Nov 10, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Judge approves $626 million Flint water settlement

Photo of a white dome tower that says "Flint water plant" on the side

Photo: Bill Pugliano via Getty Images

A federal judge on Wednesday signed off on a $626 million settlement for people who were exposed to lead-contaminated water in Flint, Michigan.

Driving the news: The terms will see nearly 80% of the settlement go to children who were younger than 18 when they were first exposed to the contaminated water.

  • People who paid water bills and adults who ingested the water are eligible. Certain businesses that underwent economic losses due to the crisis can also make settlement claims.
  • Most of the money will come from the state. The settlement is one of the largest in the state's history, according to U.S. District Judge Judith Levy.

Flashback: In 2014 and 2015, children in the city, many Black and under the poverty line, experienced a surge in lead poisoning after the city switched its water source to the Flint River without treating it to reduce corrosion.

  • In the aftermath, state leaders were accused of ignoring the risks and dismissing claims of illness.

What they're saying: "The settlement reached here is a remarkable achievement for many reasons, not the least of which is that it sets forth a comprehensive compensation program and timeline that is consistent for every qualifying participant," Levy wrote in the 178-page order.

Don't forget: The contaminated water was blamed for an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease that killed at least 12 people.

The big picture: A government-appointed civil rights commission found in 2017 that systemic racism going back decades contributed to the water crisis.

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