FLINT, MI – Just steps outside the courtroom where Flint residents object to the Michigan fairness case, Flint Water, protesters held a press conference to argue that lawyers are taking too much settlement money.
Michigan Lawsuit Abuse Watch President Robert Dorigo Jones organized the rally on July 13 to denounce lawyers representing Flint residents for defeating 32 percent of a groundbreaking settlement of $ 641 million totaled approximately $ 202 million.
Lawyers in this type of class action should be entitled to 15 to 20 percent of the settlement, but not 32 percent, argued Jones.
“This would be the largest payout to lawyers in Michigan’s history,” he said. “It’s not fair to the people of Flint, and it’s not fair to the people of Michigan. We are talking about historical monetary numbers. “
The settlement at Flint Waterfall is the highest in the state’s history, state officials said. Jones called the 32 percent who went to lawyers a “money robbery.”
Former Flint Mayor Karen Weaver, a well-known critic of the settlement, spoke at the press conference and said she wanted to “save her energy” for her opportunity in court on Tuesday afternoon.
The Flint Water Settlement fairness hearings continued on Tuesday, July 13, the second day after objections to bone scans dominated the conversation on the first day.
Related: Bone Scan Debate Dominates Day One of Fairness Hearing for Settling the Flint Water Crisis
“I want everything I have to say to be on record in the courtroom,” said Weaver. “I want my points to be heard. When I heard them say yesterday that this was fair, reasonable, and appropriate, I said it was unfair, unreasonable, and inappropriate. “
Frank Bednarz, an attorney who represents three Flint residents for free, argued that the bone scan tests were introduced to allow lawyers representing Flint to use the results to make more money from the settlement. Bone scan testing has been a constant point of contention in this case.
Bednarz and Jones argued that this money should go back to the innocent residents who became victims when Flint’s water source was switched from Detroit to the Flint River, causing the crisis that followed.
“We are talking about people who were affected in childhood,” said Bednarz. “It created developmental problems that will affect you all your life.”
Bednarz and Jones made it clear that the press conference and their partners object not to the settlement itself, but to the amount of dollars that lawyers are drawing from the settlement.
Jones protested a settlement clause prohibiting Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel from speaking out against any portion of the settlement hearings.
“We will not be silent,” said Jones. “Why would the attorney general, who speaks about virtually every legal topic on the news, agree to gag herself and her office? It makes no sense.”
A statement by Nessel, released in the Settlement Notes on Monday in support of the state, read: “For me as the attorney general, one of the top priorities was to provide relief to the people of Flint after unimaginable hardships.”
“I am proud of the tireless work that has brought us to this point in the settlement process. Our state owes the people of Flint a path to healing, not a lengthy legal back-and-forth. I continue to hope that this agreement will be finally approved to get us all on that path, ”she said. “We recognize that no amount of money will ever undo the damage done, but this comparison should serve as a reminder of our commitment to the people of Flint, the city and their future.”
The fairness hearing, which will continue on Thursday, July 15, will be the final step before U.S. District Court judge Judith Levy finally approves the settlement agreement. The judge can disprove the amount of legal fees, Jones said.
Levy gave preliminary approval for the settlement in January. More than 50,000 people claiming to have been harmed by the city’s water crisis have made claims for damages.
Almost 80 percent of the comparison – after legal fees – is paid to children under 18 who were exposed for the first time in 2014 and 2015 to the waters of the Flint River, which contained elevated levels of lead and bacteria.
Fairness hearings to resolve the Flint water crisis are due to begin next week
The Flint pediatrician, who blew the whistle on the water crisis, won’t recommend bone scans for children
Recent victims of the Flint water crisis receive 80 percent of the historic $ 600 million settlement