would be “inconsistent with Congress’ carefully tailored scheme” to “entrust the regulation of the public drinking water systems to an expert regulatory agency rather than the courts.”
The plaintiff’s attorney, Cary McGehee, said she would appeal the decision to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The claims made in Mays’ case were based on the 14th Amendment, equal protection and substantive due process laws, McGehee said Thursday.
“I would say this is a temporary setback. We believe strongly he misapplied the scope of SWDA. Our case is not brought under that Act. We feel we will win on appeal and the case will go forward,” McGehee said.