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Energy, Telecommunications and Utilities and Government Services Law Alert - Plaintiffs Denied in Flint, Michigan, Water Lawsuit

On Feb. 2, a federal district judge dismissed a constitutional civil rights suit brought by residents of Flint, Michigan, seeking damages for lead-contaminated drinking water. In Melissa Mays, et al., Plaintiffs, v. Governor Rick Snyder, et al., Defendants, a class of Flint residents, the plaintiffs, brought claims against state and city officials alleging, among other federal claims, violations of substantive due process and equal protection under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 arising out of the contamination of drinking water in Flint. Plaintiffs also brought a state law claim arising under Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act.

U.S. District Judge John Corbett O’Meara dismissed the plaintiffs’ federal claims on the grounds that such claims were precluded by the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), saying “[t]he elaborate enforcement scheme of the SDWA…leads [the Court] to conclude that § 1983 claims seeking to remedy unsafe drinking water would be ‘inconsistent with Congress’ carefully tailored scheme.’” (The judge quoted Smith v. Robinson, which found the Education Handicapped Act provided the exclusive remedy even when plaintiffs asserted constitutional claims.)

For more information, contact the Barnes & Thornburg attorney with whom you work or one of the following: Nick Kile at Nicholas.Kile@btlaw.com or 317-231-7768; Hillary Close at Hillary.Close@btlaw.com or 317-231-7785; Parvin Price at Parvin.Price@btlaw.com or 317-231-7721; Lauren Box at Lauren.Box@btlaw.com or 317-231-7289; Charles Denton at Charles.Denton@btlaw.com or 616-742-3974; Fredric Andes at 312-214-8310 or Fredric.Andes@btlaw.com; or Erika Powers at 312-338-5904 or Erika.Powers@btlaw.com.

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This Barnes & Thornburg LLP publication should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances. The contents are intended for general informational purposes only, and you are urged to consult your own lawyer on any specific legal questions you may have concerning your situation.

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