Flint Water Case Moves Forward with Discovery

The City of Flint, Mich., and other defendants responded to a fifth amended complaint filed in the consolidated Eastern District of Michigan case addressing the Flint Water Crisis on Tuesday. The city began using water from the Flint River in April 2014 and issues with the water continued through 2015. The city held that it lacked information to admit or deny added allegations in the complaint.

Judge Judith E. Levy, who is assigned to oversee the lawsuits, filed a Case Management Order on the same day, which applies to all defendants who have filed an answer to the amended complaint outlining protocol for discovery in the case and how the case will move forward.

Judge Levy stated, “the purpose of this Order is to effectuate efficiency and limit duplication in the discovery processes associated with litigation arising out of claims made regarding the use of the Flint River as a water source.” She clarified that although it applies to all cases, it is not meant to “circumvent” individual judge’s authority over their cases.

The complaint the defendants responded to is a 222-page document filed on June 30. The plaintiffs are asking for damages and relief based on allegations that the government and other defendants are responsible for pollutants including lead in the water in Flint, Michigan. They are also seeking for the court to declare that actions of the government defendants were unconstitutional.

Because the defendants already answered previous complaints, they only directed responses to paragraphs 26, 27, 29, and 31 in the complaint. These sections added information about minor children, who allegedly were exposed to high levels of lead and experienced issues like hair loss or skin rashes. It also added allegations from a restaurant owner, who claimed the water pollution caused a “significant reduction in income.”

Michael Glasgow, Utilities Administrator for Flint; Howard Croft, Public Works Director for Flint; and Gerald Ambrose, Emergency Manager for Flint; and Daugherty Johnson, Utilities Administrator for Flint; filed responses to the complaint on Tuesday as well. The defendants did not admit or deny the new allegations, but some denied that they were the “direct and proximate” cause.

The city of Flint is represented by its lawyers and Butzel Long, P.C; Glasgow is represented by Christopher J. Marker and Gregory W. Mair; Croft is represented by White Law PLLC; Ambrose is represented by Barry A. Wolf; and Johnson is represented by the Law Office of Edwar A. Zeineh.

The complaint was filed by counsel for plaintiffs, including: Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC; Susman Godfrey, L.L.P.; Pitt McGehee Palmer & Rivers, P.C.; Weitz & Luxenberg, P.C.; Bronstein, Gewirtz & Grossman, LLC; Berezofsky Law Group, LLC; The Law Offices of Teresa A. Bingman, PLLC; Goodman & Hurwitz PC; Law Offices of Deborah A. Labelle; The Dedendum Group; Law Office of Cirilo Martinez, PLLC; Shea Aiello, PLLC; McAlpine PC; Trachelle C. Young & Associates PLLC; McKeen & Associates, PC; Cynthia M. Lindsey & Associates, PLLC; and Abood Law Firm.