Claims process for Flint settlement participants opens Jan. 12

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News

Flint residents registered to participate in the $626.25 million water crisis settlement can begin submitting their claims Jan. 12 to get a share of the settlement. 

The claims submission period online or through the mail will conclude on May 12 and claims submitted online are encouraged for efficient processing, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel's office said Wednesday. 

For most claimants involved in the case, those claims documents will be prepared and submitted by their lawyers. Anyone in need of assistance can call the claims administrator at (800) 493-1754.

It's not clear when payments on the claims will be made. Each claim will need to be reviewed and evaluated.

“The opening of the claims period marks an important part of the settlement process — and one step closer to providing monetary relief to those who have endured unimaginable hardship,” Nessel said in a statement. “I ask that registrants review the latest information to best understand how to file their claim.” 

Flint residents registered to participate in the $626.25 million water crisis settlement can begin submitting their claims Jan. 12 to get a share of the settlement.

Officials have said settlement administrators received roughly 50,614 registrations for unique claims, and another 1,219 claims were included as late registrants. That makes up more than half of the city of Flint's population, which was at about 100,000 residents at the time of the water crisis and at a little more than 95,000 during the 2020 census. About 30,000 of Flint's residents at the time of the water crisis were considered minors. 

Some plaintiffs did not join the settlement and will instead continue pursuing their claims in court. 

The lawsuits subject to the settlement were filed starting in 2016, as the scope of the Flint water crisis began to emerge. The crisis began when the city switched its water source to the Flint River in 2014 but failed to put in proper corrosion controls to prevent the water from leaching lead from lead service lines and into the water of thousands of homes. 

In November, U.S. District Judith Levy gave final approval to the historic $626.25 million settlement, calling it a "fair and sensible resolution of the claims" for the people of Flint and the defendants in the case. 

The settlement total includes $600 million from the state of Michigan, $20 million from the city of Flint, $5 million from McLaren Health Care Corp. and $1.25 million from Rowe Professional Services Co. 

Distribution of the settlement and the amount of money each claim will receive is complex and depends on several factors. 

Payouts from the settlement will be made based on a formula that directs more money to younger claimants and to those who can prove greater injury through blood and bone lead levels, cognitive deficits and overall level of exposure to lead-tainted water.

About 80% of the settlement will go to individuals who were minors when first exposed to contaminated water, including 65% for kids 6 and younger, 10% for children aged 7 to 11 and 5% for youth ages 12 to 17. While all minors will get a share of the settlement, some will get a greater amount depending on the extent of their injuries.

Of the remaining roughly 20% of the settlement, 15% will go to adults with injuries sustained in the crisis, 3% for adults with property damage, 0.5% for economic losses to businesses and 2% for special education services. 

eleblanc@detroitnews.com