Michigan is expected to file criminal charges against former Governor Rick Snyder, a former director of Michigan’s health department and others following a new investigation of the Flint water scandal, according to the Associated Press. New criminal charges would be a major development in a state investigation that restarted in 2019 after prior charges were dropped and a fresh probe began.
Attorney Corey Stern represents about 3,000 children poisoned by Flint’s water and helped negotiate a $641 million settlement for residents in civil litigation in a lawsuit brought against the state of Michigan, the city of Flint, McLaren-Flint Hospital and a local engineering firm. He says it is possible that officials could face felonies.
“What charges in particular, I don’t know. I would not be shocked if there were manslaughter charges,” Stern says. “I also would not be shocked if there weren’t.”
The water crisis began in 2014 when the city switched its water supply to the Flint River. Thousands of residents were exposed to lead-contaminated water in the majority-Black city. At least 12 people died during an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease.
Stern says new criminal charges could open the door to future litigation against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
“The fact that the governor of Michigan is being charged criminally for his role in what happened to the folks in Flint — people in the EPA should be feeling some significant heat, not just on the criminal side necessarily, but on the civil side,” Stern says. “If they found potential criminal liability on behalf of governmental actors, the EPA should be extremely concerned at a minimum about civil liabilities.”
A spokesperson with Michigan’s attorney general says the office is “working diligently” to bring the investigation to a close and will share more information when in a position to do so.