Case: Brown v. Snyder

17-000291-MZ | Michigan state trial court

Filed Date: Nov. 2, 2017

Closed Date: Aug. 3, 2022

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On November 2, 2017, five residents of Flint, MI filed this lawsuit in the Michigan Court of Claims. The plaintiffs sued the State of Michigan and state employees for personal injuries and property damage arising out of the Flint Water Crisis under Michigan state law. Represented by private counsel, the plaintiffs sought declaratory relief, injunctive relief requiring the remediation of harm caused to plaintiffs, monitoring, compensatory damages, punitive damages, and attorneys’ fees and costs.…

On November 2, 2017, five residents of Flint, MI filed this lawsuit in the Michigan Court of Claims. The plaintiffs sued the State of Michigan and state employees for personal injuries and property damage arising out of the Flint Water Crisis under Michigan state law. Represented by private counsel, the plaintiffs sought declaratory relief, injunctive relief requiring the remediation of harm caused to plaintiffs, monitoring, compensatory damages, punitive damages, and attorneys’ fees and costs.

This is one of many cases arising out of the Flint Water Crisis. The plaintiffs claimed that city and state officials chose to use the Flint River as a primary source of water for residents in Flint, despite knowing that the water was unsafe for consumption. Specifically, the plaintiffs alleged that Flint officials began using water from the Flint River in 2013, despite multiple environmental studies conducted in 2011 and 2012 warning against it.

The plaintiffs initially filed in the Michigan Court of Claims, where the case was first assigned to Judge Cynthia Diane Stephens and then immediately reassigned to Judge Christopher M. Murray. The defendants removed the case to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan on February 28, 2018. The defendants supplied two bases for federal jurisdiction: first, that they qualified as federal officers because the Environmental Protection Agency controlled their operations; and second, that they acted under federal statutes and rules including the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Surface Water Treatment Rule, and the Lead and Copper Rule. The case was originally assigned to Judge John Corbett O’Meara and quickly reassigned to Judge Judith E. Levy, who handled most of the cases related to the Flint water crisis. The plaintiffs moved to remand the case to state court.

The court remanded the case a series of related orders. First, on March 29, 2018, Judge Levy determined that the Sixth Circuit’s decision in Mays v. City of Flint foreclosed the defendants’ argument that they were eligible for federal officer removal. 2018 WL 10705454. In the same order, Judge Levy expressed concern at exercising jurisdiction over a state-law claim based only on “general[] references” to federal law and directed the defendants to show cause why the case should not be remanded. Then, on April 3, 2018, the court granted a stipulated order remanding the cases against defendants who served as emergency managers in Flint. Finally, on April 17, 2018, Judge Levy remanded the remaining claims. 2018 WL 11148405. Judge Levy wrote that under Nappier v. Snyder, removal based on a substantial federal question required the unanimous consent of all defendants, which did not exist in this case as to the defendants who stipulated to remand.

The defendants appealed on May 10, 2018. They soon recognized that binding Sixth Circuit precedent foreclosed their appeal absent action by the Supreme Court on Nappier or further developments in Waid v. Snyder, a consolidated case involving federal class actions arising from the Flint Water crisis. The parties stipulated to a voluntary dismissal on July 6, 2018.

The case then resumed in state court. The court (Judge Christopher Murray) denied the defendants’ motion for summary disposition on July 10, 2018. Various defendants appealed to the Michigan Court of Appeals (Case nos. 344857, 344859, and 344862), arguing that they enjoyed governmental immunity. These appeals were later consolidated into one.

The parties continued to litigate the case in the state trial court. However, in September 2019, the case was held in abeyance as the parties discussed settlement in federal district court. In addition, the parties filed a joint motion to stay the proceedings pending the finalization of a settlement, which was granted on December 3, 2020.

On December 16, 2021, the state court consolidated this case with other similar cases. The case was also reassigned to Judge Thomas C. Cameron.

On November 10, 2021, Judge Levy approved a settlement in the federal cases about the Flint Water Crisis, in which Michigan agreed to create a $600 million settlement fund against which Flint residents and businesses could make claims. As part of the settlement, the parties agreed to dismiss related cases in federal and state court. This case was dismissed with prejudice in the state court on April 20, 2022. In addition, on August 3, 2022, the parties dismissed the appeal in the state court.

This case is now closed.

Summary Authors

Olivia Vigiletti (11/12/2019)

Venesa Haska (3/22/2024)

Related Cases

Waid v. Snyder (In re Flint Water Cases), Eastern District of Michigan (2016)

People


Judge(s)
Attorney for Plaintiff
Attorney for Defendant

Barbieri, Charles E. (Michigan)

Bolton, Jordan S. (Michigan)

Burdick, James W. (Michigan)

Cafferty, Michael S. (Michigan)

Expert/Monitor/Master/Other

Burns, Shawna (Michigan)

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Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

5:18-cv-10699

Docket [PACER]

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan

May 11, 2018

May 11, 2018

Docket

17-000291-MZ

Docket [Michigan Court of Claims]

July 22, 2019

July 22, 2019

Docket
1-2

5:18-cv-10699

17-000291-MZ

Summons and Complaint

Feb. 28, 2018

Feb. 28, 2018

Complaint
1

5:18-cv-10699

Joint Notice of Removal

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan

Feb. 28, 2018

Feb. 28, 2018

Pleading / Motion / Brief
9

5:18-cv-10699

Order to Show Cause Why This Case Should Not be Remanded for Lack of Subject-Matter Jurisdiction

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan

March 29, 2018

March 29, 2018

Order/Opinion
14

5:18-cv-10699

Order Granting Stipulation to Remand all Claims Against Emergency Manager Defendants to the Michigan Court of Claims

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan

April 3, 2018

April 3, 2018

Order/Opinion
31

5:18-cv-10699

Order Vacating Order to Show Cause and Remanding Case to the Michigan Court of Claims

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan

April 17, 2018

April 17, 2018

Order/Opinion
38

5:18-cv-10699

Amended Final Judgment and Order of Dismissal with Prejudice Implementing Partial Settlement Pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(b) and 58(a) [2077]

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan

March 9, 2022

March 9, 2022

Order/Opinion

Docket

Last updated Aug. 30, 2023, 3:27 p.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

Case Details

State / Territory: Michigan

Case Type(s):

Public Benefits/Government Services

Special Collection(s):

Flint Water Cases

Multi-LexSum (in sample)

Key Dates

Filing Date: Nov. 2, 2017

Closing Date: Aug. 3, 2022

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Five residents of Flint affected by contaminated water.

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Public Interest Lawyer: No

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

Governor of Michigan, State

Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, State

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, State

Defendant Type(s):

Sanitation/Public Works

Jurisdiction-wide

Hospital/Health Department

Case Details

Causes of Action:

State law

Available Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Non-settlement Outcome

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: None Yet / None

Nature of Relief:

None

Source of Relief:

None

Issues

General/Misc.:

Access to public accommodations - governmental

Public benefits (includes, e.g., in-state tuition, govt. jobs)