Judge approves $ 626 million settlement for Flint water crisis victims: NPR

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NPR’s Ailsa Chang speaks with Ted Leopold, senior co-lawyer for residents of Flint, Michigan, after a judge approved a settlement for victims of the city’s water crisis.



AILSA CHANG, HOST:

A federal judge has approved a $ 626 million settlement for victims of the Flint water crisis. Residents of the town were exposed to contaminated drinking water after the town changed its water source in an economic move in 2014. Ted Leopold is the lead co-advocate for the residents of Flint, and he is now joining us .

Welcome.

TED LÉOPOLD: Thank you. Thank you for hosting me.

CHANG: I want to delve into some aspects of the judge’s ruling today because she considered several objections to this settlement. One in particular concerned the technology used by a company to determine if residents had lead contamination in their bones, which could help determine how much money a resident is entitled to in this settlement, isn’t it. not?

LEOPOLD: That’s right. So one of the companies has what is called a bone scan. And their clients are gone, as I understand it, and some might continue to go through this process. But this is only one aspect. We have put in place, for the community and those who want to participate, another aspect to be able to obtain a fair and complete recovery from their injuries and damages by going through neuropsychological tests. So we are going to do these tests with experts and doctors from all over the country who are coming and to test everyone who wants to do it – not only adults but also children.

CHANG: OK, so a number of ways a resident can determine how much money they will be owed.

LEOPOLD: That’s right.

CHANG: And there has been reluctance from residents who say this deal is inadequate. Can Flint residents opt out of this settlement and pursue other separate lawsuits if they are not satisfied with the amount in question here?

LEOPOLD: They can withdraw. There was a time limit for the two people who were going to object to making their objections, which Justice Levy touched on, and also for people to opt out of this settlement process. So all of that was taken into consideration.

CHANG: But in the future, no one else can opt out at this point, can they?

LEOPOLD: That’s right. They participate or not.

CHANGE: Okay. But just to be clear, there are still separate lawsuits pending in addition to this class action lawsuit related to what happened to Flint, right?

LEOPOLD: Right. There are. And I think that raises an issue that you just asked about in terms of concerns, I quote, “not enough money”, if you will, by some people in the community. And, you know, in something like that, it had such a catastrophic effect on a community and especially the community of Flint that has gone through, historically, such tough times that, you know, no amount of money has ever gone through. could never cure what happened. . But we think this is a large sum of money that hopefully can do justice, or at least a semblance of justice, to what happened, bring an end for people – but also that that $ 600 million and more is part of the story. There are still other engineering companies – private engineering companies that are defendants in the case. We – recently Judge Levy certified this case. And if this case does not resolve, we look forward to and work hard to prepare this case for trial. So there are additional funds that will be available.

CHANG: Ted Leopold is Co-Senior Advisor to the Residents of Flint.

Thank you very much for being with us today.

LEOPOLD: Thank you.

(MUSIC EXTRACT)

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