By Tom Travis
“Flint, tell Judge Levy to change the guidelines for compensation in the water settlement. All citizens should be compensated,” read a statement offered by concerned citizens, pastors, community leaders and Flint water warriors. The group gathered Monday at Flint’s water plant on Dort Highway.
The statement, read by Pastor John McClane of Greater Destiny Ministries, will be delivered to Federal Judge Judith Levy of the Eastern District of Michigan voicing the group’s concerns with the compensation levels of the $641 million Flint water crisis settlement.
In addition to the reading of the statement, leaders of the event also announced a protest of the water crisis settlement compensation guidelines scheduled for 1 to 3 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 14 at the U.S. Federal Courthouse at 200 E. Liberty St, Ann Arbor.
On Friday, Jan. 15 Judge Levy will rule on preliminary approval for the Flint water crisis settlement. After Judge Levy’s ruling, residents will then be able to register for claims in the $641 million settlement.
The statement reads in part,
“We are gravely concerned that the proposed allocation of settlement proceeds are egregiously unfair to the vast majority of citizens in Flint, as it will direct the bulk of the 641 million dollar settlement to a comparatively few recipients of bone lead testing.
“This testing has been largely UNAVAILABLE to the vast majority of the citizens of Flint, and their children – people who need it the most. The access to this testing has been ‘hoarded’ by just two law firms. The ramifications or this lack of access to this critical testing means that many needy deserving children – and adults – will be deprived much-deserved compensation.”
MLive reported in an October, 2020 article about bone lead testing quoting Perri Zeitz Ruckart, health scientist, for Lead Poisoning Prevention and Surveillance Branch, National Center for Environmental Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Lead is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream. The half-life (time it takes for the amount to decline by 50 percent) of lead in blood is 30 days; some of the absorbed lead is excreted in urine, sweat, and feces. However, some of the absorbed lead is stored in other body tissues, mostly in bone. A person’s ‘body burden’ of lead is the total amount of lead that has accumulated from exposure over time and is stored in the body.”
Water Crisis Settlement announced in August 2020
In August the State of Michigan announced the Flint water crisis settlement would be paid out as follows: 80 per cent of the $641 million payout directed towards minors under age 18. Fifteen percent will go towards adults, three per cent will go to those who suffered property damage, five percent will go to those who suffered economic loss, and two per cent will go towards programmatic relief programs.
The statement also addresses concerns over “the exorbitant utility rates for unusable water that Flint citizens were expected to pay during the Water Crisis” in addition other costs may have been incurred due to “tainted water” that damage appliances, water filtration systems, replacement of pipes, loss of rents for landlords and cost of bottled water among other things.
“Unprecedented hurdles…to jump over are harsh.”
The statement further explained that, “the unprecedented hurdles that the plaintiffs have to jump over are harsh, as these burdens of proof are not required under any other reasonable setting – it’s as if these requirement are designed to protect the interests of the powerful, and place an oppressive burden of proof upon the innocent – the defenseless children & their parents – both of whom were unwittingly subjected to this catastrophic municipal poisoning allowed by neglectful city and state officials.”
Flint resident Stacy Jones stood beside the group gathered for the press conference holding a rod with two baskets on each end. One basket held two oranges and the basket held two apples. Jones explained, “This is the scales of justice. It’s apples and oranges compared to what they’ve been doing in cases like this. I came out to ask Judge Levy to revisit the settlement. It’s an unjust settlement.”
Jones, a 5th Ward resident, said she has six children and worked and volunteered in the Flint community for more than 30 years and plans on attending the Thursday protest in Ann Arbor.
On Dec. 21 the City Council approved $20 million from the City’s insurance company to be added to the $621 million settlement bringing it to $641 million. The council vote was required on the $20 million portion because it is being offered from the City’s insurance company and the City of Flint is named as a defendant in the settlement case.
Additional amounts added to the settlement include: $20 million from McLaren Medical Center, and $1.25 million from Rowe Professional Services who provided the city’s engineering services between 2002 and 2016. McLaren executives deny claims that they were a source of the outbreak of Legionnaires disease which sickened 90 and took at least 11 lives in 2014 and 2015 and was linked by some sources to the tainted Flint water.
Managing Editor Tom Travis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.