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Flint water crisis prompts litigation over excessive lead exposure

We have previously written on this blog about the Flint water crisis, noting the shakeup in the local government over the debacle. We also mentioned that the investigations that began in response to the incident, including an investigation by the EPA. In addition to the legal action that has already been taken, a lawsuit was recently filed in a federal court in Detroit seeking damages for Flint resident and property owners who have suffered both physical and economic injuries.

The plaintiffs named in the lawsuit include seven residents and a total of 17 children who were found to have increased levels of lead in their bodies as a result of the coverup. The lawsuit alleges that the defendants are guilty of gross negligence, which would give them the right to sue under state law. Immunity does not apply in cases of gross negligence. In the suit, the plaintiffs seek damages for both past and future health care costs, among other things. 

Lead can be detrimental to all who are exposed to it, but especially to children, in whom even small amount can lead to permanent problems impacting development, learning and behavior. For plaintiffs in lead poisoning cases, the future impact of lead poisoning can be difficult to determine. As recent Scientific American article pointed out, there may be ways to mitigate the negative effects of lead poisoning, but mitigation is more difficult in poor communities than in rich ones, so the poor will be at a disadvantage.

Those who have been harmed by any toxic exposure have the right to seek damages from liable parties. Working with an experienced legal advocate is important, though, to ensure that one’s rights and interests receive zealous advocacy.


Reuters, “Lawsuit over Flint, Michigan, crisis says 17 children have high lead levels,” David Bailey, Mar. 7, 2016.

Scientific American, “Flint’s lead-tainted water may not cause permanent brain damage,” Ellen Ruppel Shell, Mar. 22, 2016. 

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