Flint residents file class action suits as water crisis continues

- The story of Flint's water crisis is getting more national attention, but this is something that the people of Flint have been dealing with for months. Now, they're taking their fight to all levels of government.

Three lawsuits were filed on Tuesday in Flint, targeting the federal government, the state, and the city as residents fight back. Flint, which switched from Detroit's water to water from the Flint River, has water tainted with lead. The damage is done as the pipes are now so contaminated, clean water can't pass through.

That decision is the basis for more legal action from people like Melissa Mays.

"I've been off work because I'm so sick so here I am stuck with no paycheck and an $880 water bill," Mays said after the almost $900 bill, she got a shut off notice.

The mom, wife, and now-activist is a plaintiff in a class action lawsuit. This case comes at the same time as  attorneys file an emergency injunction to do two things: 1) stop shutoffs for failure to pay and 2) declare all water bills invalid.

"The State of Michigan should re-pay the people of Flint for the water bills they have paid for this lousy no good water," attorney Bill Goodman said.

Three class action lawsuits have no been filed against public officials involved, including Governor Rick Snyder. The people want to know what Snyder knew and when he knew he it and they believe it was long before October 2015, as he has claimed.

"He has to answer questions once a lawsuit's been filed, we're going to get those emails," Goodman said.

"How could he not know what was going on in Flint? He's going to sit in that deposition and he's going to answer those questions," attorney Michael Pitt said. "He is going to be held accountable one way or another."

The corrosive water from the Flint River leached lead out of the pipes. The water was supposed to be treated by the Department of Environmental Quality. When Flint switched back to Detroit water, the damage was done and the pipes were no good, tainting the clean water as well. Now residents are paying the price.

"Rashes, they're talking about hair loss, they're talking about seizures that never happened before," attorney Cary McGehee said.

People have already lost their jobs at MDEQ, but attorneys in this class action lawsuit say the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services knew about the spike in lead levels in the blood of Flint's children as early as June, July, August, and September of 2014.

"They were staring at a public health emergency and they sat on it for over ten months," Pitt said. "These public officials were assuring the public the water was safe at a time when they knew it was not true. I don't know how many kids were poisoned because of those false assurances - but we're going to find out."

The lawsuits also seek to represent those victims of legionnaire's disease possibly brought on by the Flint water crisis. Troy Kidd's mother, Debbie, died in August at the age of 58. The cause of death? Legionnaire's disease.

"Fought as hard as they could to get her lungs to clear up with antibiotics and everything else and it was to no avail," Kidd said.

Attorneys are calling on Attorney General Bill Schuette to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the state since he will have to defend Michigan in these lawsuits.

Attorneys are advising residents to contact them to be part of the lawsuit. Call their office at (248) 398-9800 or go to flintwaterclassaction.com They'll also be holding another meeting on February 16 from 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. at 432 N Saginaw at the UofM Flint Campus.

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