Engineering firm reaches settlement in Flint water case

FLINT, Mich. (AP) — An engineering firm accused of having some responsibility for Flint’s lead-contaminated water in 2014-15 has settled a lawsuit with four families, months after a jury couldn’t reach a unanimous verdict in August.

Details of the agreement between the families and Lockwood, Andrews & Newman, known as LAN, were not publicly disclosed in federal court in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

“To avoid the significant costs, expenses and time of another protracted trial, the parties were able to reach a mutually agreeable resolution, subject to court approval,” LAN attorney Wayne Mason told MLive.com.

The families sued LAN and another company, Veolia North America, accusing them of not doing enough to get Flint to treat the highly corrosive water or to urge a return to a regional water supplier.

Flint’s water became contaminated because water pulled from the Flint River wasn’t treated to reduce its effect on lead pipes. Citing cost, managers appointed by then-Gov. Rick Snyder switched to the river in 2014 while awaiting a new pipeline to Lake Huron.

The trial centered on the engineering firms and the effects of lead on four children, not all Flint residents. The case’s outcome was being closely watched because there are other cases pending against Veolia and LAN.

Veolia’s lawyers said the firm was briefly hired in the middle of the crisis, not before the spigot was turned on. LAN said an engineer repeatedly recommended that Flint test the river water for weeks to determine what treatments would be necessary.

The families that reached a settlement with LAN are still suing Veolia, and a new trial is scheduled to begin in February.

Veolia and LAN were not part of a landmark $626 million deal involving property owners, thousands of residents, the state of Michigan and other parties.

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