Michigan reaches over $500M settlement in Flint water crisis suits

The state of Michigan has reached a more than $500 million settlement that would put to rest lawsuits arising out of the Flint water crisis, two sources with knowledge of the agreement confirmed Wednesday. 

The sources weren’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter, which is a significant development in a years-long legal fight that’s garnered national attention.

Details about the settlement arising out of the Flint lead-contaminated water crisis are expected to be spelled out Friday. The deal comes after several years of litigation in which Flint residents pursued damages from the state for the lead-contaminated water piped into many households.

The settlement would be one of the largest in the state’s history.

Marc Edwards, the Virginia Tech professor and water expert who tested city water at Flint households and helped expose the lead contamination, responded quickly to the news of a settlement. 

“If money is how government expresses sorrow for its crimes — this is a big apology,” Edwards said.

Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley was not part of the settlement discussions, but he said Wednesday that he is “anxiously awaiting closure.”

“We’re just staying positive and moving our community forward in a positive direction,” said Neeley, who was a city councilman during the water source switch to the highly corrosive Flint River in 2014.

Flint Councilman Eric Mays called the settlement a “good start.” 

“I always believed we would be somewhat successful in the civil lawsuits,” Mays said Wednesday. “I will hold my breath and wait till Friday.

“I believe a major portion of that (money) will go towards kids 5, 6 years old in that age group,” added the councilman, who is a member of the class-action civil lawsuit. “I will be waiting to see what the attorney fee portion might be out of that.”

Ryan Jarvi, a spokesman for Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, declined to provide details or confirm a settlement had been reached Wednesday night.

Nessel’s office and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s office have been engaged in ongoing mediation effort in Flint water cases for more than 18 months, Jarvi said.

“We and the other parties are bound by a federal court order to maintain the confidentiality of detailed settlement and mediation communications until we reach a certain point,” Jarvi said. “We have not yet reached the point where we can discuss a potential settlement.”

Nessel said last year that she was in discussions regarding the negotiations with Whitmer and…

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