Class Action Lawsuit Accuses Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, Government Officials of Gross Negligence

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The City of Flint Water Plant is illuminated by moonlight on Jan. 23, 2016 in Flint, Mich. (Brett Carlsen / Getty Images)
The City of Flint Water Plant is illuminated by moonlight on Jan. 23 in Flint, Mich. (Brett Carlsen / Getty Images)

Seven Flint, Michigan, families have filed a lawsuit accusing government officials of gross negligence over the water crisis, according to media reports.

CNN reported the lawsuit is just the latest legal action taken over the contaminated water in Flint. The lawsuit, filed Monday, accused Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and several other government officials of violating the Clean Water Act.

Flint residents have been plagued with brown and foul-smelling water since a Snyder-appointed emergency manager switched from Lake Huron to the polluted Flint River as a water source.

The plaintiffs say authorities neglected to take action on “corrosive, lead-contaminated” water, even though they were alerted of the problem as early as 2014.

Snyder’s slow response to the crisis has been widely condemned. He is currently facing demands for a recall and for his arrest. During a recent Democratic debate held in Flint, presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders both called for Snyder’s resignation.

The lawsuit also alleges that government misconduct has caused, “physical and psychological injuries, learning and other permanent disabilities, weight loss, stunted growth, anemia, headaches, abdominal and other pain, mental anguish, emotional distress, the cost of medical, educational, and rehabilitation expenses, and other expenses of training and assistance, loss of income and earning capacity, property damage, destruction of water service lines, and devaluation of property damages.”

The class action suit, filed by attorneys Hunter Shkolnik and Adam Slater, seeks an unspecified amount of damages. According to an Atlanta Blackstar article, damages from lawsuits could reach $1.25 billion.

Both the governor’s office and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality said they couldn’t comment on pending litigation.

“We are focused on solutions for the people of Flint, and we want to stay focused and avoid any distractions,” said a spokesperson for the governor.

CNN also said the government launched a $55 million project to replace Flint’s aging water pipes over the weekend. However, Shkolnik described the money allocated to the project as “laughable,” saying the likely cost would be in the billions.

In an AJ+ video, Flint high school student Khalil Johnson, who is currently helping deliver bottled water door-to-door, said he had friends who had been physically affected by the contaminated water.

“I have some friends that are losing hair,” said Johnson.

Rashema Clegg, another local resident interviewed by AJ+, said she was trying to save up money to move away from Flint.

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