Environmental Law

Class action filed on behalf of Flint residents claims EPA negligence in water probe

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A class action lawsuit filed on behalf of 1,700 residents and property owners in Flint, Michigan, claims the Environmental Protection Agency mishandled the Flint water crisis.

The negligence suit seeks more than $700 million in damages, report MLive.com, Courthouse News Service and the Detroit News.

Name plaintiff Jan Burgess says in the suit that she asked the EPA to investigate Flint’s tap water in October 2014, but the agency failed to take mandatory steps to determine whether local authorities were protecting the public from toxic water.

It wasn’t until January 2016, Burgess says, that the EPA filed an emergency action to protect the public. Nor did the EPA issue an order or file a civil action to make sure the water providers complied with the Safe Water Drinking Act, the suit says.

Flint’s water became contaminated with lead after the city switched its water source to the “highly corrosive, polluted and toxic Flint River,” the suit says. The water was not treated to inhibit corrosion, and as a result, lead leached from pipes.

Burgess says she is entitled to file suit because the EPA has not acted on her administrative claim. Her suit alleges negligent failure to take required statutory action, negligent performance of an investigation, and negligent undertaking of the duty to warn the public.

Related article:

ABA Journal: “Who’s to blame for poisoning of Flint’s water?”

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