Racketeering lawsuit filed against Gov. Snyder, others for ‘unthinkable harm’

Photo via FlintWaterStudy.org
Photo via FlintWaterStudy.org

By Steve Neavling
Motor City Muckraker

Hundreds of Flint residents impacted by lead contamination of their drinking water have filed a racketeering lawsuit against Gov. Rick Snyder, his emergency managers and other state and local leaders.

Gov. Rick Snyder
Gov. Rick Snyder

The federal lawsuit alleges that Snyder and others devised a “wrongful scheme” to save money by tapping the Flint River for drinking water in April 2014, a decision that will negatively affect children and adults for generations.

“Governor Snyder participated in, directed, facilitated and directed the fiscal scheme to balance Flints budget through the sale of free but toxic Flint River water,” the suit reads. “Defendant Snyder violated clearly established constitutional rights of Plaintiffs and the putative class.”

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Flint, says the state should have invoked “time tested, well-honed federal bankruptcy protections for restructuring the debts of municipalities.”

The governor’s spokesman declined to comment.

The defendants in the suit include Snyder, the state of Michigan, the city’s former emergency managers, the Department of Environmental Quality, the Department of Health and Human Services, numerous other state officials, the city of Flint and several consultants.

“The MDEQ failed to require corrosion control for Flint River water in violation of the federal Lead and Copper Rule, misled the federal EPA, conducted illegal and improper sampling of Flint’s water, lied to the public about the safety of Flint’s water, and attempted to publicly discredit outside individuals that offered evidence of the water’s contamination,” the suit reads. “MDEQ, through its agents, servants and employees, was an integral actor in an enterprise that defrauded, misrepresented and falsified information and warning signs relating to the property and financial affairs of Flint as it affected its citizenry.”

The state’s actions created “unthinkable harm” to Flint residents.

Opponents of Snyder are collecting signatures to recall the governor, who finally decided in October 2015 to switch back to Detroit’s water.

E-mails and other records show the state was warned of the dangers of using the Flint River and failed to act until public pressure became insurmountable.

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.