FLINT, MI – A federal judge ordered a Flint attorney not to provide “misinformation” about a proposed $ 641 million civil lawsuit settlement in the Flint water crisis. Anyone over 200 people he contacted by email must be made aware of the information they received was misleading.
U.S. District Court judge Judith Levy made her decision after an hour-long hearing with attorney Loyst Fletcher Jr. on Friday, February 5, after other attorneys involved in the settlement requested an injunction and asked the court to release Fletcher Prohibit communication with residents who are already represented by other lawyers in the settlement.
Levy did not issue an injunction, but instead banned Fletcher from future contact with residents that was “false, misleading or inappropriate” and asked Fletcher to provide her with a list of all residents who signed a guardian for his office based on the misinformation had and improper communication. “
Fletcher said he contacted 200 or more residents in the mail after they called his law firm. He was upset that the settlement agreement did not provide enough money for adults and did not give them direct reimbursement for water bills they paid after switching the city’s water source from Lake Huron to the Flint River and back again to Lake Huron.
The lawyer settlement agreement between Flint residents and the state of Michigan, the City of Flint, McLaren Regional Medical Center and Rowe Professional Services provides nearly 80 percent of proceeds to children 17 years or younger when they first stepped in the water parts of Flint River were exposed from 2014 and 2015.
Fletcher said he sent information to residents, including a form letter they could send to Levy containing “several inaccurate statements” about the settlement agreement, “skewed the opt-out procedures,” and “people withheld by a lawyer were wrongly called “to represent them for their demand for a Flint water crisis,” according to the court record.
The serial letter tells Levy that the individuals are Flint residents who have no medical records showing they have been harmed by Flint water and no evidence of damage to their property. They say they intend to “get out of the settlement agreement” and are demanding “2 percent relief as filed by my attorney Loyst Fletcher Jr.”
The judge said she had received six such letters telling Fletcher that the information he had sent residents was misleading, including because residents had to falsely prove that their property was damaged by up to $ 1,000 to collect the settlement pool.
“There is absolutely no requirement for proof of damage (property) … you are wrong, Mr. Fletcher,” said Levy, who said residents who received the information might choose not to seek settlement based on inaccurate information to be submitted that he has made available.
The judge also told Fletcher that he had made a retention agreement that he included in the information sent to residents to give him a 40 percent withholding fee that potentially grossed him more than $ 5.1 million, if 2 percent of the settlement were earmarked for water refunds. There is no such provision in the settlement, and Levy said she couldn’t change the settlement – only approve or reject it.
“The Michigan Court’s 40 percent deductible would be considered excessive,” Levy said. “You overwhelm your customers with your own financial gain. That is not allowed. “
Fletcher said that anyone who got information from him contacted him by phone and said the 40 percent deductible was his standard non-personal injury policy.
The Flint attorney criticized other lawyers involved in the water settlement for recruiting clients by holding community meetings, offering free “fried chicken and grilled ribs,” and compared the practice to luring blacks onto slave ships in Africa.
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