In what the Court of Appeals describes as “the infamous government-created environmental disaster known at the Flint Water Crisis,” a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has ruled that some of the government personnel responsible for this disaster may be liable, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, for monetary damages based on the Substantive Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. The case is Guertin, et al., v. State of Michigan, et al., decided on January 4, 2019.
On April 25, 2014, the City of Flint, MI, facing a financial crisis, agreed to switch its drinking water supply from the water provided by the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department to untreated water available from the Flint River that would be treated in the waterworks owned and operated by the City. However, the City waterworks could not provide the needed treatment, which resulted in the corrosive Flint River water leaching lead out of the old Flint water pipes. Soon thereafter, a public health and environmental crisis enveloped Flint. Many lawsuits have been filed against many defendants, and many civil and criminal investigations have been opened.