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State, city seek dismissal of Flint water lawsuit

Mar 8, 2016

The state of Michigan and city of Flint are asking a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit connected to Flint’s drinking water crisis.

Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Natural Resources Defense Council filed the suit in January alleging violations of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). The suit is not seeking monetary damages, but an order to remove all lead service lines, as well as provide medical treatment for people exposed to lead tainted drinking water.

Attorneys for the government say the lawsuit should be dismissed for a lack of legal jurisdiction and other issues.

According to the brief filed by attorneys for the state of Michigan, “This Court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction over the claims against the State Defendants, because they seek relief for past violations of the SDWA and are thus barred by the Eleventh Amendment.   State attorneys also argue “the State Defendants are neither “owner[s]” nor “operator[s]” of a public water system under the SDWA.”

The city of Flint’s brief asks the federal judge to dismiss the NRDC suit “without prejudice for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, or alternatively with prejudice for failure to state a claim on which relief can be granted.”

The NRDC’s Henry Henderson hopes the judge will quickly act on the dismissal requests. 

“The water remains too dangerous for Flint residents to drink, cook in or bathe in….it’s a scandal,” says Henderson.

There are also a handful of potential class action lawsuits seeking monetary damages tied to the Flint water crisis.