Supreme Court Decision Means Flint Residents Can Sue Over Water Crisis
City officials and state regulators argued that they had "qualified immunity" from being sued, but lower courts rejected this argument. By refusing to hear two cases related to the matter, the Supreme Court has upheld those rulings, NPR explained.
"It's time for the people of Flint to start feeling like they are going to get their day in court," lawyer Michael Pitt told Michigan Radio. "This just moves the entire process closer to that day."
Pitt is a co-lead counsel on a class action lawsuit filed by thousands of Flint residents seeking damages in the wake of the water crisis. The case which triggered the Supreme Court decision was filed by two Flint residents including mother Shari Guertin, who said she and her child were exposed to lead, Reuters reported.
The crisis began In 2014 when an emergency manager appointed by then-Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder switched the city's water supply to the Flint River. The improperly treated water leached lead and bacteria from the pipes, contaminating water and causing a deadly outbreak of Legionnaires' Disease. More than 25,000 Flint residents were harmed by exposure to lead or other contaminants, according to court records reported by Reuters. More than 5,000 of those individuals were children under the age of 12. No level of lead exposure, which can harm children's cognitive development, is considered safe.
Government officials at first said the contaminated water was safe, but admitted 18 months later that it was not, according to NPR. The city's water supply was finally switched to Lake Huron. The supply did not meet federal safety standards until late in 2016.
"They have been denied justice," Pitt told Michigan Radio of his clients.
The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had previously ruled that the officials were not immune from lawsuits.
"Knowing the Flint River water was unsafe for public use, distributing it without taking steps to counter its problems, and assuring the public in the meantime that it was safe is conduct that would alert a reasonable person to the likelihood of personal liability," the lower court ruled, as CNN reported. "Any reasonable official should have known that doing so constitutes conscience-shocking conduct prohibited by the substantive due process clause."
The officials had argued they should be immune because they could not have known they would be sued for doing the best they could with the information they had, according to Reuters.
"Allowing the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling to stand (means the Supreme Court decided the lower court's) reasoning was strong, appropriate and well-researched," Guertin's lawyer Paul Geske told Michigan Live.
Spring is coming. And soon, tree swallows will start building nests. But as the climate changes, the birds are nesting earlier in the spring.
"It's getting warmer overall. They're thinking, OK, it's a good time to breed, to lay my eggs," says Lily Twining of the Max Planck Institute for Animal Behavior in Germany.
She says that despite recent warming, late-season cold snaps remain common. Those cold snaps can harm newborn chicks.
Hatchlings cannot regulate their body temperature, so they are vulnerable to hypothermia. And the insects they eat stop flying in cold weather, potentially leaving the chicks to starve.
"These chicks are growing very, very fast," Twining says. "They have very high energy demands, so… if they don't get a lot of that good high-quality food during this pretty specific time… that's when these cold weather events seem to be most devastating."
For example, data from Ithaca, New York, shows that a single cold snap in 2016 killed more than 70% of baby tree swallows.
"And there have been more and more of these severe cold weather die-off events for these tree swallows as they've been breeding earlier and earlier over the past 40 or so years," Twining says.
So for these songbirds, earlier springs can come with devastating consequences.
Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy / ChavoBart Digital Media
Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.
- Spring Is Arriving Earlier Across the U.S. - EcoWatch ›
- Climate Change Leading to Fatal Bird Conflicts - EcoWatch ›
- The Unsettling Reason Why We're Seeing More Snowy Owls ... ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Citigroup will strive to reach net-zero greenhouse gas pollution across its lending portfolio by 2050 and in its own operations by 2030, the investment group announced Monday.
- 20 Attorneys General Launch Climate Fraud Investigation of Exxon ... ›
- Exxon Plans to Increase Its Climate Pollution - EcoWatch ›
- Exxon to Slash 14,000 Jobs Worldwide as Oil Demand Drops ... ›
By Jacob Job
Maybe you've seen a video clip of a fluffy white fox moving carefully through a frozen landscape. Suddenly it leaps into the air and dive-bombs straight down into the snow. If so, you've witnessed the unusual hunting skills of an Arctic fox.
- Animals With White Winter Camouflage Could Struggle to Adapt to ... ›
- Heavy Snowfall in 2018 Kept Arctic Wildlife From Breeding - EcoWatch ›
By Brett Wilkins
An international survey conducted by the University of Cambridge and YouGov ahead of this November's COP26 United Nations Climate Change Conference, and published on Monday, found overwhelming support around the world for governments taking more robust action to protect the environment amid the worsening climate crisis.
<div id="26ea0" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="7aa0d6136bd98584572b3d9cc3ccc8fc"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1366418460289470467" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Nine out of ten people in the UK, Brazil, India, China, Indonesia and Poland want governments to “do more” to prote… https://t.co/URLdsms6LB</div> — Cambridge University (@Cambridge University)<a href="https://twitter.com/Cambridge_Uni/statuses/1366418460289470467">1614614522.0</a></blockquote></div>
While the hazards of fracking to human health are well-documented, first-of-its-kind research from Environmental Health News shows the actual levels of biomarkers for fracking chemicals in the bodies of children living near fracking wells far higher than in the general population.
A man stands with his granddaughter in front of the Murphy Oil site located next door to his apartment in West Adams, Los Angles, California on July 16, 2014. Sarah Craig / Faces of Fracking
- Total Ban on Fracking Urged by Health Experts: 1,500 Studies ... ›
- Every Parent Concerned About Their Kids' Health Should Read This ... ›
- 650,000 Children in 9 States Attend School Within 1 Mile of a ... ›
- Fracking Chemicals Remain Secret Despite EPA Knowledge of ... ›
- Study: Fracking Chemicals Harm Kids' Brains - EcoWatch ›