Hertz Schram PC [website], a southeastern Michigan firm, filed a class action lawsuit [complaint, PDF] Tuesday on behalf of the children in Flint, Michigan, who were injured by exposure to the high levels of lead in the city’s drinking water [NYT timeline]. The class represents children under the age of 17, who sustained brain damage as a result of the exposure. The firm has said that any child who consumed the water could have suffered permanent brain damage. Elizabeth Thomson [professional profile], the lead attorney in the case, said in a press release, “[t]he damage caused by the Flint Water crisis will have a life long impact on these kids and their families.” The suit states that there is no safe level of lead exposure and that children are more susceptible to lead poisoning than adults. The firm maintains that any child who consumed the water could have suffered permanent brain damage. The claim alleges gross negligence on the part of officials who made misleading statements regarding the water’s safety. Thompson has condemned Flint officials for failing to consider the needs of the city’s children when addressing the water crisis.
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. Earlier this month seven families living in Flint, Michigan, filed a class action lawsuit [complaint, PDF] against Governor Rick Snyder alleging gross negligence [JURIST report] in connection to the lead-contaminated water. This same month 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.