Monday, March 22, 2021

Controversy over attorneys fees and former Governor Snyder still facing charges in Flint Water Crisis court cases for World Water Day 2021

Happy World Water Day! My pattern is that I cover the Flint Water Crisis during odd-numbered years and this year is no exception. I begin with WXYZ's Attorneys submit proposed fees and get criticized in massive $641 million Flint water settlement.

Federal District Judge Judith Levy has been given a 416-page proposal to pay dozens of attorneys in the Flint water crisis combined civil lawsuits.
I'm not going to muster any outrage over this proposal. As the expert WXYZ interviewed pointed out, attorneys fees of 25-33% of a settlement are normal. Also, as Melissa Mays pointed out, at least some of the attorneys deserve their full fees. Without the lawyers' work, the plaintiffs would have little or no money to compensate them for their injuries. That written, at least some legislators are doing what they can to limit the fees so that plaintiffs can receive more, as MLive reported in State House resolution asks judge to limit attorney fees in Flint water crisis settlement.
Flint area members of the Michigan House of Representative have introduced a resolution urging a federal court judge to limit attorney fees related to a $641-million proposed partial settlement of lawsuits related to the city’s water crisis.

State Reps. David Martin, Mike Mueller, John Cherry Jr., Cynthia Neeley and Ben Frederick introduced the resolution Thursday, March 18, and Cherry said in a news release that attorneys for Flint residents should be limited to 10 percent of the settlement rather than the more than 30 percent they are seeking.

“I have lived in the city for about a decade now,” Cherry said. “I’ve seen my neighbors and friends get hurt. To see the attorneys ... ask for such a large cut really bothers me.”

The policy resolution is an indication that the legislators don’t have legal authority to lower the fee request but want to express the opinion of members of the state House, Cherry said.

U.S. District Judge Judith E. Levy must decide on the motion for fees and expenses, which would drain the settlement fund of more than $200 million before it can be distributed to those who were harmed by Flint water when it contained elevated levels of lead, bacteria and chlorination byproducts.
As the article states, the legislature is merely trying to make a request; it's entirely up to Judge Levy to make the decision. When she does, I'll tell my readers about it.

MLive's article concluded with a caveat about the settlement.
Even if the proposed settlement is given preliminary approval later this year, the water crisis lawsuits will continue against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, city water consultants and bond companies involved in setting up financing for the Karegnondi Water Authority.
Looks like I'll be updating my readers about the lawsuits for years to come.

I've also been updating my readers on the prosecution of state officials involved in the Flint Water Crisis once a month. WDIV/Click On Detroit has the latest on that story in Charges to move forward against ex-Gov. Snyder in Flint water crisis.

A judge...rejected a request to dismiss misdemeanor charges against Rick Snyder Thursday in the Flint water crisis.
I fully expect Snyder's attorneys will file that appeal, which will delay trial for quite a while. I'm not worried. As I first wrote two years ago, "The wheels of justice are grinding slowly in this case, but I expect they will indeed grind exceedingly fine."

Of course, the reason for the lawsuits and prosecutions is the damage lead in Flint's water did to its residents. "60 Minutes" covered that in The legacy of the Flint water crisis.*

Six years ago, lead seeped into the tap water in Flint, Michigan, while state and local officials said everything was fine. Now, the same doctor who proved something was wrong is taking the first comprehensive look at the thousands of kids exposed to lead in Flint. Sharyn Alfonsi reports.
I am glad to feature Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha again. She has been a real hero to the people of Flint, especially its children.

That's it for World Water Day. Stay tuned for statistics of the tenth year of this blog.

*Last year, I wrote that I might feature the PBS 'Nova' episode "Poisoned Water" in a future post. To that, I can add a "Frontline" episode about Flint's water, which I expect will earn a News and Documentary Emmy Award nomination or two later this year.

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