Flint citizens filed class action lawsuits in both federal and state court for damages caused by the water crisis.
In federal court, they brought claims that the malfeasance of government officials violated their constitutional rights. The district judge dismissed the federal lawsuit, ruling that the residents’ constitutional claims were preempted by the federal Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). On appeal, the ACLU of Michigan and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the Sixth Circuit arguing that Congress never intended to strip citizens of the right to seek a remedy under the Constitution when it enacted the SDWA.
In July 2017, the Sixth Circuit agreed with the ACLU and reinstated the federal damages cases.
(Mays v. Snyder; ACLU Attorneys Michael J. Steinberg and Bonsitu Kitaba-Gaviglio; Dimple Chaudhary, Sarah Tallman, and Jared Knicley of NRDC.)