After five years of lawsuits and 18 months of court-supervised negotiations, a federal judge last Wednesday gave final approval to a $ 626 million settlement to compensate victims of the Flint (Michigan) water crisis. The people of that northern Detroit city have experienced the greatest public health crisis known in American history. Mostly black citizens, city residents have not had safe drinking water since 2014, coinciding with the authorities’ decision to start using water from the Flint River as a savings measure.
Likewise, the absence of a correct treatment of the corrosive waters caused the presence of metals (lead) coming from the old pipes and, therefore, the aquifer contamination. In early 2016, the situation for families, hospitals and schools was so tragic that then-President Barack Obama was forced to declare a state of emergency at the federal level.
Since then, the lives of Flint residents have been hell where they have had to drink and wash with bottled water, in addition to suffering from illnesses caused by the toxicity of the water. In a 178-page document, Judge Judith Levy described the settlement as “a remarkable achievement for many reasons, one of which is that it establishes a comprehensive compensation program.”
— Former Mayor, Dr. Karen Williams Weaver (@karenaboutflint) November 11, 2021
The settlement makes money available to Flint children who were exposed to water, adults who can prove an injury, certain business owners and anyone who has paid bills for purportedly potable water. It is estimated that approximately 80% of what is left after legal fees will go to minors.
However, for former Flint mayor Karen Weaver the agreement is more than open to criticism. “The amount awarded by the judge does not even remotely reflect the value of Flint’s lives! This is a slap in the face to the residents of this city! ”, He affirmed in his Twitter account.
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Up to 8,000 children under the age of five who have resided in Flint could suffer permanent brain damage due to the high level of lead in the city’s water. Flint has about 100,000 residents, the vast majority of whom are poor. What happened in Flint was not due to a natural disaster, but to a conscious decision to supply water to homes in the city from a cheaper but contaminated source. So much so that even the general pipes corroded when the water passed.
About 600 million dollars of the total of 626 will be paid by the State of Michigan and other defendants related to government agencies, making the resolution become “one of the largest agreements ever reached in the history of Michigan,” wrote the magistrate. Levy. The remainder will be divided between the City of Flint and companies associated with it with a direct relationship to the crisis.
The one who did enter into the settlement was the plaintiffs’ attorney, Trachelle Young: “Today is a day in which justice has been served for the residents of Flint. It is truly an achievement, because we as a community stood up. We, as community activists, as pastors and ministers for justice, as residents and committed citizens, as fathers and mothers, joined forces and said that we were not going to sit idly by and allow ourselves to be treated as if we did not matter at all ” .
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