After more than 18 months of negotiations, the state of Michigan has agreed to pay $600 million to settle a civil suits filed over the Flint Water Crisis that began in 2014. The payout will be disbursed to those affected by the water crisis, with the largest portion going to the children of Flint.
“Protecting all Michiganders and their access to clean water is a priority for my administration to make sure nothing like this ever happens again,” Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in a statement on Thursday (Aug. 20). “What happened in Flint should have never happened, and financial compensation with this settlement is just one of the many ways we can continue to show our support for the city of Flint and its families.”
The money will be placed into a “qualified settlement fund” and dispersed through specific categories. After paying out attorneys fees, “settlement administrative expenses” and other expenses connected to the court case, around 80% of the leftover amount will go to Flint’s minors (64.5% for children under 6). Adult claimants will receive 18% of the total settlement amount (15% for adults, 3% for property damage). The remaining 2.5% will go to business economic loss and “programmatic relief.”
To qualify, adult claimants have to have lived in a Flint residence, or owned and operated a business in Flint, anytime between the “exposure period” that began on April 25, 2014, until the date of the settlement singing. Anyone who came into contact with or ingested water received from the Flint Water Treatment Plant for at least 21 days” during a monthlong “exposure period,” or between April 25, 2014 and Dec. 31, 2016, will also qualify for a portion of the settlement. Minors are not required to show proof of exposure, but special procedures will apply for minors who are legally incapacitated.
The fund will also provide money for “local school districts and public school academies within the Genesee Intermediate School District to finance special education service for students who lived in Flint during the Exposure Period and who require such services.”
Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley thanked Gov. Whitmer for her “leadership” in handling an “issue that she inherited.” Gov. Whitmer took office in 2019.
“We appreciate that she was able to come to an amicable settlement with attorneys representing the residents of the City of Flint,” said Sheldon. “We look forward to seeing the actual terms of this settlement, and hope that it will provide a path to resolve this litigation.
“We urge all defendants to step up and take responsibility like the state of Michigan has done,” he continued. “This settlement will be an important step forward for our community. For years, we were victims — our voices and concerns ignored as lead continued to leech into our water. However, our community is resilient and we have persevered. Moving forward, with our strong spirit intact, we will be known as a community of victors.”