University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Washington v. Snyder PB-MI-0012
Docket / Court 5:16-cv-11247 ( E.D. Mich. )
State/Territory Michigan
Case Type(s) Public Benefits / Government Services
Special Collection Flint Water Cases
Case Summary
This case arose from the Flint water crisis, a public health emergency in which the city of Flint, Michigan supplied water that contained elevated levels of lead to the public. On April 6, 2016, fifteen residents of Flint, Michigan filed this class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the ... read more >
This case arose from the Flint water crisis, a public health emergency in which the city of Flint, Michigan supplied water that contained elevated levels of lead to the public. On April 6, 2016, fifteen residents of Flint, Michigan filed this class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. The plaintiffs sued the Governor of Michigan, his chief of staff, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), several other government agencies, the City of Flint, and three corporations under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) (18 U.S.C § 1964), and state law. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, alleged that defendants’ involvement in the supply of lead-contaminated drinking water violated their Fourteenth Amendment Due Process and Equal Protection rights, RICO, and state law.

Flint had purchased water from the high quality Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) for roughly half a century before the crisis. But in 2014, led by an Emergency Manager, Flint switched its water source to the Flint River as a way to address the city’s financial problems. The plaintiffs alleged that, because the Flint River was only a temporary solution until the City could be connected to the Karegnondi Water Authority, the state knew that the Flint River was low quality even before connecting the City to the source. The plaintiffs claimed that by continuing to charge the residents of Flint the same amount for water despite the significantly lower quality, the defendants were fraudulently engaged in a RICO scheme by selling unsafe water. Specifically, the plaintiffs claimed that this deprived them of both contractually guaranteed property and bodily integrity rights protected under a substantive due process framework.

Further, the plaintiffs alleged that their Fourteenth Amendment right to Equal Protection was violated because the switch from the DWSD to the Flint River was motivated by racism. The plaintiffs’ evidence of racial discrimination was the fact that, of the six municipalities that bought water from DWSD through which the Flint River flowed, only the predominantly Black City of Flint was switched to the Flint River source.

Because this case appeared to be a companion case to Mays v. Snyder (Case No. 15-14002), on April 20, 2016, this case was reassigned to District Judge John Corbertt O’Meara and Magistrate Judge Mona K. Majzoub in Ann Arbor.

On June 30, 2016, the plaintiffs filed an amended complaint, adding a jury demand and several additional defendants in their official capacities at all times relevant to the complaint, some of which included the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), the former treasurer of the State of Michigan, all four emergency managers assigned to the city of Flint, the elected mayor of the City of Flint, and the directors and managers of several city and state health programs and water treatment plants. Another amended complaint was filed by the plaintiffs on August 12, 2016.

On October 6, 2016, the State of Michigan, the Governor, MDEQ, MDHHS, and several individual government employees being sued in their official capacity filed a motion to dismiss. Another group of defendants—the Emergency Managers and City Officials of the City of Flint named in their official capacity as defendants in the suit—also filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiffs’ second amended complaint for similar reasoning as the other defendants. Additional motions to dismiss were filed on October 21st, 28th, and 31st. Although filed separately, all of the motions argued primarily the same reasons for dismissing the plaintiffs’ suit: the state defendants were entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity and the Court had already declared that the only federal remedy available for the plaintiffs’ grievances is the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Meanwhile, two cases with similar claims had recently been decided and were consolidated on appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit: Mays v. Snyder (Case No. 15-14002) and Boler v. Earley (Case No. 16-10323). On April 18, 2017, the parties in this case stipulated, and Judge John Corbett O’Meara granted, a stay on all aspects of this case, pending the consolidated appeals of these two cases.

On July 27, 2017, this case, along with seven other cases litigating the Flint Water Crisis, were consolidated with Waid v. Snyder, PB-MI-0014 in this Clearinghouse. All motions pending in this case were denied without prejudice. See the Clearinghouse record for Waid for all subsequent litigation.

