Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Judge Orders Michigan Health Director to Face Trial Over Flint Water Crisis Deaths

Popular
Judge Orders Michigan Health Director to Face Trial Over Flint Water Crisis Deaths
Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon, seen here speaking to the press about the Flint water crisis in 2016, will be the highest ranking official to stand trial over the public health disaster. Brett Carlsen / Getty Images

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon will be the highest ranking official to go to trial so far as a result of an investigation into the Flint water crisis, The Associated Press reported Monday.

Judge David Goggins ruled Monday there was probable cause for Lyon to stand trial for involuntary manslaughter in the deaths of Robert Skidmore and John Snyder that prosecutors say were due to a Legionnaires' disease outbreak that Lyon was aware of a year before he alerted Michigan's governor, Michigan Live reported. Lyons is also charged with misconduct in office.


"We're looking at today as the first step and the next step for justice for the moms and the dads and the kids of Flint, specifically for the families of Mr. Snyder and Mr. Skidmore," spokesperson for Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, Andrea Bitely, told The Detroit News.

Schuette's office is conducting an ongoing investigation into what happened when the Flint River was used for drinking water in Flint for 18 months in 2014 and 2015. The corrosive water was not treated and it leached lead from pipes into the water supply, The Associated Press summarized.

Michigan Live reported that two university studies also link the use of Flint River water to a Legionnaires' disease outbreak that The Associated Press reported killed 12 and sickened 90 in 2014 and 2015.

Lyon is the highest-ranking of 15 local or state officials charged over either the Legionnaires' outbreak or the lead contamination. Four have agreed to plea deals, and the remaining cases are proceeding slowly, The Associated Press reported.

Lyon's attorneys said there was "zero proof that there was anything Director Lyon did or did not do" that caused the deaths of Snyder and Skidmore, according to Michigan Live.

They also argued that prosecuting him would "dangerously chill" public employees, according to The Associated Press.

Special Prosecutor Todd Flood maintained he could have ordered a change in the city's water supply, Michigan Live reported.

Prosecutors also accused him of covering up the source of the outbreak by preventing researchers from investigating its cause.

"He had the chance to save lives," Flood said in a July 25 hearing, according to The Associated Press.

Goggins seemed to agree Lyon should have acted sooner.

"I find this behavior over this time period of withholding information corrupt based upon misconduct in office for probable cause standards," Goggins said, according to The Detroit News.

The case will now proceed to trial in the Genesee Circuit Court.

"It's a long way from over," Lyon told The Associated Press.

Actress Jessica Smith gets her make-up done at the Point De Vue Salon on March 1, 2006 in Los Angeles, California. Marsaili McGrath / Getty Images

California became the first state in the nation to ban two dozen toxic chemicals from cosmetics Wednesday when Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill to that effect into law.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

The MoveOn political action committee memorializes coronavirus deaths in the U.S. on May 13, 2020 in Washington, DC. Tasos Katopodis / Getty Images for MoveOn

As the coronavirus has spread around the globe, so have the germs of misinformation and conspiracy theories about the new disease. Fake news about the virus is so prevalent that health professionals have started referring to it as an "infodemic."

Read More Show Less

Trending

A Marathon Oil refinery in Melvindale, Michigan on June 9, 2020. The Federal Reserve bought $3 million in the company's bonds before they were downgraded, bringing taxpayers' total stake to $7 million. FracTracker Alliance

A new report shows the U.S. government bought more than $350 million in bonds issued by oil and gas companies and induced investors to loan the industry tens of billions more at artificially low rates since the coronavirus pandemic began, Bloomberg reported.

Read More Show Less
A September 17 report by the Rhodium Group calculates that 1.8 billion tons more greenhouse gases will be released over the next 15 years as a result of climate change rollbacks the Trump administration has achieved so far. Pete Linforth / Pixabay / CC0

By Karen Charman

When President Donald Trump visited California on September 14 and dismissed the state Secretary of Natural Resources Wade Crowfoot's plea to recognize the role of climate change in the midst of the Golden State's worst and most dangerous recorded fire season to date, he gaslighted the tens of millions of West Coast residents suffering through the ordeal.

Read More Show Less
President Donald Trump delivers the State of the Union address in the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives on February 04, 2020 in Washington, DC. Mark Wilson / Getty Images

By Jan Ellen Spiegel

It wasn't so long ago that the issue of climate change was poised to play a huge – possibly even a decisive – role in the 2020 election, especially in the race for control of the U.S. Senate. Many people supporting Democratic candidates saw a possible Democratic majority as a hedge against a potential Trump re-election … a way to plug the firehose spray of more than 100 environmental regulation rollbacks and new anti-climate initiatives by the administration over its first term.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch