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Michigan governor facing class action lawsuit over water contamination

[JURIST] Seven families living in Flint, Michigan, filed a class action lawsuit [complaint, PDF] against Governor Rick Snyder [official website] on Monday alleging gross negligence in connection to the lead-contaminated water. The suit, filed under the Safe Water and Lead-Free Water Acts [materials], alleges that Snyder, as well as other public officials, violated the Clean Water Act through gross negligence. The families are suing for damages for thousands of Flint residents who experienced physical and economic injuries due to the contaminated water. Many children in the area have tested positive [NBC News report] for high levels of lead exposure, and many have resorted to using bottled water for everything from drinking to bathing.

This lawsuit is the latest development in the Flint water crisis. Public officials have come under fire [Atlantic report] for their response to the crisis, as it took 20 months after the initial switch in water supply for an emergency to be declared by the state. Last week a group of UN human rights experts called on [JURIST report] the US to increase its efforts to address the issue of lead-contaminated water in Flint, Michigan. In January the Natural Resources Defense Council filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, seeking the replacement of lead water pipes in the city of Flint. The lawsuit, filed in conjunction with Concerned Pastors for Social Action, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan and Flint resident Melissa Mays, seeks to force city and state officials to mediate alleged violations of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. Also in January Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette appointed a former prosecutor [JURIST report] to act as Special Counsel in his investigation into the water contamination crisis in the city of Flint, and a retired Detroit FBI chief will also participate in the investigation.

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