A Michigan judge Tuesday approved a final settlement related to the tainted-water cases from the city of Flint, creating what will become the largest civil settlement in the state’s history. File Photo by Molly Riley/UPI | License Photo
March 21 (UPI) -- A Michigan judge Tuesday approved a $625 million final settlement related to Flint's tainted-water crisis, creating what will become the largest civil settlement in the state's history.
Genesee County Circuit Court Chief Judge David Newblatt finalized the settlement between the defendants, the City of Flint, and the State of Michigan, the state's attorney general, Dana Nessel, confirmed in a statement.
The historic settlement will see the state pay $600 million, while the city will cover $20 million. Flint-based McLaren Regional Medical Center will be required to pay $5 million, while Michigan-based Rowe Professional Services is responsible for $1.5 million.
The combined $625 million settlement was given preliminary approval in November 2021.
On Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit affirmed a lower court ruling related to attorney fees. Defendants had argued attorneys in the case should be entitled a lower percentage of the settlement.
The settlement establishes a process for those defendants to submit claims. Claimants are eligible if they owned or lived in a residence or owned a business that received water from the Flint Water Treatment Plant. A person is also eligible if they ingested or came into contact with water received from the plant for at least 21 days during a 30-day period or were diagnosed with Legionnaires' Disease.
"This historic settlement cannot undo the unimaginable hardship and heartbreaking health effects these families and children in Flint have endured," Nessel said in the statement.
The water crisis began on April 25, 2014, when Flint switched its drinking water supply to the Flint River and away from Lake Huron and the Detroit River. The water supply was not properly treated, exposing residents to lead and other contaminants, including bacteria. The drinking water was not declared entirely free of lead until January 2017.
Thousands of people are still suffering the psychological effects of the water crisis.