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Case Name Nappier v. Snyder PB-MI-0028
Docket / Court 1:16-cv-00636 ( W.D. Mich. )
Additional Docket(s) 16-000071-MM  [ 16-71 ]  Trial Court (MI)
State/Territory Michigan
Case Type(s) Public Benefits / Government Services
Special Collection Flint Water Cases
Case Summary
On March 23, 2016, a resident of Flint, Michigan filed this class action lawsuit in the Michigan Court of Claims on behalf of her child and all other children in Flint who suffered brain damage from drinking unsafe tap water during the Flint water crisis. The plaintiff sued numerous state officials, ... read more >
On March 23, 2016, a resident of Flint, Michigan filed this class action lawsuit in the Michigan Court of Claims on behalf of her child and all other children in Flint who suffered brain damage from drinking unsafe tap water during the Flint water crisis. The plaintiff sued numerous state officials, including the Governor and Flint emergency managers. Represented by private counsel, the plaintiff sought class certification, declaratory relief, compensatory and exemplary damages, and attorneys’ fees and costs. The plaintiffs alleged the defendants were grossly negligent because they continued to “falsely reassure the public” that the water was safe despite evidence to the contrary.

Specifically, the plaintiffs alleged that, shortly after Flint officials began using water from the Flint River in 2013, the defendants began to receive complaints from residents about the color, taste, and odor of the water. By August 2014, Flint water tested positive for E. coli. and several “boil water” advisories were issued by the city of Flint through September 2014. But the water also contained lead, and boiling the water increased its lead concentration. The plaintiffs also emphasized the dangers of children consuming lead. According to the plaintiffs, children absorb forty to fifty percent of an oral dose of lead compared with three to ten percent absorption for adults.

The defendants removed the case on May 31, 2016. They gave two reasons: first, that they acted under color of federal law, 28 U.S.C. § 1442, and second, that the plaintiffs’ negligence claims required construction of the Safe Drinking Water Act and the EPA’s Lead and Copper Rule; these federal questions, they said, justified removal under 28 U.S.C. § 1441.

On March 31, 2017, Judge Gordon J. Quist ruled that the defendants were not “acting under any federal officer or agency” when they took the actions that formed the basis of the plaintiffs’ claims, so they were not entitled to removal under 28 U.S.C. § 1442. In addition, Judge Quist concluded that the court did not have jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1441 because their negligence claims did not “implicate an important federal interest.” Accordingly, the case was remanded to Michigan Court of Claims.

On April 6, 2017, the defendants appealed this decision to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, which affirmed the district court’s decision on April 16, 2018. Judge White described the relationship between the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and the EPA as “cooperative federalism, not an agency relationship” and concluded that the defendants were not eligible for federal-officer removal. The Court of Appeals also determined that federal question jurisdiction did not exist, relying on Mays v. Flint, a similar case also arising from the Flint water crisis.

The defendants against appealed again, but the Supreme Court declined to hear the case on October 1, 2018.

The case returned to the Michigan Court of Claims. (In fact, litigation in the Court of Claims had already resumed because the federal district court declined to stay its order remanding the case while the federal appeals proceeded.)

The Court of Claims granted summary disposition in favor of some, but not all defendants in a series of orders beginning in 2017. Three governmental employees appealed, claiming governmental immunity. On March 14, 2019, the Michigan Court of Appeals determined that their liability depended on whether the defendants’ conduct was a proximate cause of the plaintiffs’ injury, which was not a suitable topic for summary disposition. The defendants appealed to the Michigan Supreme Court, and the case is ongoing.

Olivia Vigiletti - 12/02/2019


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Defendant-type
Sanitation/Public Works
General
Access to public accommodations - governmental
Government Services (specify)
Public benefits (includes, e.g., in-state tuition, govt. jobs)
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action State law
Defendant(s) Governor of Michigan
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality
Plaintiff Description A resident of Flint, MI, on behalf of her child and all other children of Flint who, from April 25, 2014 through the present, were residing in the City of Flint and who have suffered brain damage as a result of unsafe water.
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Pending
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None yet
Filed 03/23/2016
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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Docket(s)
1:16-cv-00636 (W.D. Mich.)
PB-MI-0028-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/01/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
16-000071-MM (State Trial Court)
PB-MI-0028-9001.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/29/2019
Source: State Court Website
General Documents
Notice of Removal to Federal Court and Consent to Removal [ECF# 1]
PB-MI-0028-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/31/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Exhibit B: Michigan Court of Claims March 23, 2016 Complaint [ECF# 1-3]
PB-MI-0028-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/31/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion Regarding Jurisdiction [ECF# 75] (W.D. Mich.)
PB-MI-0028-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/31/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion [Ct. of App. ECF# 84] (728 Fed.Appx. 571)
PB-MI-0028-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 04/16/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion (2019 WL 1211469)
PB-MI-0028-0006.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 03/14/2019
Source: Westlaw
show all people docs
Judges Green, Phillip J. Court not on record [Magistrate] show/hide docs
PB-MI-0028-9000
Quist, Gordon Jay (W.D. Mich.) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0028-0002 | PB-MI-0028-9000 | PB-MI-0028-9001
White, Helene N. (Sixth Circuit) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0028-0003
Plaintiff's Lawyers Stamler, Patricia A (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0028-9000
Thomson, Elizabeth C. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0028-9000 | PB-MI-0028-9001
Defendant's Lawyers Barbieri, Charles E. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0028-0001 | PB-MI-0028-0005 | PB-MI-0028-9000 | PB-MI-0028-9001
Berger, Jay M. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0028-9000
Bettenhausen, Margaret A. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0028-9000
Cafferty, Michael S. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0028-9000 | PB-MI-0028-9001
Chartier- Mittendorf, Mary (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0028-9000 | PB-MI-0028-9001
Clare, Christopher B. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0028-9000
Collins, Allison M. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0028-9000
Driker, Eugene (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0028-9000
Egan, Dennis K. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0028-9000
Gambill, Nathan A. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0028-9000 | PB-MI-0028-9001
Gilliam, Courtney B. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0028-9000
Grashoff, Philip A. Jr. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0028-0001 | PB-MI-0028-0005 | PB-MI-0028-9000 | PB-MI-0028-9001
Jackson, Krista A. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0028-9000
Kim, William Young (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0028-9000
Kuhl, Richard S. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0028-9000
Larsen, Zachary C. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0028-9000
Mendel, Todd R. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0028-9000
Morgan, Thaddeus E. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0028-0001 | PB-MI-0028-0005 | PB-MI-0028-9000 | PB-MI-0028-9001
Pattwell, Michael J. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0028-0001 | PB-MI-0028-0005 | PB-MI-0028-9000 | PB-MI-0028-9001
Perkins, Todd Russell (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0028-9000
Perry, Michael H. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0028-9000
Vance, Robert Paul (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0028-9000
Witus, Morley (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0028-9000
Wolf, Barry A. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0028-9000 | PB-MI-0028-9001

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