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Flint Fairness Hearing Ends, State Awaits Settlement Ruling
July 15, 2021
LANSING - The hearing to determine whether the State's $600 million Flint water civil settlement will be officially approved concluded today in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.
During the three-day hearing, Judge Judith Levy listened to arguments and objections to determine whether the settlement is fair, adequate and reasonable.
The State made its final statement Monday reaffirming support for the settlement.
Thursday's proceedings focused on the plaintiffs' motion for attorneys' fees. As previously announced in March, the settlement agreement prevents the State from taking a position on plaintiffs' application for attorney fees and expenses unless the Court itself requests it. Judge Levy did not request input from the State Thursday. Therefore, the plaintiffs' attorneys must substantiate their requested fees to the Court and Judge Levy alone will make the decision as to any and all fees paid.
A final ruling from Judge Levy on the settlement is anticipated to be entered later this summer.
"The conclusion of the Flint fairness hearing is the culmination of my civil team's tireless work to reach this historic settlement," Attorney General Dana Nessel said. "Providing this relief has been a top priority for me as Attorney General. I continue to recognize no amount of money will ever erase the damage done by the Flint water crisis, but I also know dragging out the legal process does not serve the people who suffered through unimaginable hardship. As state leaders, we owe them a successful settlement and I remain hopeful the agreement will receive final approval to bring much-needed relief to the people of Flint."
If the settlement is approved and funds are distributed to claimants, the State will have contributed more than $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
Judge Levy gave preliminary approval to the settlement in January, 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.
The registration period resulted in about 85,000 filings. 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.