A federal judge on Tuesday appointed former U.S. Sen. Carl Levin and retired Wayne County Chief Judge Pamela Harwood as mediators in a class-action lawsuit against Flint and state officials including Gov. Rick Snyder over the city’s lead-contaminated water.
U.S. District Court Judge Judith Levy is scheduled to hold an 11 a.m. hearing Thursday in Ann Arbor. A court notice released Tuesday said case participants needed to make any objections to the proposed mediators by Thursday at 10 a.m. at the federal courthouse in Ann Arbor.
Ted Leopold of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll and Michael Pitt of Pitt McGehee Palmer & Rivers, the co-lead class counsels in the case, said they were encouraged by the proposed mediator appointments.
“We hope that this is the first step by all of the parties to work together on a just resolution for the citizens of Flint,” Leopold and Pitt said in a statement.
In October, attorneys for 21 law firms filed a consolidated lawsuit against Snyder, former state Treasurer Andy Dillon and other state officials as well as those in Flint.
Levy last summer ruled that Flint residents have successfully provided enough evidence for trial that conduct of government officials “was so egregious as to shock the conscience.”
In April 2014, emergency managers appointed by the Snyder administration to run Flint switched the water source from the Detroit-area water authority to the corrosive Flint River, which was not treated with corrective chemicals. As a result, lead and other contaminents leached into the drinking water and harmed residents.
The lawsuit contends that the predominately black residents of Flint as well as the white residents of Genesee County were treated unconstitutionally by the government officials and engineering firms.
Levin, a Detroit Democrat, served in the U.S. Senate from 1979 to 2015 after he announced his retirement. He reportedly joined the Detroit-based law firm of Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn. He could not be reached for comment.
Most of the 21 law firms are from out of state.