The Michigan attorney general said on Wednesday his office has sued two engineering services companies for negligence for their involvement in the city of Flint's water crisis that exposed residents to dangerously high lead levels in drinking water.
The Michigan attorney general said on Wednesday his office has sued two engineering services companies for negligence for their involvement in the city of Flint’s water crisis that exposed residents to dangerously high lead levels in drinking water.
Attorney General Bill Schuette said at a news conference in Flint that the civil lawsuit was filed in Genesee County Circuit Court against French company Veolia Environnement SA and Houston-based Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam (LAN).
The lawsuit charged Veolia with professional negligence and fraud that caused Flint’s the lead poisoning to continue and worsen, and LAN with professional negligence.
Schuette said the state is seeking damages from the companies that could total hundreds of millions of dollars.
“Many things went tragically wrong in Flint, and both criminal conduct and civil conduct caused harm to the families of Flint and to the taxpayers of Michigan,” Schuette said in a statement. “In Flint, Veolia and LAN were hired to do a job and failed miserably. Their fraudulent and dangerous recommendations made a bad situation worse.”
Officials with the two firms did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Flint, with a population of about 100,000, was under control of a state-appointed emergency manager in 2014 when it switched its water source from Detroit’s municipal system to the Flint River to save money. The city switched back in October.
The river water was more corrosive than the Detroit system’s and caused more lead to leach from its aging pipes. Lead can be toxic, and children are especially vulnerable. The crisis has prompted lawsuits by parents who say their children have shown dangerously high levels of lead in their blood.
Last month Michael Glasgow, a Flint utilities administrator agreed to cooperate in investigations as part of a deal with prosecutors. He pleaded no contest to willful neglect of duty, a misdemeanor, and won dismissal of a more serious felony charge of tampering with evidence.
Two state employees have been charged by Schuette’s office, and the attorney general reaffirmed on Wednesday that other employees would be charged as his investigation continues.
In January, Schuette named a special prosecutor to lead the investigation into whether criminal charges should be filed.