U.S. Supreme Court Allows Flint Residents To Sue Over Water Contamination
The suit’s plaintiffs seek to hold city officials accountable for the water crisis that exposed thousands of residents to dangerous levels of lead.
The U.S. Supreme Court is allowing Flint, Michigan residents to pursue a civil rights lawsuit against the city and government. The suit seeks to hold city officials accountable for the water crisis that exposed thousands of residents to dangerous levels of lead.
According to Reuters, justices turned away two appeals by the state, the city, and local officials of a lower court ruling that allowed the lawsuit to move forward on Tuesday. Officials originally asked for immunity, which the lower court rejected on the grounds that they violated the residents’ right to “bodily integrity” under the U.S. Constitution.
In 2014, Flint switched its drinking water source from Lake Huron and the Detroit River to the Flint River—soon after, residents started reporting changes in the water’s small, color, and taste.
Tests from the Environmental Protection Agency and Virginia Tech in 2015 confirmed that the water contained dangerous levels of lead. A state of emergency and federal state of emergency were eventually called to allocate funds to the town, whose residents were experiencing health problems. including an outbreak of bacteria-caused Legionnaires’ Disease.
Many lawsuits and criminal charges have since been filed against city officials in connection to the incident, which affected more than 25,000 people—though prosecutors shockingly dropped charges against eight individuals involved last year.
The case that appeared before the Supreme Court was filed in 2016 by two Flint residents, including Shari Guertin, who said she and her child were exposed to high levels of lead.
Although state officials have said that the water in Flint is now safe to drink, many continue to drink bottled water and doubt officials' statements, the New York Times reports.