Lansing— A divided Michigan Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that a class action lawsuit by Flint homeowners against previous Gov. Rick Snyder and state departments might continue regardless of the federal government defendants' bid to block it.
The state's high court ruled 4-2 that Flint homeowners' attempt to recover the value of property that had been supposedly improperly taken could continue through an inverted condemnation claim. And the court ruled 3-3 that their claim of a violation of physical integrity could continue, allowing a Court of Appeals decision to stand.
Flint local and neighborhood activist Melissa Mays, center, the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Phaedra Parks during the march. (Photo: Bryan Mitchell, Special to Detroit News) Justice Beth Clement, a GOP candidate who worked for Snyder, did not take part in the case. The lead complainant, Melissa Mays, and other Flint locals alleged that state officials and two state-appointed emergency situation managers understood that the Flint River water was poisonous before authorizing its usage for residents, setting off a lead contamination water crisis.
Nevertheless, the state has maintained that the January 2016 suit didn't comply with a six-month deadline after the occasion giving rise to the fit. The water switch occurred in April 2014.
It is too soon to tell whether the complainants stopped working to meet the due date, composed Justice Richard Bernstein, a Democratic candidate, ahead viewpoint. Bernstein said it would be just “illogical” to block the suit if a “complainant had been exposed to the Flint water in the womb and thus suffered damage but had not yet been born since April 2014.”
“At this stage of litigation, it is not yet clear when complainants suffered actionable injury as a result of their usage and consumption of the infected water; simply put, it remains uncertain whether the accidents alleged would have taken place after just one sip of Flint River water.”
The complainants' claims about state authorities' actions amounted to “more than a negligent choice,” he composed.
“Plaintiffs' claims, if true, are so outright and outrageous that they shock the contemporary conscience and support a finding of defendants' deliberate indifference to complainants' health and safety,” Bernstein composed.
Bernstein was joined by the other 2 Democratic nominees, Chief Justice Bridget McCormack and Megan Cavanagh.
Justice David Viviano, a Republican candidate, concurred with the three justices' finding on the inverse-condemnation claim. However he disagreed with the finding on the bodily integrity claim.
Viviano wrote that due procedure doesn't encompass a right “to be safeguarded from direct exposure to polluted water.” He also composed that he does not believe the complainants' allegations fulfilled the bar of “conscience shocking.”
“While hindsight reveals that defendants' decision to switch Flint's water source has had awful consequences, I do not think that complainants have shown that offenders were deliberately indifferent in their decision to provide Flint locals with an alternative water source,” Viviano composed.
Justices Brian Zahra and Stephen Markman– 2 other Republican nominees– dissented, stating the plaintiffs stopped working to meet state law's deadline for filing the fit.
The plaintiffs submitted their fit on Jan. 21, 2016. Markman, who wrote the dissenting opinion, said they ought to have filed within six months of the event triggering the suit. The supply of water switch occurred on April 25, 2014, he stated, making the action “untimely.”
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