Friday, June 17, 2016

Michigan Governor Wants Flint Water Trial Removed from Federal Court
By Jim Caton
Jun 16, 2016

Michigan Governor Wants Flint Water Trial Removed from Federal Court

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and fellow defendants requested Tuesday that a federal judge remand to state court a complaint alleged against them on behalf of a proposed class of minor children who have suffered brain damage from exposure to lead from Flint’s drinking water.

The suit, filed by parent Tamara Nappier on behalf of her daughter, is one of dozens brought by and on behalf Flint residents who allege they have suffered damages due to the contamination of Flint’s water.

Flint’s water crisis began in April of 2014 when the city switched its water supply to the badly polluted and corrosive Flint River. Almost immediately, residents began complaining of discolored and foul-smelling and -tasting water. Testing showed that the corrosive water was causing lead from service pipes to leach into tap water. Lead is a toxin that can cause irreversible brain and nerve damage, especially in children.

In the intervening months, testimony and released documents have revealed a pattern of neglect and denial on the part of Snyder’s administration, the state’s Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) and even the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Now angry residents are demanding accountability on the part of those individuals responsible for the water crisis and for the attempt to cover it up. At the top of that list, for many who are bringing lawsuits, is Governor Snyder.

In her suit, Nappier is seeking compensatory and exemplary damages from three sets of defendants: Snyder and members of his administration, employees of MDEQ, and the emergency managers who oversaw the change of Flint’s water source. Snyder is seeking to remand the claims against him to state court, arguing that Nappier’s suit fails to take into account his immunity.

Snyder is referring to so-called “sovereign immunity.” Traditionally the immunity that heads of state have enjoyed from suits brought by foreigners, in American law a string of cases dealing with the 11th Amendment to the Constitution awards this immunity to federal and state officials acting in their official capacity.

Snyder and the other state defendants also argue that the federal should decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the defendants in their personal capacities, claiming that applying Michigan’s Governmental Tort Liability Act is a “complex issue of state law” and further that a trial under such jurisdiction would result in parallel proceedings if the other claims were remanded to state court.

“Aside from unfairly giving the plaintiff two bites of the same apple at the same time, this result would increase costs, generate confusion and potentially create conflicting rulings,” the governor’s brief states.

Source: “Mich. Gov. Wants Flint Class Claims Sent to State Court”

No comments: