Proving Flint lead damages not easy, says lawyers
Apr 19, 2016 01:53 AM EDT
Despite the international outcry and the infamous toxic effects of lead, proving Flint's contaminated water actually caused any particular harm will be far from easy.
Reuters reported that lawyers with expertise in litigation are facing uncertainty, claiming the lawsuit presents several challenges. It is said that the difficulty in showing a causal link adds to other legal obstacles. City and state officials are challenging the cases filed, arguing they are protected by sovereign immunity. The officials said there is a "legal doctrine" that shields agencies and officials from liability for their official actions.
This powerful protection has already kept several major plaintiffs firms away from Flint. In an effort to trounce these potential hurdles, lawyers of the plaintiffs are pursuing several strategies to seek redress for victims such as compensation fund, class-actions, and individual lawsuits.
According to Detroit Free Press, Flint's water became contaminated with lead when the city switched its drinking water source from Lake Huron water system to Flint River Water Treatment Plant. The Department of Environmental Quality of Michigan acknowledges such disastrous mistake when they failed to require the city to add corrosion-control chemicals as part of the treatment process.
Under the policies of the US Environmental Protection Agency, water systems across the country should take steps to control corrosion if lead concentrations go beyond 15 parts per billion in more than 10 percent of customer taps sampled, reports My Northwest. Governor Snyder called the federal lead standard "dumb and dangerous". He also apologized for the failures of his administration.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs claimed that the alleged government failures and misconduct rose to the level of gross negligence, violating the constitutional rights of the residents. There are also lawsuits which focus on private companies that executed tests or work on Flint's water system, although the companies denied such responsibility.
While the courts are sorting out the claims, residents live with uncertainty.