Federal Court Gives Green Light to Flint Drinking Water Case

Motions to dismiss case filed by City of Flint, State of Michigan are rejected

DETROIT – A federal judge today signaled that the first Safe Drinking Water Act case on the Flint water crisis could proceed over protests from the City of Flint and the Michigan state officials. Following are quotes from groups involved with the litigation:

“Unbelievably, Flint's tap water is still not safe to drink more than two years after this crisis began. Now that the Court has rejected these first attempts by the City and state officials to dismiss our lawsuit, we’re focused on moving forward as quickly as possible to help secure safe drinking water in Flint,” said Dimple Chaudhary, Senior Attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council.

“Safe drinking water is a right currently being denied to the people of Flint. We are ready to move ahead with our case so we can get lead out of our water and ensure that the children and families of Flint have safe water to drink in the future,” said Pastor Allen Overton of Concerned Pastors for Social Action.

“We’re elated that the court has rebuffed efforts by state and city officials to skirt their legal and moral duty to provide Flint residents with safe drinking water,” said Michael J. Steinberg, Legal Director of the ACLU of Michigan. “State-appointed emergency managers and other government officials poisoned the people of Flint and there is still no plan to replace the lead pipes. We desperately need this citizens’ lawsuit to force the government to fix this disaster and force the government to comply with the Safe Drinking Water Act.”

2016 Flint Safe Drinking Water Case Timeline:

  • January 27 - Concerned Pastors for Social Action, Flint resident Melissa Mays, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the ACLU of Michigan filed a lawsuit in the Eastern District of Michigan alleging violations of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act and seeking federal court intervention to secure safe drinking water for the people of Flint.
  • March 24 - The groups filed a motion for preliminary injunction, asking the court to direct the delivery of bottled water to people’s homes, as many Flint residents cannot obtain water for their daily needs due to transportation or other access issues.
  • May 13 - Arguments against the motions to dismiss presented to U.S. District Court Judge David M. Lawson.


The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 2 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City; Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles; San Francisco; Chicago; Bozeman, Montana; and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC

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