Flint father files lawsuit over child’s lead ingestion

Jennifer Chambers
The Detroit News

Suing on behalf of his 2-year-old daughter who tested positive for lead, a Flint father wants state and city officials to pay for medical monitoring and future costs of medical care from injuries she sustained through exposure to the city’s contaminated water system.

Suing under the Safe Drinking Water Act, Flint resident Luke Waid filed a 48-page complaint Monday in federal court in Michigan’s Eastern District seeking compensation for injuries, damages and losses suffered by his daughter from exposure to lead and other toxic substances from the Flint River beginning on April 25, 2014.

The exposure to his daughter, Sophia Waid, came at critical times including during gestation and developmental years, the lawsuit alleges.

“She’s constantly on edge,” Luke Waid said of his daughter. “It’s almost like she’s suffering some kind of anxiety.”

Losses she has suffered include physical and psychological injuries, learning and other permanent disabilities, weight loss, stunted growth, anemia, headaches, abdominal and other pain.

“(She) has experienced serious physical and emotional injury due to her exposure to the toxic water, including but not limited to heightened levels of lead in her blood, inability to sleep at night; and excessive crying and irritability,” the lawsuit says.

Lead affects the central nervous system, especially in children aged 6 and younger, and can cause learning problems and hyperactivity.

The lawsuit names as defendants Gov. Rick Snyder, current and former state Department of Environmental Quality employees, former Flint emergency manager Darnell Earley and other city and state officials.

“Children under the age of 6 years old are more susceptible to the toxic effects of lead than are adults since the brain and central nervous system are not completely developed,” the complaint says. “Defendants failure to remediate the lead crisis they caused by switching to the Flint River violated the constitutional rights of Plaintiffs by acting in a manner that shocks the conscience of the Plaintiffs.”

Snyder spokesman Dave Murray declined to comment, saying it would be inappropriate for the governor’s office to discuss pending litigation.

As part of the lawsuit, Waid says he and his daughter have a “justifiable and actual fear of developing cancer” from exposure to Flint water and they want state and city officials to pay for early detection and diagnosis of possible diseases including several forms of cancer, respiratory ailments, gastrointestinal ailments, sleep disturbance, and physical stress.

“This increased risk makes periodic diagnostic medical examinations reasonably necessary to establish a ‘baseline’ status of the Plaintiffs’ health and to monitor their status for changes and progressions in their injuries,” the suit says.

Waid is also seeking compensation for reduced economic value of their personal and real property, residential water testing and monitoring; cleanup, removal and remediation of contamination of properties, including the costs of investigation and testing and attorneys' fees.

The lawsuit filing follows several others over Flint’s water crisis. Among them, one lawsuit seeks $150 million in damages and was filed earlier this month on behalf of three residents and a business who paid their water bills and were delivered “lead-poisoned” water from the Flint River, according to a complaint filed in federal court. Two class-action lawsuits on behalf of Flint citizens, who believe they were exposed to lead-tainted water and Legionella bacteria, were filed last month in Genesee Circuit Court and state court.

JChambers@detroitnews.com

Associated Press contributed