Former Gov. Rick Snyder now Defendant in Flint Water Case

On April 2, 2019, U.S. District Judge Judith E. Levy issued the decision in the consolidated Flint water litigation known as Carthan et al v. Snyder et al. The decision now permits the litigation to go forward against former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder. In a shocking turn of events after previously removing Snyder from the suit last year brought by city residents harmed by the poisoning of the municipal water supply, Judge Levy now agrees with plaintiffs allegations of “conscience shocking” conduct were “plausible” and reinstated former Governor Rick Snyder as a defendant in a class action lawsuit by the victims of the City of Flint Michigan’s now notorious water scandal.

The 128-page decision states: “Plaintiffs, residents and property owners in Flint, Michigan, were exposed to lead, legionella, and other contaminants within the municipal water supply.

They allege that defendants, a collection of government officials and private parties, caused or prolonged this exposure, injuring them and damaging their property.” Upon receiving notice of the judge’s decision, Theodore J. Leopold, the plaintiffs’ attorney stated: “The citizens of Flint were both forgotten and mistreated by those involved in the Flint water disaster.

To this day, residents continue to suffer because of the reckless decisions of senior state and local officials, as well as private contractors, and we hope to provide a measure of justice and some much-needed relief to those still struggling to recover.” In a statement released by the plaintiff’s legal team, Snyder and his administration had knowledge for months of the health risks the city’s transition to Flint River water would bring, including the risk of Legionnaires’ disease, before an official announcement was made and they concealed this information from the public.

Snyder’s attorneys issued no statement. Known on Twitter as @ Governor_Nerd and Instagram as @onetoughnerd, Snyder has gone silent on all platforms and has not provided any response to Judge Levy’s decision that states in part: if [Governor Snyder] had not covered up what he knew: “that could have helped abate the harm that they [plaintiffs] were still suffering.” “It is reasonable to infer that the rationale for the delay was in part because the Governor wanted to act as if the issue was resolved. But by downplaying the continuing risk of harm, the Governor undermined efforts to enact protective measures. And as with his initial form of indifference, this led to plaintiffs involuntarily ingesting lead and other contaminants, violating their bodily integrity.

These two ways of showing indifference represent a continuum of actions, more powerful combined than when viewed in isolation. They depict indifference in the form of deception, from the Governor’s unwillingness to admit the crisis, to his downplaying of its severity once it became public knowledge. Viewed as a whole, the allegations plausibly describe “conscience shocking” conduct. Governor Snyder’s actions were deliberately indifference and exhibited a callous disregard for plaintiffs’ right to bodily integrity.” “Rather than moving swiftly to protect the children and families of Flint, the state engaged in a cover-up which tragically led to preventable injuries and deaths of innocent Flint residents.” Michael L. Pitt, the other co-lead in the case offered on behalf of the plaintiffs, “Those responsible for creating and prolonging the Flint Water crisis will be held accountable.” It is estimated that Flint needs $167 million to fix the water problems. After three years, Flint still doesn’t have clean drinking water. The question remains: Why isn’t this a national emergency?

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