FLINT, MI – State officials have made updated funds available to the public to pursue a federal judge’s decision whether or not to provisionally approve a $ 641 million civil lawsuit related to the Flint water crisis.
A hearing to see if a federal judge tentatively approves a settlement is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on Monday, December 21. Flint residents and the public can attend the hearing online by accessing the court’s website.
When visiting the website, users should select the hearing from the drop-down menu (Waid et al. Gegen Snyder et al., Case 16-10444) and fill out the form. Enter the two numbers in reverse order, check the box to confirm that you’ve read the prohibitions on recording, taking photos, or sending court hearings information, and then click Submit. The next screen contains a link that you can click to view the hearing.
Each viewer has to register separately. Depending on other judicial matters, the hearing may not start at 1:30 p.m. on time
U.S. District Court judge Judith Levy said she plans to decide whether to grant preliminary approval of the proposed settlement in January, which could potentially trigger a registration of claims and objections to the deal.
Levy has said that she will only give preliminary approval if she believes the settlement is fair, reasonable and appropriate and has said that the proposal “will not get a stamp from me”.
The deal, first announced in August by Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel, initially only included the state, which was offering $ 600 million, and residents who have filed more than 100 lawsuits in state and federal courts.
In the months since, the City of Flint, McLaren Regional Medical Center, and Rowe Professional Services have joined the deal, contributing an additional $ 41 million. Flint City Council has until December 31st to vote on the deal, city lawyers have said.
In return for the settlement, the parties would be released from lawsuits against other defendants, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, water consultants who worked for the city, and borrowers who helped fund the Karengnondi Water Authority.
The settlement itself would be divided among those with claims based on legal fees, with nearly 80 percent of the pool reserved for children aged 17 or younger when they were first exposed to the waters of the Flint River in parts of 2014 and 2015.
In a press release sent on Saturday evening, December 19, Nessel encouraged residents to attend the hearing on Monday.
“Public participation is part of the settlement process and I encourage Flint residents to attend Monday’s hearing,” Nessel said in the press release. “The state has made concerted efforts to reach this settlement with the plaintiffs’ attorneys under the guidance of court-appointed mediators. Countless hours have gone into drawing up this agreement, and while it may not be perfect, we continue to believe that it is the best possible outcome for the residents and future of Flint. “
Whitmer also urged residents to take part in the joint statement that was released on Saturday evening.
“I encourage Flint residents to find out the details of the settlement, attend the hearing on Monday, and participate in the further settlement process,” said Whitmer. “As I said, what happened in Flint should never have happened, and the financial compensation with this settlement is just a major step forward in the long process of helping the city heal the people of Flint and again to do well, those faced with a lot of uncertainty. “
In order for Judge Levy to grant preliminary approval, the court must consider whether the proposed settlement is fair, reasonable and proportionate. Flint residents have 60 days to register to participate in the settlement program after preliminary approval is granted. After the registration period, Flint Registered Residents have 120 days to submit the necessary documentation to substantiate their claims.
The application process is administered by a neutral court-appointed application manager and takes several months after the agreement is finally approved.
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