Posted in News on August 21, 2017
Murphy, Falcon and Murphy attorney Nicholas Szokoly was recently quoted at length in an article for Black Press USA due to his heavy involvement with the ongoing class-action suit against the city of Flint, Michigan. Flint’s issues with contaminated water have been national news for some time now, and Attorney Szokoly has worked closely with the victims to attempt to find a successful legal solution to the issue.
Recently, the case took a turn for the better for Flint residents, as the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a federal court’s decision regarding two class-action lawsuits. The reversal has given new hope to residents of the city, who Nick Szokoly states are now being charged excessively for water they can’t even use. “A lot of our case deals with the fact that residents in Flint have been charged three-times the national rate for water, because the city is trying to balance their budget and these charges and fees come at the exact time that they couldn’t use the water,” he said in a statement to The Black Press.
He went on to further explain that residents were being threatened with liens on their homes and even foreclosure if they didn’t pay their bills, adding “That’s not America.”
Nick Szokoly stated: “The city told us they would issue a moratorium on collection actions that resulted in liens and foreclosure. For reasons that I still don’t quite understand, the state jumped in on the city’s behalf, so that didn’t go anywhere. We were in Flint getting ready to do a status conference and then we got emails that told us that the conference had been canceled and then the next day there was an order dismissing our case.”
However, a three-judge panel in the Court of Appeals overturned the lower court’s dismissal of the class-action suits that were filed on behalf of tens of thousands of Flint residents against Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, the city of Flint, and city officials involved in the decision to switch the city’s water source to the Flint River. The lower court’s decision stated that the Safe Drinking Water Act stopped the residents from seeking damages.
The original lawsuits were filed back in 2015 by Flint residents who suffered property damage and personal injury due to toxic lead leeching into the city’s water supply after the water source was switched. The reversal from the Court of Appeals now allows the plaintiffs, the victims of Flint’s water contamination issues, to seek relief from Governor Snyder, which may include compensation for education, medical monitoring, and more.
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is arguing that the latest round of testing showed that the water’s contamination levels are now within legal and federally-accepted standards, indicating that 90 percent of Tier I samples were at or below six parts per billion, less than half of the federal action standard of 15 parts per billion. In a press release, they stated “Flint’s water has tested well below standards for over a year,” while encouraging residents near construction projects to continue to air on the side of caution and use water filters.
However, this warning comes as the future of nine water distribution sites is now in jeopardy. MLive.com reports that “While the settlement guarantees the replacement of 18,000 lead and galvanized service lines, it also allows for community resource sites run by the state to start shutting down under certain circumstances.” This means Flint residents who depend on those water filters to avoid contracting lead poisoning and other serious health issues from their water may suddenly be unable to obtain these much-needed devices.
Nick Szokoly says political red-tape has dominated the case and made life difficult for Flint residents, but both he and Flint residents are dug in and ready for the long haul. “We will continue this fight. I don’t think we should rest until everyone gets every dollar back that they paid for water they can’t use. What happened in Flint was such a disaster and hard to compare to anything else.”
Nick Szokoly has worked closely with the residents of Flint to try to find a successful resolution to this issue, and remains committed to the case in the future. If you are struggling with a serious issue and would like to consider a class-action suit, discuss your case with the Baltimore trial attorneys at Murphy, Falcon & Murphy.
Contact us today by dialing (410) 951-8744 to discuss your legal options with one of our skilled team members!