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Case Name Mays v. Flint PB-MI-0016
Docket / Court 5:16-cv-11519 ( E.D. Mich. )
State/Territory Michigan
Case Type(s) Environmental Justice
Public Benefits / Government Services
Special Collection Flint Water Cases
Case Summary
This is a suit arising out of the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. Plaintiffs, who sought to represent a class of Flint water users, initially filed suit in Genesee County Court in Flint on January 19, 2016. They alleged tort claims of gross negligence, fraud, assault and battery, and intentional ... read more >
This is a suit arising out of the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. Plaintiffs, who sought to represent a class of Flint water users, initially filed suit in Genesee County Court in Flint on January 19, 2016. They alleged tort claims of gross negligence, fraud, assault and battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress by state officials over the course of the crisis. Plaintiffs were represented by private counsel. Specifically, they claimed that these state officials changed the City of Flint’s water supply to the Flint river despite substantial evidence that this water was toxic and hazardous and then continued to use the Flint river to supply water to the city despite mounting evidence of E. Coli and lead. Plaintiffs sought injunctive and declaratory relief.

Four defendants attempted to removed the case to Federal Court on April 27, 2016, where a parallel class-action suit (Mays v. Snyder) had been filed one year earlier. The four defendants were state-level employees of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality who played an important role in switching the source of Flint’s water source and in monitoring the Flint River water. The four employees contended that they were entitled to removal because they were acting as agents of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in enforcing the Safe Drinking Water act when they complied with an EPA emergency order concerning the water crisis.

Defendants had filed a motion to dismiss in Mays v. Snyder on April 4, 2016, which would summarily be granted less than a year later. Therefore, whether or not Defendants would successfully be able to have the case tried in federal court would have important implications as to whether the plaintiffs could hold them liable. If the defendants were successfully able to remove the case to federal court, the Snyder ruling would be, at the very least, strong precedent to dismiss these suits as well.

Plaintiffs subsequently filed for a motion to remand to State Court on May 11, 2016. This motion was granted on October 6, 2016. The court (Judge John Corbett O'Meara) found that state officials were not acting directly under the control of the federal government and so were state agents and not federal agents. Moreover, the court found that the plaintiffs alleged claims under state tort law, not as federal claims over which the federal courts had jurisdiction. However, the court did not award the plaintiffs attorney’s fees, finding that the defendants had reasonable basis for removal. 324 F.Supp.3d 918.

Defendants appealed and the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals (Circuit Judges Gilman, Suhrheinrich, and McKeague) affirmed the district court’s ruling on September 11, 2017. They concluded that the four defendants had not sufficiently shown federal jurisdiction in this case and ordered the case be remanded to state court. 871 F.3d 437. The defendants then filed for certiorari to the Supreme Court, but the Supreme Court denied Certiorari on April 17, 2018.

Dan Toubman - 02/29/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Defendant-type
Sanitation/Public Works
General
Public benefits (includes, e.g., in-state tuition, govt. jobs)
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action State law
Defendant(s) Michigan Department of Environmental Quality
Plaintiff Description Flint water drinkers.
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Unknown
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Filed 2016
Case Closing Year 2018
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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Docket(s)
5:16-cv-11519 (E.D. Mich.)
PB-MI-0016-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/17/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Joint Notice of Removal to Federal Court and Consent to Removal [ECF# 1]
PB-MI-0016-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/27/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Granting Motion to Hold Summary Disposition Briefing in Abeyance [ECF# 49] (E.D. Mich.)
PB-MI-0016-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/13/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion and Order Granting Plaintiffs' Motion to Remand [ECF# 50] (324 F.Supp.3d 918) (E.D. Mich.)
PB-MI-0016-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 10/06/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion [Ct. of App. ECF# 61] (871 F.3d 437)
PB-MI-0016-0004.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 09/11/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Gilman, Ronald Lee Court not on record show/hide docs
PB-MI-0016-0004
Majzoub, Mona K. (E.D. Mich.) [Magistrate] show/hide docs
PB-MI-0016-9000
O'Meara, John Corbett Court not on record show/hide docs
PB-MI-0016-0002 | PB-MI-0016-0003 | PB-MI-0016-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Goodman, William Harry (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0016-9000
Hurwitz, Julie H. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0016-9000
James, Kathryn Bruner (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0016-9000
Labelle, Deborah A. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0016-9000
McGehee, Cary S. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0016-9000
Pitt, Michael L. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0016-9000
Rivers, Beth M. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0016-9000
Young, Trachelle C. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0016-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Barbieri, Charles E. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0016-0001 | PB-MI-0016-9000
Berg, Frederick A. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0016-9000
Berger, Jay M. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0016-9000
Clare, Christopher B. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0016-9000
Collins, Allison M. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0016-9000
Egan, Dennis K. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0016-9000
Eriksson, Reed E. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0016-9000
Gilliam, Courtney B. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0016-9000
Grashoff, Philip A Jr. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0016-0001 | PB-MI-0016-9000
Jackson, Krista A. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0016-9000
Kim, William Young (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0016-9000
Klein, Sheldon H (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0016-9000
Kuhl, Richard S. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0016-9000
Morgan, Thaddeus E. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0016-0001 | PB-MI-0016-9000
Pattwell, Michael J. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0016-0001 | PB-MI-0016-9000

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