In late 2015 and early 2016, a public health crisis involving contaminated drinking water in Flint, Michigan, came to light. This horrible tragedy involves Flint residents’ exposure to toxic levels of lead in their drinking water over a prolonged period of time as well as a spike in Legionellosis after the city changed its primary water source to the Flint River in April 2014. The change was made as a cost-cutting measure while Flint was under the control of an emergency manager.
Civil litigation is a powerful tool that may be used to redress public health harms and it is currently being wielded by many private Flint citizens, advocacy organizations, and city and state officials. Indeed, dozens of civil lawsuits (as well as criminal charges) have been filed in state and federal courts against government officials and agencies involved in events leading to the water crisis.
This table summarizes legal theories underlying a number of civil lawsuits and other actions arising from the Flint water crisis. The table is not comprehensive but provides an overview of many key legal issues. In addition, please note this table reflects lawsuits as filed; amended pleadings and motions may have resulted in changes to parties and/or claims since the lawsuits were filed.