Judge upsets court schedule to speed up Flint water crisis trial

FLINT, MI – A federal judge has said she will allow more time for a civil trial related to the Flint water crisis starting next week, an effort to move faster as the case threatens to escalate. extend throughout the summer.

U.S. District Court Judge Judith E. Levy on Wednesday (May 25) said the trial of four Flint children who sued two water consultants for professional negligence will begin 30 minutes earlier and end 30 minutes later than it is. the case since the start of the trial in late February.

The case is seen as an indicator as it is the first to test the potential liability of consultancy firms in the water crisis.

“We need to complete this process,” Levy told attorneys for the children and the two companies, Veolia North America and Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam.

Starting Tuesday, May 31, the judge said, the water trial will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

The schedule change comes during the same week that Levy fired one of the 10 jurors originally chosen to hear the case after the juror tested positive for COVID-19, which put the trial on hold all but one. day last week.

Levy then said waiting for the jury was no longer an option, with the case already in its fourth month and the children’s lawyers still presenting their case.

After the children’s witnesses, Veolia and LAN will present their cases to the jury with 18 expert witnesses on their combined witness lists.

A lawyer for Veolia said this week that the company also plans to release a video deposition of former Governor Rick Snyder if he is not required to testify in person.

Snyder and others charged with crimes related to the water crisis have asked the U.S. Court of Appeals to overturn an order by Levy, requiring them to answer questions put to them during their statements to the jury.

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has scheduled oral arguments on that claim, but not until July 28.

Veolia said in a statement Wednesday that the landmark lawsuit could be over by the time that ruling is handed down, continuing “over eight years of utter failure to hold accountable those responsible for Flint’s water crisis.”

“We will continue to fight to ensure that the now indicted officials who caused and prolonged the crisis are brought before the jury, under oath, to testify,” the company statement said.

Snyder and the other criminal defendants listed as potential witnesses in the civil lawsuit want their subpoenas overturned, allowing them to not appear at trial because they intend to invoke their 5th Amendment right against the self-incrimination if forced to testify.

In the civil lawsuit, attorneys for the Flint children claim that Veolia and LAN were negligent in informing the city of Flint of its drinking water system during the water crisis, making them partially liable for injuries, including including brain damage, suffered by children.

The companies disputed the injuries claimed by the children and said government officials caused the water crisis and were liable for any related damages.

The companies opted to defend against the lawsuits against them rather than join a $626 million settlement reached between attorneys for Flint residents and the State of Michigan, City of Flint, Regional Hospital McLaren and Rowe Professional Services.

Read more on The Flint Journal:

Former Flint DPW boss saw evidence of lead contamination just months after Flint River switch

Owner of New Lothrop’s iconic Gracie’s Restaurant dies aged 85

Judge dismisses juror with COVID-19, says Flint water crisis trial can’t afford to delay any longer

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