NAACP Sues Michigan Officials Over Flint Water Crisis

Thursday, May 19, 2016

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has filed a federal class action lawsuit over the Flint water crisis, according to a press release published on the NAACP website yesterday.

Both Flint residents and members of the local branch of the NAACP in Flint, Michigan are plaintiffs, according to the news release, and they are "property damages, pain and suffering damages, emotional distress damages, medical monitoring, and other injunctive relief for affected city residents and businesses to be determined by the court."

According to the press release, the complaint alleges that "the officials and companies supervising the water system failed to properly treat the water supply for salt and other chemicals, which caused lead to leech from corroded pipes into the drinking water for years. Officials repeatedly denied and dismissed reports of poor water quality and pipe corrosion before acknowledging widespread failures to act."

Gov. Rick Snyder is named as an individual defendant, along with six former officials with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, and three men who were emergency managers at the time of the crisis, according to the news release. Two engineering firms hired to evaluate water quality are named as well.

"The people of Flint have been harmed through the failure of state officials to provide professional and accountable basic services mandated by federal law and expected by any person living in a major city," Cornell William Brooks, the national president and CEO of the NAACP, said in a statement.

"Our organization stands with the citizens of Flint to demand a clear timeline, deadline and price tag for fixing this crisis as well as effective remedies for the harms that have already occurred and complete compensation for each and every victim of this unimaginable tragedy," Brooks continued.

Gov. Snyder did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment.

Three of the named defendants include Michael Prysby, Michael Glasgow and Stephen Busch, the three officials who were criminally charged in connection with the Flint water crisis. Prysby's lawyer did not offer a comment on the NAACP case and Busch's lawyer could not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment. Both have pleaded not guilty to the criminal charges against them.

Glasgow's lawyer, Robert Harrison, told ABC News today that his client is cooperating with authorities in the criminal case with the understanding that the case against him will be dismissed.

As to the his client being named as a defendant in the NAACP class action lawsuit, Harrison says, "I can't comment on the substance of the allegations because I have not seen the lawsuit nor have I discussed it with Mr. Glasgow, but I do have what I think is a very complete understanding of what I think occurred in this case and what Mr. Glasgow did or didn't do, and I am convinced that not only did he do nothing wrong, and that actually hopefully not overstating it, he was heroic in his actions and I think that once the plaintiffs come to the understanding of the case, that they will voluntarily dismiss the case against him."

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