4 families sue over lead in Flint water

The Detroit News

Four families in Flint have filed a federal lawsuit against state and city officials over Flint water that has left children with elevated levels of lead.

The lawsuit, filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Detroit, charges that the city’s zeal to save money left the families with a wide array of maladies.

The families said the officials were negligent last year in switching from Detroit’s water system to the Flint River.

“The failure to stop the use of the Flint River, despite knowledge it was toxic, made the danger far worse,” said Michael Pitt, one of several attorneys in the lawsuit.

Flint has since changed back to the Detroit water system.

But the damage has already been done, charged the lawsuit.

The four families have suffered hypertension, depression, skin lesions, hair loss, autoimmune disorders and seizure-like convulsions, according to the lawsuit.

The legal complaint singles out 14 state and city officials, including Gov. Rick Snyder, recently ousted Flint Mayor Dayne Walling and Darnell Earley, who was the city’s emergency manager at the time of the switch to the Flint river.

In addition to damages, the suit asks for lifetime medical monitoring for all children injured by the tainted water, and for the hiring of a monitor to oversee city water operations for however long the court deems proper.

Last week, state officials said recent water tests at several hundred buildings in Flint found that drinking water at all homes, businesses and schools need to be tested for possible lead contamination.

For months city residents had complained about the taste, smell and appearance of the water, but officials assured them that the water met safety standards.

But testing then found the elevated levels of lead in the blood of children, and it was found that corrosive water from the Flint River was drawing lead from aging pipes.

Officials eventually declared a public health emergency Oct. 1.