Maybe they’ll have to drink the water?By
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has even more legal trouble coming his way:
A federal racketeering lawsuit by hundreds of resident in Flint, Michigan, is alleging the city’s two-year water crisis was the result of an“intentional scheme” crafted by state officials and Michigan’s governor, Rick Snyder, to balance the city’s budget.
In a press conference announcing the 17-count racketeer influenced and corrupt organizations (Rico) complaint on Wednesday, attorneys said the state of Michigan ran Flint’s day-to-day operations through an emergency manager, who prioritized balancing the city’s budget through a cost-cutting measure: switching Flint’s water source in April 2014 from Lake Huron, which serviced the city for more than 50 years, to a local river.
With adults and children essentially poisoned by lead, a neurotoxin, the damages could go on “for generations,” said attorneys about the suit filed in U.S. District Court in Flint.
The attorneys asserted that the legal doctrine of governmental immunity will not be an issue in the Rico case, as the numerous state officials have been named as defendants individually – not in their official capacity. The attorneys declined to estimate the possible financial damages associated with the lawsuit, but said repayment for water bills alone to Flint residents could exceed $50m. Appropriate damages determined by the court will be tripled, as stipulated under civil Rico statute, said [attorney Chet] Kern.
The lawsuit also requests a jury and seeks compensatory damages for future medical costs and legal fees, and treble damages for property damages, loss of business and financial loss.
The suit alleges mail fraud and wire fraud by officials for mailing bills and accepting payments for what they knew was a toxic product:
The case is the first time the RICO Act has been used in a lawsuit regarding the city’s water crisis.
The RICO act, most notably used to take on the mafia in criminal cases, has targeted everything from the Gambino Family to the Hells Angels. However, it can also be used civilly by citizens to try and recoup damages for wrongdoing.
The Detroit Free Press reports:
Along with Snyder, the suit names as defendants the state of Michigan; the departments of Environmental Quality and Health and Human Services; and a number of state officials, along with emergency managers whom Snyder appointed to oversee the city. Also named are the city of Flint, two of its utility officials and three consulting companies that advised them.
How’s that “reinventing Michigan” working for ya?
(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)