Plaintiffs Claim Michigan Attorney’s Mailers Threaten Settlement in Flint Water Contamination Suit

The plaintiffs litigating with the State of Michigan to recover damages over the 2014 Flint water crisis moved for an order preliminarily enjoining and temporarily restraining attorney Loyst Fletcher, Jr. from communicating with the class and individual plaintiffs regarding the proposed settlement. By motion dated Feb. 3, the plaintiffs explain that Fletcher sent unsolicited letters containing false and misleading statements to individually represented plaintiffs and class members.

As previously reported, Judge Judith E. Levy of the Eastern District of Michigan granted preliminary approval to the parties’ $600 million settlement in mid-January. The settlement will compensate thousands of individuals, and in particular, children who were adversely affected by the lead-contaminated water.

Now, the plaintiffs claim, the agreement is at risk because of lawyer Fletcher’s ploy to “inject confusion” into the settlement. Reportedly, and just after the court granted preliminary settlement approval, Fletcher sent a plaintiff a package containing a template opt-out and objection letter addressed to the court, as well as an attorney representation agreement on law firm letterhead.

The plaintiffs contend that the letter misconstrues terms of the settlement and further, “is intended to chill participation in this proposed settlement by providing unsolicited opt-out and objection letters, discouraging putative class members and represented individuals from joining the proposed settlement.” The plaintiffs argue that by doing so, Fletcher violated the Rules of Professional Responsibility and contravened case law regarding appropriate limitations on communications with class members.

The motion asks the court to grant a temporary restraining order so that it may conduct a fact-finding hearing to determine whether a permanent order or other corrective action is needed. The filing also asks that Fletcher be required to report to whom he sent letters and who returned signed retention agreements.

Co-liaison counsel for the individual plaintiffs are Napoli Shkolnik PLLC and Levy Konigsberg, LLP. Co-lead interim class counsel are Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC and Pitt McGehee Palmer Bonanni & Rivers PC.