FLINT, MI – A hearing has been scheduled to determine if the federal court should give preliminary approval to the $641.2 million settlement that will resolve civil litigation arising from when the city of Flint switched its public water supply to the Flint River in 2014.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced the preliminary settlement in August, with additional defendants having joined the settlement by the time it was submitted to the court for preliminary approval in November.
A remote public hearing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 21. Flint residents and the public can attend the hearing online by accessing the court’s website.
Select Monday’s hearing on the drop-down menu (Waid et al v. Snyder et al, case 16-10444) and fill out the form. Enter the two numbers in reverse order, check the box to acknowledge that you have read the information about the prohibitions against recording, photographing, or broadcasting court hearings, and click on “Submit.” The next screen will provide a link to click to watch the hearing.
Everyone must register separately. Depending upon other judicial matters, the hearing may not start promptly at 1:30 p.m.
Click on the link provided to contact the Public Access Team if you have questions or encounter difficulty.
For information about the proposed settlement, read “Plaintiffs’ Motion to Establish Settlement Claims Procedures and Allocation and for Preliminary Approval of Class Settlement Components.” Those documents and accompanying exhibits may be found on the U.S. District Court website.
“The public’s participation is part of the settlement process and I encourage Flint residents to attend the hearing on Monday,” Nessel said. “The State has made a concerted effort to reach this settlement with plaintiffs’ attorneys, with the guidance of court-appointed mediators. Countless hours of effort have gone into crafting this agreement, and while it may not be perfect, we continue to believe it is the best possible outcome for residents and the future of Flint.”
“I encourage Flint residents to learn about the settlement details, attend Monday’s hearing and participate as the settlement process moves forward,” said Governor Whitmer. “As I’ve said before, what happened in Flint should never have happened, and financial compensation with this settlement is just one important step forward in the long process of helping the city heal and making amends to the people of Flint who have faced so much uncertainty.”
The State announced a $600 million contribution to the settlement in August. Since then, McLaren Regional Medical Center has agreed to provide $20 million and Rowe Professional Services Co. is providing $1.25 million. The City of Flint has conditionally agreed to contribute $20 million, with money being provided through its insurer as opposed to its general fund or otherwise derived from taxpayers. However, the Flint City Council must still approve that contribution. Under the settlement agreement, the Council has until Dec. 31 to pass its resolution supporting the contribution.
The settlement agreement was submitted in November to Judge Judith Levy of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. The detailed terms of the settlement are contained in a 71-page document, with hundreds of additional pages of exhibits, and can be viewed online here.
As part of a motion for preliminary approval, Judge Levy is reviewing the settlement and has stated that she expects to issue a ruling on that motion by mid- to late January. If preliminary approval is granted, then the claim registration process can begin, allowing Flint residents the opportunity to indicate their intention to file a claim. Judge Levy will still have to schedule another hearing to determine if final approval should be given to the settlement, and it is anticipated that the public will be allowed to comment on the settlement prior to the entry of any final approval order.
For Judge Levy to grant preliminary approval, the court will have to consider whether the proposed settlement is fair, adequate and reasonable. Once preliminary approval is given, Flint residents will have 60 days to register to participate in the settlement program. Following the registration period, Flint residents that have registered will have 120 days to file the documents necessary to support their claims.
The claims process will be managed by a neutral court-appointed claims administrator and will take several months after the agreement receives final approval.
Additional details surrounding the settlement, including compensation categories, eligibility criteria, the claims process and more are available online.