July 12, 2021
LANSING - The hearing to determine whether the State's $600 million Flint water civil settlement will be officially approved begins today in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.
In January, Judge Judith Levy gave preliminary approval to the settlement, which established the process through which Flint residents could indicate their intention to file eligible settlement claims that will be processed and paid by the claims administrator.
Attorney General Dana Nessel and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in August announced the State's portion of the preliminary agreement to settle the lawsuits filed against the State after the City of Flint switched its public water supply to the Flint River in 2014.
Defendants that ultimately joined the settlement include the City of Flint, McLaren Regional Medical Center and Rowe Professional Services Co.
The fairness hearing begins at 10 a.m. this morning, Monday, and is scheduled to take three days, with no court scheduled Wednesday. The final day, instead, is planned for Thursday, July 15.
During the hearing, Judge Levy will listen to arguments and objections to determine whether the settlement is fair, adequate and reasonable. A final ruling is anticipated to be entered later this summer.
If the settlement is approved and funds are distributed to claimants, the State will have contributed over $1 billion to the city's relief and recovery efforts. Past contributions include a settlement agreement whereby $97 million was made available to replace all of the city's lead service lines in its water system. To date, the State has spent nearly $423 million in response to the Flint water emergency.
ADDITIONAL SETTLEMENT BACKGROUND
Following the preliminary approval in January, Flint residents had 60 days to register to participate in the settlement program. That period closed at the end of March. About 85,000 registrations were filed. A data review is now underway to verify registrations are authentic and no duplicates exist.
The next step is the claims period, which can open before final approval is granted and is expected to commence by August. Once the claims period begins, registered Flint residents will have 120 days to file the documents necessary to support their claims.
Detailed information will continue to be available on the claims administrator website.
The preliminary agreement specified that about 80% of the net settlement fund will be spent on claims of children who were minors when first exposed to the Flint River water, with a large majority of that amount to be paid for claims of children age six and younger, and earmarking 2% to go to special education services in Genesee County. Another 18% of the net settlement funds are to be spent on claims of adults and for property damage. Roughly 1% will go toward claims for business losses.
The amount of money to be paid to individual claimants won't be determined until the claims process proceeds as it depends, in part, on the number of claims submitted and found to be eligible.