Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette [official website] announced charges [press release] Wednesday against five former Flint officials for their part in the Flint water crisis. Schuette charged Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon, former Flint Emergency Manager Darnell Earley, former City of Flint Water Department Manager Howard Croft, as well as Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s Drinking Water Chief Liane Shekter-Smith and Water Supervisor Stephen Busch with involuntary manslaughter related to their alleged failure to act in the Flint Water Crisis. If convicted, the former officials could face up to 15 years in prison, and a $7,500 fine. The charges stem from when multiple Flint-area residents died of Legionnaires’ disease in the time immediately following the switch from Detroit Water and Sewer Department to the Flint River. All defendants charged with involuntary manslaughter are charged in particular for the death of Robert Skidmore, 85, of Mt. Morris, Michigan.
In March the state of Michigan agreed to allot $87 million to replace lead water pipes [JURIST report] in the city of Flint. In January more than 1,700 residents filed [JURIST report] a class action lawsuit against the US, claiming that the Environmental Protection Agency had failed to respond to damage claims arising from the Flint water crisis. These claims are some of the myriad of legal actions taken in response to the Flint water crisis. In December Schuette announced [JURIST report] that felony charges were filed against four former state officials connected with the Flint water crisis, with maximum prison sentences of 46 years available to the prosecutors. That same month a federal court affirmed [JURIST report] a lower court decision requiring the state of Michigan to provide bottled water to Flint residents. Last September the US Senate approved legislation to provide $100 million in emergency funding to repair pipes in cities suffering from lead contamination.