A judge on Friday rejected a sudden effort to extend Monday’s deadline to register for a share of a $641 million Flint water lawsuit settlement.
U.S. District Judge Judith Levy said she won’t upset a well-publicized 60-day deadline that was baked into a settlement involving Flint, the state of Michigan, residents who were exposed to lead-contaminated water, and other parties.
“Get all hands on deck and get the job done,” Levy told a group of lawyers during a hearing on Zoom.
More than 33,000 registration forms were received as of last Monday. They could be Flint residents as well as non-residents who owned property or businesses in the city and were affected by the water.
No one needs a lawyer to sign up. They can send a form by mail or register online at officialflintwatersettlement.com.
“There have been phone calls, appointments, people coming in saying, ‘We’re just learning about this now,’” said attorney Stephen Monroe, who argued for an extension until mid-May.
Levy wasn’t impressed.
“That is the nature of us humans. Sometimes we put things off,” she said.
Any delay likely would have tipped other deadlines in a case that won’t be finished for months.
“The residents of Flint have waited long enough and should not have to wait a day longer,” attorneys Hunter Shkolnik and Corey Stern said in a court filing.
Michigan is paying $600 million of the settlement. Legal fees possibly as high as $200 million would be carved out of the $641 million deal.
Payments will vary depending on a claimant’s exposure to the water and injury, details that need to be disclosed later.
“Registration merely saves a spot,” Levy said.
The judge noted that children can be registered even after she grants final approval to the agreement in the months ahead.
State-appointed managers in Flint switched the city’s water source to a river in 2014, but the water wasn’t treated to reduce corrosion. Lead broke off from old pipes and spoiled the system for more than a year.