"Hemos hecho historia": Las víctimas de la crisis del agua de Flint recibirán un acuerdo de $ 626 millones

Un juez federal aprobó un acuerdo de $ 626 millones para las víctimas de la crisis del agua con plomo en Flint, Michigan, en un caso presentado por decenas de miles de habitantes afectados por el agua contaminada.

Announcing the settlement on Tuesday, district judge Judith Levy called it a “remarkable achievement” that “sets forth a comprehensive compensation program and timeline that is consistent for every qualifying participant”.

Most of the money will come from the state of Michigan, which was accused of repeatedly overlooking the risks of using the Flint River without properly treating the water.

“This is a historic and momentous day for the residents of Flint, who will finally begin to see justice served,” said Ted Leopold, one of the lead attorneys in the litigation.

A principios de este año, the judge gave preliminary approval to a partial settlement of lawsuits filed by victims of the water crisis against the state.

Flint’s troubles began in 2014 after the city switched its water supply to the Flint River from Lake Huron to cut costs. Corrosive river water caused lead to leach from pipes, contaminating the drinking water and causing an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease.

los Flint water crisis was one of the country’s worst public health crises in recent memory. The case became emblematic of racial inequality in the United States as it afflicted a city of about 100,000 gente, more than half of whom are African-Americans.

The contamination prompted several lawsuits from parents who said their children were showing dangerously high blood levels of lead, which can cause development disorders. Lead can be toxic and children are especially vulnerable.

The former Michigan governor Rick Snyder was charged in January with two counts of willful neglect of duty over the lead-poisoning of Flint’s drinking water.

Payouts from the settlement approved on Wednesday will be made based on a formula that directs more money to younger claimants and to those who can prove greater injury. Michigan’s attorney general has previously said that the settlement would rank as the largest in the state’s history.

“Although this is a significant victory for Flint, we have a ways to go in stopping Americans from being systematically poisoned in their own homes, escuelas, and places of work,” said Corey Stern, a counsel for the plaintiffs, in a statement after the judge’s order on Wednesday.

The judge said it was “remarkable” that more than half of Flint’s 81,000 residents have signed up for a share of the settlement. It’s not clear just how much each child will receive.

Flint resident Melissa Mays, a 43-year-old social worker, said her three sons have had medical problems and learning challenges due to lead.

“Hopefully it’ll be enough to help kids with tutors and getting the medical care they need to help them recover from this,” Mays said. “A lot of this isn’t covered by insurance. These additional needs, they cost money.”

She considers the settlement a win.

“We’ve made history,” Mays said, “and hopefully it sets a precedent to maybe don’t poison people. It costs more in the long run.”

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