The state of Michigan has agreed to pay $600 million to settle lawsuits related to the contamination of Flint’s water supply. This settlement, in combination with the settlements reached by the city and a local hospital, is the largest legal settlement in the state’s history.
Attorney General Dana Nessel, a Democrat, announced that a county judge has given formal approval to the settlement, which comes more than two years after another court issued preliminary approval.
The settlement includes $600 million from the state, $20 million from the city, $5 million from McLaren Regional Medical Center, and $1.5 million from Rowe Professional Services. An earlier version of the preliminary agreement had earmarked $20 million from McLaren instead of $5 million, but clarification on this point is pending from Nessel’s office.
Under the terms of the settlement, 80% of the net funds will go to individuals who were minors when exposed to contaminated water in Flint, with another 18% going towards adult claims and property damage claims. The remaining 2% will be used for special education services in Genesee County, and the remaining 8% will be allocated to business losses.
While Nessel acknowledged that the settlement cannot undo the damage caused by the contamination, she said it would provide “much needed compensation” for the families affected. State officials allowed Flint, a predominantly Black city, to switch its water source from Lake Huron and the Detroit River to the Flint River in 2014, which exposed up to 12,000 children to lead-contaminated water. The transition also led to a Legionnaires’ Disease outbreak that killed at least 12 people.
Several officials, including former Republican Governor Rick Snyder, faced criminal charges related to the crisis, but charges against seven of them were later dropped by a court.