Five officials in charge of the Flint, Michigan water supply have been charged with manslaughter as a result of inaction to fix health issues in the area. These most recent charges are tied to an outbreak of Legionnaire’s Disease in 2014 and 2015 that resulted in a dozen deaths and hundreds of illnesses.
A variety of charges have been filed, including:
- Involuntary manslaughter, due to the 12 deaths
- Official misconduct, for hampering investigators and failing to divulge the outbreak to the public in a timely manner
- Obstruction of justice, for failure to provide important information when asked and for lying to a police officer
These are serious accusations, and if proven true the officials could see prison time. The governor is closing ranks and attempting to protect them, claiming they fulfilled all legal mandates for divulging information. Whether or not legal mandates were followed, inaction led to the death of twelve people.
Too often, inaction is a common response to health emergencies. Flint, Michigan is not the only place where major health problems have developed and governments and private businesses have failed to act. At times, the criminal system fails to act, as well. What is happening in Michigan is a good step forward for holding the powerful responsible for what they do and, just importantly, for what they do not do.
These charges do not address the crisis of lead in the Flint water, a crisis which has resulted in negative health consequences for hundreds of children. The long-term effects of the Flint water scandal are not yet known, as many of the problems associated with lead exposure, such as learning disabilities, have not had time to fully manifest.
If you or someone you love has suffered due to exposure to toxins, relying on the criminal justice system to hold the guilty accountable is a risk. Charges such as these are rare. Please, consider contacting an experienced attorney who can help you hold the polluter financially responsible for their actions.