New lawsuits filed against state, officials over Flint water crisis

FILE - In a Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016 file photo,Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder delivers his State of the State address to a joint session of the House and Senate, at the state Capitol in Lansing, Mich. (AP Photo/Al Goldis, File)

Two new lawsuits have been filed in connection with the Flint water crisis, each seeking at least $100 million in damages.

One suit was filed Tuesday against the State of Michigan and McLaren Flint Hospital over a Legionnaires' disease outbreak allegedly linked to contaminated water flowing through the city's pipes.

Detroit-area attorney Geoffrey Fieger filed the $100 million suit on behalf of residents who contracted the disease, including the family of a woman who died a week after going to the emergency room with a headache.

The attorney alleged that McLaren Flint Hospital knew about Legionella bacteria in the water for 17 months while patients continued to be exposed and dozens were diagnosed with illnesses.

The hospital president told the Associated Press in January that he suspected the city's water was the cause of the outbreak, but "to this day I don't think we could make a definitive statement."

"A hospital won't make money if it discloses a Legionnaires' outbreak from contaminated water, and a Governor will stop hearing whispers that he's being considered for higher office if he reveals a water and Legionnaire's crisis. We know what happened here," Fieger said in a statement.

According to the lawsuit, the state and the hospital did nothing to combat the outbreak or alert the public about the threat.

However. the hospital said in a statement last month that "there is no definitive data to support that McLaren Flint is the source of exposure for any patient testing positive for the Legionella antigen."

The suit was filed in Genesee County Circuit Court.

Another lawsuit filed this week in federal court seeks $150 million in refunds for Flint residents and businesses for water bills paid while the supply was coming from the Flint River. Baltimore law firm Murphy, Falcon & Murphy is seeking class action status for the suit.

The complaint alleges "gross negligence" by city and state officials in allowing untreated, corrosive water from the Flint River to flow through the city's pipes that they knew was "toxic, unsafe and not potable."

According to the court filing, government officials ignored complaints from Flint citizens about the color, smell, and taste of the water and falsely claimed that the water was safe.

The federal lawsuit names former Flint Mayor Dayne Walling, two former city emergency managers, Governor Rick Snyder, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services as defendants.

Responses have not yet been filed by the defendants in either suit.

The FBI announced this week that it is now getting involved in the investigation of the water crisis.

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