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
Case Summary
On April 6, 2016, fifteen residents of Flint, Michigan filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. The plaintiffs sued Governor Rick Snyder, his chief of staff Dennis Muchmore, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), several other government ... read more >
On April 6, 2016, fifteen residents of Flint, Michigan filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. The plaintiffs sued Governor Rick Snyder, his chief of staff Dennis Muchmore, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), several other government agencies, the City of Flint, and three corporations under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and state law. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, alleged that their Fourteenth Amendment Due Process and Equal Protection rights were violated when Flint’s water contained high levels of lead.

The City of Flint had been purchasing water from the high quality Detroit Water and Sewer Department (DSWD) for roughly half a century. But then, led by an Emergency Manager, the city 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 (“KWA”), 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 price gauging the residents of Flint. Specifically, the plaintiffs claimed that this deprived them of both contractually guaranteed property and bodily integrity, in violation of their substantive due process rights.

Further, the plaintiffs alleged that their Fourteenth Amendment right to Equal Protection was violated because the switch from the Detroit Water and Sewer Department (DSWD) 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 DSWD 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 filed in Ann Arbor District Court (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, to which the defendants responded arguing that the plaintiffs' claim was barred as to Defendant Kurtz by governmental immunity and that the plaintiffs failed to state a claim.

On October 6, 2016, the defendants, the State of Michigan, Governor Snyder, 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 in different District Courts had recently been decided and were consolidated on appeal in the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit: Mays v. Snyder and Boler v. Earley. 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, Washington v. Snyder, were denied without prejudice.

Lori Interlicchio - 02/12/2017
Mackenzie Walz - 03/27/2018

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Equal Protection
Hospital/Health Department
Sanitation/Public Works
Race discrimination
Disparate Impact
Government Services (specify)
Neglect by staff
Records Disclosure
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
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 granted Unknown
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Filing Year 2016
Case Ongoing No
Case Listing PB-MI-0014 : Waid v. Snyder (E.D. Mich.)
5:16-cv-11247 (E.D. Mich.)
PB-MI-0012-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/28/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
PB-MI-0012-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/06/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Second Amended Complaint [ECF# 33]
PB-MI-0012-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/12/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
State Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Under Fed. R. Civ. Proc. 12(b)(1) & (6) [ECF# 67]
PB-MI-0012-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/06/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Individual City Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs' Second Amended Complaint [ECF# 73]
PB-MI-0012-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/13/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Stipulated Order Granting a Suspension of Time to File Responsive Pleadings Until Plaintiffs' Motion to Compel is Resolved [ECF# 131] (E.D. Mich.)
PB-MI-0012-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/18/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
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] (E.D. Mich.)
PB-MI-0012-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/27/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Levy, Judith Ellen (E.D. Mich.)
PB-MI-0012-0006 | PB-MI-0012-9000
Majzoub, Mona K. (E.D. Mich.) [Magistrate]
O'Meara, John Corbett (E.D. Mich.)
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bern, Marc J. (New York)
PB-MI-0012-0001 | PB-MI-0012-0002 | PB-MI-0012-9000
Kern, Chet W. (New York)
PB-MI-0012-0001 | PB-MI-0012-0002 | PB-MI-0012-0005 | PB-MI-0012-9000
Kresch, Ari (Michigan)
PB-MI-0012-0001 | PB-MI-0012-0002 | PB-MI-0012-9000
Radner, Solomon M. (Michigan)
PB-MI-0012-0001 | PB-MI-0012-0002 | PB-MI-0012-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Barbieri, Charles E. (Michigan)
Berg, Frederick A. (Michigan)
Berger, Jay M. (Michigan)
Bettenhausen, Margaret A. (Michigan)
PB-MI-0012-0003 | PB-MI-0012-9000
Bolton, Jordan S. (Michigan)
Branch, Nikkiya (Michigan)
Bush, Cheryl A. (Michigan)
Cafferty, Michael S. (Michigan)
Campbell, James M. (Massachusetts)
Chartier- Mittendorf, Mary (Michigan)
PB-MI-0012-0005 | PB-MI-0012-9000
Ciullo, Courtney B. (Michigan)
Driker, Eugene (Michigan)
PB-MI-0012-0003 | PB-MI-0012-9000
Egan, Dennis K. (Michigan)
Erickson, Phillip (Michigan)
Eriksson, Reed E. (Michigan)
Gambill, Nathan A. (Michigan)
PB-MI-0012-0003 | PB-MI-0012-9000
Gildner, Michael J. (Michigan)
Grashoff, Philip J. Jr. (Michigan)
Grunert, John A.K. (Massachusetts)
Jackson, Krista A. (Michigan)
Kamenec, Robert G. (Michigan)
Kent, David C. (Texas)
Kent, David L. (Connecticut)
Kim, William Young (Michigan)
PB-MI-0012-0004 | PB-MI-0012-9000
Klein, Sheldon H. (Michigan)
Kuhl, Richard S. (Michigan)
PB-MI-0012-0003 | PB-MI-0012-9000
Larsen, Zachary C. (Michigan)
PB-MI-0012-0003 | PB-MI-0012-9000
Mendel, Todd R. (Michigan)
PB-MI-0012-0003 | PB-MI-0012-9000
Meyer, Brett T. (Michigan)
Morgan, Thaddeus E. (Michigan)
Oakes, Stacy Erwin (Michigan)
Pattwell, Michael J. (Michigan)
Perkins, Todd Russell (Michigan)
Perry, Michael H. (Michigan)
Richotte, Joseph E. (Michigan)
Rusek, Alexander S. (Michigan)
Thompson, Craig S. (Michigan)
Williams, Michael R. (Michigan)
Witus, Morley (Michigan)
PB-MI-0012-0003 | PB-MI-0012-9000
Wolf, Barry A. (Michigan)
Other Lawyers Levens, Emmy L. (District of Columbia)

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