The state of Michigan has agreed on a $600 million settlement in lawsuits regarding the Flint Water Crisis, Attorney General Dana Nessel announced Thursday.
The settlement will be given to parties who claim they were affected by the city of Flint's 2014 transition of its public water supply to the Flint River; the majority of the money will be going to settle claims filed on behalf of children.
The settlement was reached by the state parties and legal counsel after 18 months of negotiations.
“Providing relief for the people of Flint and resolving these long-standing legal disputes has been a top priority for me since taking office,” Nessel said in a press release. “Flint residents have endured more than most, and to draw out the legal back-and-forth even longer would have achieved nothing but continued hardship. This settlement focuses on the children and the future of Flint, and the State will do all it can to make this a step forward in the healing process for one of Michigan’s most resilient cities. Ultimately, by reaching this agreement, I hope we can begin the process of closing one of the most difficult chapters in our State’s history and writing a new one that starts with a government that works on behalf of all of its people.”
The preliminary agreement specifies that about 80 percent of the net settlement fund will be spent on claims of children who were minors when first exposed to the Flint River water, with a large majority of that amount to be paid for claims of children age 6 and younger, and earmarking 2 percent to go to special education services in Genesee County. Another 18 percent of the net settlement funds are to be spent on claims of adults and for property damage. Roughly 1 percent will go toward claims for business losses.
If the settlement receives final court approval, it is likely to be the largest in Michigan state government history, affecting tens of thousands of people and resolving more than a hundred cases in state and federal trial and appellate courts.
"Protecting all Michiganders and their access to clean water is a priority for my administration to make sure nothing like this ever happens again," Governor Gretchen Whitmer said in a press release. "What happened in Flint should have never happened, and financial compensation with this settlement is just one of the many ways we can continue to show our support for the city of Flint and its families."
"We acknowledge that this settlement may not completely provide all that Flint needs, and that many will still feel justifiable frustration with a system and structure that at times is not adequate to fully address what has happened to people in Flint over the last six years. We hear and respect those voices and understand that healing Flint will take a long time, but our ongoing efforts and today’s settlement announcement are important steps in helping all of us move forward."
View a summary of the settlement below:
This story was first reported by WXYZ in Detroit, Michigan.