By Tom Travis
Flint residents can begin to register for a piece of the $641.25 million water crisis settlement (WCS). According to attorneys in the settlement, registration began Jan. 27 and ends March 29. Adults must opt-in by March 29 and all objections must be filed by March 29.
Who can register? – How to register?
Adults, property owners, business owners or a minor child exposed to Flint water between April 25, 2014 through Nov. 16, 2020. If you wish to file a claim you must register to be eligible. Minors may opt-in up until their nineteenth birthday but adults have only until March 29, 2021 to register.
One of three things will happen by March 29 for every adult person in the settlement:
1. Register (pursuing settlement funds)
2. Opt-out (pursue further legal action with your individual attorney)
3. Do nothing (automatically give up further legal claim to funds from the settling defendants)
One of three things will happen for each minor child by March 29 in the settlement:
1. Register (pursuing settlement funds)
2. Filing Notice of Non- Participation (parent/child representative elects to defer participation of child(ren) up to
3. Do nothing (minors retain rights up to age 19)
The attorneys noted that if you are registering for someone other than yourself (e.g., a minor child, legally incapacitated person, or deceased claimant), you will need to show legal authority to do so. You will need documents to show your relationship and your authority to make the claim on behalf of the other person.
Risks for “Opting-Out”
At a WCS town hall video conference on Thursday the attorneys warned there are risks of Opting-Out and pursuing your own legal case. They said that this action could require the following:
• Securing the services of a new attorney.
• Class Counsel cannot represent individuals who opt-out.
• Paying for legal services including expert witnesses.
• Meeting strict proofs required to win a court case.
• Waiting many more years for a trial date and final resolution of claims.
• Filing before time limits have expired (some might already have).
The attorneys added that before deciding to Opt-Out, you should consult with a knowledgeable attorney.
Flint office available for registration and legal questions concerning the water crisis settlement
An office available for the public is located at 1188 Robert T. Longway Blvd. in Flint (between the Holiday Inn by the old Farmer’s Market and the U.S. Post Office on Chavez Blvd.). The hours for service at the office are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
There will be staff and a supervisory attorney on-site. COVID protocols are in force. The attorneys noted if you do not have a mask on you will not be allowed to enter the building.
Claim period – after March 29
After March 29 the claim period begins and will last until Aug 26, 2021. During this time notices of approval of registration will be sent in April 2021. Those registrants approved will automatically receive a claim form.
U.S. Federal Judge Judith Levy will hold a fairness hearing on July 12, 2021. A fairness hearing is the court’s final opportunity to determine whether the proposed settlement is fair, reasonable, adequate, and not based on collusion. After this hearing Judge Levy will either grant or deny the settlement.
EVM reported on Judge Levy’s preliminary approval ruling of the settlement. The details of that ruling and the entire 72 page ruling can be read here.
Next town hall for the settlement
There will be another town hall to discuss the settlement at 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 25. Those interested can go to www.flintwaterjustice.com to register for the town hall. If anyone has questions on the settlement, the process or the town hall they can call 866-536-0717 or email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
FAQ, all settlement court documents, contact information and additional resources can be found at www.flintwaterjustice.com
EVM Managing Editor Tom Travis can be reached at email@example.com.