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Judge dismisses more Flint water crisis lawsuits

Jennifer Chambers
The Detroit News

Three lawsuits brought by Flint residents against Michigan officials in the wake of the city’s water crisis were dismissed on Tuesday.

U.S. District Judge John Corbett O’Meara issued an opinion and order to dismiss two cases — one filed by Luke Waid and the other by Myia McMillian — against Gov. Rick Snyder and other state officials, saying claims were precluded by the Safe Water Drinking Act.

O’Meara gave the same reason last week when he dismissed a lawsuit filed by Flint resident and activist Melissa Mays in connection with the water crisis as well as for another case he dismissed earlier filed by Flint resident Beatrice Boler.

In those cases, O’Meara had written that allowing the “claims to proceed would circumvent the SWDA (Safe Water Drinking Act).”

As part of the dismissal, O’Meara said those plaintiffs — Waid and McMillian — failed to comply with a 60-day notice requirement under the SWDA. O’Meara declined to dismiss state claims made in both cases, meaning they can be refiled in state court.

Waid sued in February 2016 on behalf of his 2-year-old daughter who tested positive for lead. He had asked the court to order 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.

Waid sued under the Safe Drinking Water Act, 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, Waid said.

McMillian’s case, filed in March, was a class-action on behalf of tens of thousands of Flint residents who were water users during the crisis.

In her complaint, she sued on behalf of two children who lived with her in Flint, alleging they suffered high levels of lead in the blood and medical problems from the lead in the water. McMillian also said she suffered property damage from lead contamination.

In the third case, Flint resident Frances Gilcreast and other residents filed a class action complaint against Lockwood, Andrews and Newnam; Leo A. Daly Co. and Veolia North America. Those were the engineering consultant firms for Flint water.

O’Meara said he dismissed that case because it lacked “subject matter jurisdiction,” which means allegations in the lawsuit did not fall under federal law.

O’Meara has dismissed approximately 60 cases filed in connection with the Flint water crisis. Most were filed in 2015 and 2016. Some of the cases were remanded to state court, while others were outright dismissed. Some are on appeal.

O’Meara has two active cases before him in federal court related to Flint water.