Written by Tanya Terry
Although there were only about a dozen individuals who spoke on behalf of more residents of Flint who feel the proposed Water Crisis Settlement is unfair and unjust during the July 13 fairness hearings, their words were carefully selected in order to move the Judge Judith Levy of Michigan’s Eastern District to not accept the settlement. Genesee County Circuit Judge Joseph J. Farah also listened to the objections, with both judges being in his courtroom.
Among those who spoke were former mayors, council people and council candidates, as well as other concerned citizens. Over 50,000 unique registrants filed to be part of the settlement. According to federal court records, more than 150 individuals filed objections to the settlement.
3rd Ward Flint City Council Candidate AC Dumas was the first of the objectors present to speak on July 13.
He said he had a few points he wanted the judge to ponder.
“Why did the lead lawyers from New York lie that the bone scan technology was for use on Black children when they had been told by the makers and the manufacturer of the bone scan machine that it wasn’t to be used on human beings?” he asked.
He also asked if this meant the lawyers did not see Black children as human beings and if Black folks were no more than dollar signs.
“Why is it that most severely injured Flint children from drinking the poisoned water or their mammas or their daddies and aunties and grandmammas who drank the poisoned water when pregnant (and then) can’t just get paid without jumping through hoops?” Dumas asked.
In addition, Dumas asked why the court wasn’t asking the lawyers the tough questions about bone scan testing instead of rubber stamping everything that the New York lawyers bring to the court.
“Here we are in 2021-Black folks-an entire Black community-is being used as guinea pigs.”
Dumas asked Levy to throw out the lawsuit and start from the beginning.
1st Ward Councilman Eric Mays spoke second, saying he lost his mother during the Water Crisis.
You can look at a PBS Frontline Special called ‘Flint’s Deadly Water,’” Mays said. “You’ll see me in ‘Flint’s Deadly Water,’ but more importantly you’ll see Jassmine McBride. She allowed the cameras and for us to follow and look at her as she went through her tragic death as it relates to Legionnaires.’
McBride was one of the youngest victims of Legionnaires’ disease in Flint and died at age 30 from cardiac arrest. She was one of 90 people in the Flint area that the state said were sickened during a 2014-2015 outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease, according to PBS.org. The website said her physician, friends and family say it is impossible to ignore the links between her declining health and the “city’s fateful switch to the Flint River.”
Mays said he did not like the $1,000 cap per property (not including personal injury damages) because residents paid $2,000-$3,000 for water bills and residents lost hot water heaters.
Mays and other residents said they were dropped by counsel for having objections.
He said later he had been waiting for his attorneys to set him up for an appointment for the bone scan. He also said at the time he didn’t know people were saying it shouldn’t be used on humans.
Mays was part of a group that created an objection form.
“Don’t be tricked by the number of people who didn’t have an objection. There was no objection form.”
He said if there had been an objection form there would have been more objections.
Flint resident Diane Fletcher said she took for granted that Flint residents were going to be awarded enough to change their pipes from the sidewalk to their homes if they chose to.
“The lawyers and their children are going to enjoy that money that was supposed to be for the victims of the city of Flint, and we still have to suffer with the water,” she said.
Fletcher said the settlement would go down in history as one of the greatest steals from innocent helpless people by the lawyers.
Flint resident Claire McClinton said the state did not have a good record as far as fairness, justice and humanity. According to McClinton, the unsatisfactory record started with sending in the emergency manager, who made the decision to switch the water and included demanding the city of Flint be named as a defendant in the settlement, as what she called the “final insult.”
“We didn’t poison ourselves,” she said. “We shouldn’t be paying for this travesty, this disaster.”
McClinton told the judge she and others have asked for Medicare for all impacted residents.
She also brought Levy printed material the Flint Courier News published in 2020 about residents’ individual past and present experiences because of the Water Crisis. Levy said she would scan it and put it on the docket as an exhibit to McClinton’s presentation.