Editor’s note: Below are excerpts from a press conference held in front of the Flint Water Plant days before a Federal Judge gave preliminary approval to the $600 million settlement. The struggle continues for restorative justice before final approval of the deal sometime this summer.
FLINT, MI — Good Afternoon. We are a group comprised of concerned Flint area community leaders, ministers, and activists.
Because of the FLINT WATER CRISIS have most of the citizens of Flint received a bone lead test? The answer to this important question is more than likely NO. For this reason, and others which will be enumerated in this brief statement, we are gravely concerned that the proposed allocation of settlement proceeds are egregiously unfair to the vast majority of citizens in Flint and their children – people who need it the most. The access to this testing has been “hoarded” by just two law firms. The ramifications of this lack of access to this critical testing means that many needy and deserving children – and adults – will be deprived of much deserved compensation.
As the settlement is currently configured, the Bone Lead Test requirements guarantee MINIMAL participation in the damage categories of 1, 2, and 3 – for children — which pay greater compensation for two reasons. One, because of the aforementioned lack of availability of the Bone Lead Test, AND two, in the absence of said bone lead test, the oppressive stipulation that children can only qualify for damage categories 2 and 3 by undergoing a full individual evaluation from a team that MUST INCLUDE (1) A BOARD-CERTIFIED PEDIATRICIAN and (2) a neuropsychologist.
These unprecedented hurdles that the plaintiffs have to jump over are harsh. These burdens of proof are not required under any other reasonable setting – it’s as if these requirements are designed to PROTECT THE INTERESTS OF THE POWERFUL, and place an oppressive burden of proof UPON THE INNOCENT – THE DEFENSELESS CHILDREN AND THEIR PARENTS – both of whom were unwittily subjected to this catastrophic municipal poisoning allowed by neglectful city and state officials…
In addition, the first four damage categories for children, which compensate the most for damages, ‘conveniently’ EXCLUDES a crucial, salient factor, which is this – whether a Flint home was connected to a LEAD SERVICE LINE. This exclusion guarantees that fewer plaintiffs will quality for levels of compensation that they SHOULD JUSTLY RECEIVE.
Also, the property damage max of $1,000 for Flint homeowners is woefully inadequate as this amount does not consider (1) the exorbitant utility rates for unusable water that Flint citizens were expected to pay during the Water Crisis, the tainted water, and (2) the other costs incurred because of the tainted water:
*Replacement OF APPLIANCES * INSTALLATION OF WATER FILTRATION SYSTEMS * COST OF BOTTLED WATER * REPLACEMENT OF CLOTHING *REPLACEMENT OF PIPES *LOSS OF RENTS FOR LANDLORDS *Decimation of Property Values *LOSS of INVESTMENT AND PEOPLE into Flint and surrounding areas.
And of course, the necessity of LIFELONG medical treatment for children of the Water Crisis. To one extent or the other, THE QUALITY OF LIFE for Flint citizens was DESTROYED.
In conclusion, we believe that the proposed settlement, as currently allocated, is just as disrespectful as the water crisis tragedy itself. Please ask yourself this question: How can you justify just 20-30% (if that many) receiving some meager form of redress when 100% of the population was affected? . . .
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