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Families Seek Class-Action Status In Federal Lawsuit Over Flint's Water

Seven families are part of a new federal lawsuit that seeks class-action status in Flint, Mich. Here, signs warn not to drink lead-contaminated water from a water fountain at a church in the city earlier this year.

Attorneys representing seven families who've been affected by lead-poisoned water in Flint, Mich., filed a lawsuit Monday that cites federal environmental laws and seeks class-action status for what they call wide-reaching negligence.

Attorney Hunter Shkolnik says the court papers were filed this morning, and that the suit eventually could include the estimated 8,000 young people who may have been exposed to lead-tinged water in Flint. The suit cites the Safe Drinking Water Act and other federal laws, Shkolnik says.

This isn't the first litigation to be filed over the water crisis in Flint.

Since last fall, at least three other lawsuits have been filed over Flint's water. One of the first, filed in November, accused local and state officials of reckless behavior that infringed on water customers' constitutional rights. The plaintiffs in that case include several Flint families and activist Melissa Mays.

Mays is part of another lawsuit that was filed in January, joining with the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups to accuse local and state officials of disregarding federal water safety laws.

Last month, as Michigan Radio reported, the same Baltimore law firm that represented the family of Freddie Gray joined a legal team that seeks "at least $150 million for Flint residents" — money that would serve both to refund past payments by water customers and to build a compensation fund.

Today, Michigan Radio reports that the city of Flint is taking out a $25 million loan to pay for replacing lead pipes, with Mayor Karen Weaver saying the city can't wait on state and federal money that's been promised.

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