Flint citizens panned Michigan’s massive $600 million water crisis settlement Thursday, with one person telling a reporter that she and other residents who suffered from the contamination of their drinking water will likely only get about $6,000.
The settlement is “disappointing,” and “not at all satisfactory,” Nayyirah Shariff, a Flint resident and director of the grassroots group Flint Rising, told the Detroit Free Press. Shariff argued that, based on her calculations, she and other citizens will probably only get a tiny fraction of the settlement if the entire city of Flint was impacted.
“I have seizures now, and because I’m an adult, I wouldn’t probably get even $6,000,” Shariff said. “Who knows what my long-term health issues are going to be?”
The average compensation for residents could be less than $6,000 since an undetermined amount of attorneys fees and legal costs will slash the total amount, according to the Detroit Free Press report Thursday. Contingency fees depend on the case, but they often amount to one-third of a settlement amount, the report noted.
Flint resident Nakiya Wakes expressed similar sentiments. She told Detroit Free Press that she miscarried twins twice — once in 2015 and again in 2017 — since the crisis began. Her daughter, 21, and son, now 11 and on disability, have suffered as well, Wakes said. “It just seems like we should have gotten more,” she added before expressing gratitude for the settlement.
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Wakes added: “I still want to see everyone held accountable. I have lost four babies due to drinking this water.”
“Because the amount to be paid to each claimant will in part depend upon how many filed claims are verified, the precise amount to be paid to each claimant will not be known until the claims process is completed,” the Detroit Free Press reported noted, citing a summary of the settlement provided by Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office.
“This settlement focuses on the children and the future of Flint, and the state will do all it can to make this a step forward in the healing process for one of Michigan’s most resilient cities,” Nessel, a Democrat, told the Detroit Free Press.
Michigan’s settlement established a court-monitored compensation fund designed to pay Flint residents, CNN reported Thursday. More than 80% of the settlement will be paid to residents who were younger than 18 at the time of the crisis, which began in 2014 when Flint switched its water supply from Lake Huron to the Flint River without applying adequate treatment measures.
The move was designed to cut costs, media reports show.
“The residents of Flint were victims of horrendous decisions by the state, its employees, and other defendants that have resulted in tragic and devastating consequences,” Florida attorney Ted Leopold, who was appointed by a federal judge, told the Detroit Free Press. Royal Oak attorney Michael Pitt joined Leopold to lead class-action litigation that combined scores of individual lawsuits.
Ongoing lawsuits will continue against other defendants, including the Environmental Protection Agency and environmental consultant Veolia North America, which advised the city of Flint on water quality issues. Engineering firm Lockwood, Andrews & Newman is also facing litigation for not properly preparing the Flint Water Treatment Plant to treat water from the Flint River, CNN reported.
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