On Friday, September 2nd, special prosecutor Todd Flood and Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton stated that they expect additional criminal charges to be filed regarding the water crisis in Flint, MI.
Back in 2014, officials of the Department of Environmental Quality allowed the city to change its water source to the Flint River without requiring the water to be treated to make it less corrosive. Between 2014 and 2015 at least twelve people died as a result of Legionnaires’ disease, an infection caused by Legionella bacteria found in water systems, suggesting a possible correlation between the change in the city’s water source and the Legionnaires’ outbreak.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (“DHHS”) has requested access to documents from McLaren-Flint hospital by the Appeals Court. This hospital was utilized in many of the confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ disease after the city changed its water source. However, Judge Geoffrey Neithercut of the Genesee County Circuit Court issued protective orders blocking DHHS from any information that may be associated with the continuing criminal investigations led by Flood and Leyton. These protective orders would instead give the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention the jurisdiction to analyze the Legionella issue, to best ensure an unbiased and independent investigation. However, DHHS is arguing that the protective orders are preventing it from doing its job of guarding the public’s health.
E-mail evidence shows that state health officials knew for over a year that the change in the city’s water source and the Legionnaires’ outbreak might be connected. Nevertheless, they did not inform Gov. Rick Snyder or the public about such suspicions. So far eight current or former state employees as well as one city employee have been charged with crimes relative to their roles in allowing the water crisis to develop.
Jules Zacher is an attorney in Philadelphia who has tried Legionnaires’ disease cases across the U.S. Please visit LegionnaireLawyer.com for updates to this post or for more information on Legionnaires’ disease.