April 19, 2016 / 5:40 PM / 3 years ago

U.S. judge dismisses proposed class action over tainted Flint water

A woman with a "Flint Lives Matter" shirt walks toward a hearing room in Capitol Hill in Washington March 17, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

(Reuters) - A federal judge in Michigan on Tuesday dismissed one of several proposed class actions by residents of Flint against Governor Rick Snyder and other state and local officials over contamination of the city’s water supply.

The lawsuit’s claims are addressed by federal regulations for safe drinking water, and the plaintiffs can seek relief under state law, U.S. District Judge John Corbett O’Meara ruled.

O’Meara found the constitutional violations alleged in the lawsuit stem are covered by the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, which gives the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency exclusive enforcement authority.

Attorney Valdemar Washington, who represents the residents in the lawsuit, said they were considering filing an appeal of O’Meara’s ruling and also possibly filing similar claims in Genesee County court, the Michigan Court of Claims, or both.

Flint was under the control of a state-appointed emergency manager when it switched its water source from Lake Huron to the Flint River in April 2014. The city switched back in October 2015, but not before testing confirmed high levels of lead in Flint’s tap water and in the blood of some children. Lead is a toxic agent that can cause permanent damage to children.

When the lawsuit was filed, the lawyers for the residents said they were seeking more than $150 million in damages in the 12-count complaint, including compensatory and punitive damages.

Reporting by David Bailey; editing by David Gregorio and Marguerita Choy

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