Former Government Officials in Flint Water Trial Can’t Plead 5th

Libby Vish, Esq. | VP, Business Development


On Monday, March 21, 2022, U.S. District Judge Judith Levy ruled that former government officials involved in the Flint Water Crisis cannot quash subpoenas in an ongoing civil trial.

The current civil trial involves claims from four Flint children. The children allege that Velia North America and Lockwood Andrews & Newnam, two water engineering contractors working for the city, had a professional obligation, which they neglected, to warn of potential lead corrosion that could occur in city pipes when a new water source was implemented.

Five government officials, including former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, submitted motions to be released from testifying in the trial. The judge denied the motion on the basis that all five government officials failed to invoke the Fifth Amendment in their pre-trial depositions.

The scope of their waiver from their previous answers is to be determined at a hearing on Friday, March 25, 2022. The officials were indicted in 2021 for charges related to their conduct and potential negligence while in office, related to the Flint Water Crisis. The officials faced previous criminal charges that were dropped in 2019, prior to their depositions.

The trial began in February is expected to be lengthy with many fact and expert witnesses.

The case is Walters et al. v. Flint et al., case number 5:17-cv-10164, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.

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