Flint Residents Were Given ‘False Assurances’ Water Was Safe, Lawsuits Allege

The two new suits were filed Friday and today.

ByABC News
January 19, 2016, 2:14 PM

— -- Lawyers have now filed three suits on behalf of Flint residents, as they ask the "state of Michigan to step up" amidst Flint's ongoing water crisis.

Two additional suits, both class-action, were filed Friday and today by Flint residents against Gov. Rick Snyder, former Flint emergency managers Darnell Earley and Jerry Ambrose, the state Department of Environmental Quality, state Department of Health & Human Services and Genesee County, attorneys from Pitt, McGehee, Palmer & Rivers announced today. A federal lawsuit had already been filed, attorney Bill Goodman said.

"More has to be done and we have to reach out in every possible direction," Goodman said today.

With lawsuits come discovery, Goodman said, so they hope to find out what happened, including from emails and officials' sworn testimony.

Attorney Michael Pitt said that while "we applaud the government for trying, as meager as it is, to correct the harm they caused," the attorneys are working for the "immediate needs" of their clients.

"They need financial aid now," Pitt said, citing a family he says has been paying for a motel room to shower.

Pitt said state officials made "false assurances," claiming the water was safe.

"They were silent. They were staring at a public health emergency and they sat on it for ten months," Pitt said.

Pitt demanded state officials involved in the Flint water crisis take action immediately.

"You made the mess, you clean it up," he said. "We want the state of Michigan to immediately start taking care of the financial needs of our people."

Pitt said he wants the "state of Michigan to step up now" so the suits can be resolved and people can continue with their lives.

Gov. Snyder has insisted he did not initially know of the severity of the water situation, but Pitt said "that's a lie and we are going to prove that's a lie."

Attorney Cary McGehee said today the lawyers have set up a call center and 500 individuals-residents have so far registered to be part of this class action.

McGehee said they are working to collect and document medical records from those involved in the class action as evidence.

Another attorney said they hope to prevent the city from issuing any more shut-off notices based on residents' inability to pay their bills, as residents are getting billed for water they cannot use.

The mayor’s office has not responded to a request for comment.

When Flint switched its water supply from the Detroit supply to the Flint River in the spring of 2014 to save money, it was intended as a temporary measure until a new water line to Lake Huron could be built.

But improperly treated water from the Flint River caused lead to leach from the pipes, officials said.

Gov. Snyder is expected to discuss the water crisis tonight in his State of the State address.