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Case Name Waid v. Snyder PB-MI-0014
Docket / Court 5:16-cv-10444-JEL-MKM ( E.D. Mich. )
State/Territory Michigan
Case Type(s) Public Benefits / Government Services
Case Summary
On February 8, 2016, a group of Flint, Michigan residents filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan against Michigan’s Governor Rick Snyder, the State of Michigan as the operator of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), the Mayor of Flint, ... read more >
On February 8, 2016, a group of Flint, Michigan residents filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan against Michigan’s Governor Rick Snyder, the State of Michigan as the operator of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), the Mayor of Flint, the Emergency Financial Managers of Flint, the City of Flint, and several individuals in their official capacity as employees of government departments under 42 U.S.C. §1983 and state law. The plaintiffs made several legal claims, including violations of the Safe Drinking Water Act and Due Process.

For several years, the City of Flint purchased treated drinking water from the Detroit Water and Sewage Department (DWSD), but in 2014 the City switched its drinking water source to the Flint River. The plaintiffs alleged that the defendants' knew of the corrosive elements in the Flint River water and made the transfer in spite of this knowledge. As a result, the defendants knowingly exposed the plaintiffs to lead and other toxic substances from which they have sustained long-term physical and mental injuries. Represented by private counsel, the plaintiffs sought monetary damages and injunctive and declaratory relief.

On February 11th, the case was reassigned from District Judge Matthew Leitman in Detroit, to District Judge John Corbett O’Meara and Magistrate Judge Mona Majzoub in Ann Arbor.

Given the magnitude of the Flint Water Crisis, other individuals had filed similar claims in various District Court's throughout the State of Michigan. On April 12, 2016, the plaintiffs in this case, along with the plaintiffs in Gilcreast et al. v Lockwood, Andrews & Newman, P.C. filed a motion to consolidate actions in Mays, et al. v Snyder, et al.

Six government employees listed as defendants in this case, as well as the City of Flint, filed a motion to dismiss the case on August 22, 2016. A few weeks later, on September 12, the plaintiffs filed an amended complaint and the defendants filed a new motion to dismiss in light of these amendments on October 7th.

Several of the defendants being sued in their official capacity as employees of MDEQ filed a motion to change venue on October 27, 2016. These defendants argued that the local media attention over this issue was overwhelming and the adverse coverage would make it nearly impossible to find a fair and impartial jury. Presenting evidence on the quantity and content of the publicity and the effect the publicity was having on the Michigan public, the defendants requested the Judge to transfer the case to an out-of-state metropolitan venue. In the alternative, the defendants requested a transfer to a less prejudicial venue in Michigan, such as the Northern Division of the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan.

On November 3, 2016, Judge O’Meara filed a stipulation and order of partial dismissal of the plaintiff’s amended complaint as to the MDEQ employees. Those individuals were officially dismissed from the case.

On December 1, 2016, the plaintiffs filed a response to the defendants’ motion to change venue, arguing their motion was meritless. The plaintiffs argued that the defendants ignored seven of the eight factors relevant to a transfer, and that the defendants’ motion was premature. A jury trial likely would not occur for months, if not years. But, even if the trial were to occur sooner, the plaintiffs argued the motion was still meritless because the defendants’ evidence demonstrated that there were nearly a million jurors who remained unbiased from the media coverage.

Several motions to dismiss were filed by different combinations of defendants throughout the litigation. On February 7, 2017, Judge O’Meara, following the Court’s rationale in a virtually identical case, McMillian v Snyder, granted the defendants’ pending motions to dismiss. The Judge found that the plaintiffs’ claims under 42 U.S.C. §1983 were precluded by the Safe Drinking Water Act, the plaintiffs’ Safe Drinking Water Act claims were barred by the plaintiffs' failure to provide adequate notice under the statute, and, given the lack of viable federal claims, the court refused to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the state law claims. Therefore, the plaintiffs’ complaint was dismissed in its entirety and judgment was entered in favor of the defendants. However, a motion to amend or alter the judgment was filed by Veolia North America Operating Services, LLC, Veolia North America, Inc., and Veolia North America, LLC a month later on March 7, 2017. Judge O’Meara granted this motion on May 3rd.

An order of disqualification was filed on May 12, 2017 and the case was reassigned from Judge O’Meara in Ann Arbor to District Judge Paul D. Borman in Detroit. But, two days later an order of recusal was filed and the case was once again reassigned, this time to District Judge Judith E. Levy on May 15th. After this final reassignment several defendants refiled their motions to dismiss.

On June 9, 2017, the plaintiffs in this case filed a joint motion to consolidate the other ten pending class action cases related to the Flint Water Crisis. There were also 50 individual actions pertaining to the Flint Water Crisis currently pending in the Southern Division of the Eastern District of Michigan at that time. Although the plaintiffs did not seek to have these individual claims consolidated with the class actions, they did advocate for it, arguing it would be in the best interests of all parties to streamline discovery and minimize duplication of effort.

Judge Levy granted the motion to consolidate the following cases on July 27, 2017: Case Nos. 16-cv-10796, 16-cv-11173, 16-cv-11247, 16-cv-12875, 16-cv-14498, 17-cv-10343, 17-cv-10360, and 17-cv-10799. Several defendants filed a motion for reconsideration of this order on August 10th. But, Judge Levy upheld the order for consolidation on August 14th.

After the other cases were closed and consolidated with this case, on September 29th all of the plaintiffs filed an amended complaint against all current defendants.

On October 25, 2017, Judge Levy, ordered the consolidation of two additional cases- 16-10444 and 17-10941. After these parties were added the consolidated class of plaintiffs filed another amended complaint on September 27th.

On December 1, 2017, several defendants filed separate motions to dismiss the amended complaint. As of April 8, 2018, this case is ongoing.

Mackenzie Walz - 04/01/2018


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Defendant-type
Hospital/Health Department
Jurisdiction-wide
Sanitation/Public Works
General
Government Services (specify)
Public benefits (includes, e.g., in-state tuition, govt. jobs)
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
State law
Defendant(s) City of Flint
Director of Michigan Department of Environmental Quality
Emergency Financial Manager
Governor Snyder
Mayor of Flint
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality
Plaintiff Description Several residents of the City of Flint.
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Unknown
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Case Ongoing Yes
Docket(s)
No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
No documents currently in the collection

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