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Federal court allows Flint lead lawsuit to proceed

Jul 8, 2016

A lawsuit asking Flint to remove lead service lines free of charge for all of its water customers may proceed, according to a U.S. District Court ruling. The suit was filed by the Natural Resources Defense Council, the ACLU of Michigan, Concerned Pastors for Social Action, and Flint resident Melissa Mays. 

U.S. District Court Judge David Lawson rejected an argument by the state of Michigan and the city of Flint that the lawsuit should be dismissed because it interferes with the EPA's authority to enforce the Safe Drinking Water Act. However, according to Michael J. Steinberg, legal director for the ACLU of Michigan, citizens may file a lawsuit as long as the EPA has not filed a suit of its own.

"The EPA waited far too long to step in to do anything about Flint. The citizens of Flint are right not to trust the EPA in this situation and it's necessary for the citizens to bring their own lawsuit. That's what we've done and we'll continue to work as hard as we can to get safe drinking water supply to Flint," says Steinberg.

In addition to asking for removal of lead service lines, the plaintiffs are asking for an injunction requiring the city to deliver bottled drinking water to all residents. That's because support is not available for all Flint residents to correctly install and filters, and some residents have had difficulties with them.