Lori Interlicchio - 02/12/2017
Mackenzie Walz - 03/27/2018
Jack Hibbard - 05/26/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Due Process: Substantive Due Process
Equal Protection
Defendant-type
Hospital/Health Department
Sanitation/Public Works
Discrimination-basis
Race discrimination
General
Disparate Impact
Disparate Treatment
Government Services (specify)
Neglect by staff
Pattern or Practice
Public benefits (includes, e.g., in-state tuition, govt. jobs)
Records Disclosure
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Race
Black
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
State law
Defendant(s) City of Flint
State of Michigan
Plaintiff Description Residents of Flint, Michigan who allege injuries from the Flint water crisis.
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status outcome Pending
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Filed 04/06/2016
Case Ongoing Yes
Case Listing PB-MI-0014 : Waid v. Snyder (In re Flint Water Cases) (E.D. Mich.)
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
Court Docket(s)
E.D. Mich.
07/28/2017
5:16-cv-11247
PB-MI-0012-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
E.D. Mich.
04/06/2016
Complaint [ECF# 1]
PB-MI-0012-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Mich.
08/12/2016
Second Amended Complaint [ECF# 33]
PB-MI-0012-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Mich.
10/06/2016
State Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Under Fed. R. Civ. Proc. 12(b)(1) & (6) [ECF# 67]
PB-MI-0012-0003.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Mich.
10/13/2016
Individual City Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs' Second Amended Complaint [ECF# 73]
PB-MI-0012-0004.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Mich.
04/18/2017
Stipulated Order Granting a Suspension of Time to File Responsive Pleadings Until Plaintiffs' Motion to Compel is Resolved [ECF# 131]
PB-MI-0012-0005.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Mich.
07/27/2017
Order Granting in Part the WAID Motion for Consolidation of the Class Actions, Appointment of Interim Co-Lead Class Counsel, and Appointment of Liaison Counsel for the Individual Actions, Denying the Guertin Motion to Consolidate Cases [ECF# 142]
PB-MI-0012-0006.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
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Judges Levy, Judith Ellen (E.D. Mich.) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0012-0006 | PB-MI-0012-9000
Majzoub, Mona K. (E.D. Mich.) [Magistrate] show/hide docs
PB-MI-0012-9000
O'Meara, John Corbett (E.D. Mich.) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0012-0005
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bern, Marc J. (New York) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0012-0001 | PB-MI-0012-0002 | PB-MI-0012-9000
Kern, Chet W. (New York) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0012-0001 | PB-MI-0012-0002 | PB-MI-0012-0005 | PB-MI-0012-9000
Kresch, Ari (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0012-0001 | PB-MI-0012-0002 | PB-MI-0012-9000
Radner, Solomon M. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0012-0001 | PB-MI-0012-0002 | PB-MI-0012-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Barbieri, Charles E. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0012-9000
Berg, Frederick A. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0012-9000
Berger, Jay M. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0012-9000
Bettenhausen, Margaret A. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0012-0003 | PB-MI-0012-9000
Bolton, Jordan S. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0012-9000
Branch, Nikkiya (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0012-9000
Bush, Cheryl A. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0012-9000
Cafferty, Michael S. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0012-9000
Campbell, James M. (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0012-9000
Chartier- Mittendorf, Mary (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0012-0005 | PB-MI-0012-9000
Ciullo, Courtney B. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0012-9000
Driker, Eugene (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0012-0003 | PB-MI-0012-9000
Egan, Dennis K. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0012-9000
Erickson, Phillip (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0012-9000
Eriksson, Reed E. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0012-0004
Gambill, Nathan A. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0012-0003 | PB-MI-0012-9000
Gildner, Michael J. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0012-9000
Grashoff, Philip A. Jr. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0012-9000
Grunert, John A.K. (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0012-9000
Jackson, Krista A. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0012-9000
Kamenec, Robert G. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0012-9000
Kent, David L. (Connecticut) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0012-9000
Kent, David C. (Texas) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0012-9000
Kim, William Young (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0012-0004 | PB-MI-0012-9000
Klein, Sheldon H. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0012-9000
Kuhl, Richard S. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0012-0003 | PB-MI-0012-9000
Larsen, Zachary C. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0012-0003 | PB-MI-0012-9000
Mendel, Todd R. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0012-0003 | PB-MI-0012-9000
Meyer, Brett T. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0012-9000
Morgan, Thaddeus E. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0012-9000
Oakes, Stacy Erwin (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0012-9000
Pattwell, Michael J. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0012-9000
Perkins, Todd Russell (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0012-9000
Perry, Michael H. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0012-9000
Richotte, Joseph E. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0012-9000
Rusek, Alexander S. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0012-9000
Thompson, Craig S. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0012-9000
Williams, Michael R. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0012-9000
Witus, Morley (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0012-0003 | PB-MI-0012-9000
Wolf, Barry A. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0012-9000
Other Lawyers Levens, Emmy L. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0012-9000

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