[JURIST] The Detroit News [news report] reported Friday that six state employees have been criminally indicted in relation to the Flint water crisis. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette [official website] filed the criminal charges against three employees of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) [official website] and three Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) [official website] employees. The DHSS employees indicted were Nancy Peeler, Robert Scott and Corrine MIller, and the charges include “misconduct in office, conspiring to commit misconduct in office and willful neglect of duty relating to allegedly concealing or disregarding test results showing high levels of lead in the bloodstreams of Flint residents.” The DEQ employees indicted were former chief of Michigan’s Office of Drinking Water and Municipal Assistance, Shekter Smith, and water regulators Patrick Cook and Adam Rosenthal. All three face various charges, including misconduct in office and willful neglect of duty, for their various roles in misleading environmental officials and denying and refusing to address the heightened levels of lead in Flint’s drinking water.
Numerous lawsuits have been filed in response to the Flint water contamination crisis. In May the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) [advocacy website] brought a lawsuit [JURIST report] against against Michigan officials for their action and inaction in Flint. A month prior a group of Flint residents filed an administrative complaint [JURIST report] against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) [official website] for negligence in handling the Flint water crisis. David Leyton, a prosecutor in Genesee County, Michigan, announced in April that a Michigan judge would allow criminal charges [JURIST report] against three people involved in the water crisis in Flint, including the man who supervised the treatment plant as well as two state environmental officials. Earlier in April the city of Flint filed [JURIST report] an intent to sue letter with the state, claiming that the city lacks funds to defend itself against lawsuit filed during the water crisis. Hertz Schram PC, a southeastern Michigan firm, filed [JURIST report] a class action lawsuit in March on behalf of the children in Flint who were injured by exposure to the high levels of lead in the city’s drinking water.