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Flint, MI—Pastor Alfred Harris was among several protestors speaking out against the money attorneys stand to make from the $641.25 million Flint water crisis lawsuit settlement.
“You’ve already crushed me, you’ve already disrespected me, you’ve already killed me, and now you want me to pay the people who murdered me,” he said. Harris joined protestors on July 13, 2021 for a second Flint water crisis fairness hearing.
The settlement, announced in August of last year, would resolve all litigation related to the water crisis against the State of Michigan, the City of Flint, Rowe Engineering, and McLaren Hospital. The plaintiff’s lawyers in the case have requested 32% of the settlement be used for legal fees, which amounts to $202 million of the settlement.
Harris, pastor of Saints of God Church, said the attorney fees were excessive and disrespectful, on top of an already “paltry” settlement amount.
“You’re going to tell me that out of that $641 million, you want me, the people, the victims to give away $202 million?” Harris said.
U.S. District Court Judge Judith Levy preliminary approved the settlement in January, but it is now going through a series of fairness hearings, where residents and attorneys can voice objections before it is given final approval.
The second fairness hearing took place on July 13, and Levy heard from 15 Flint residents inside the courthouse. A large group gathered outside the courthouse as well, to voice their disapproval of the amount to be spent on legal fees.
“We think that money would be better spent, a lot more of that money would be better spent, on healthcare for the people of Flint,” said Robert Dorigo Jones, president of Michigan Lawsuit Abuse Watch.
Community activist and council candidate for the second ward Arthur Woodson said this was an example of the abuse Flint has endured.
“They figure that hey, you know what, if you want to become a millionaire, go to Flint. They’re going to assist you in becoming a millionaire, and you can take your money home,” Woodson said. “We here in Flint are … sick and tired of judges and lawyers benefitting off of us.”
Jones said a more appropriate amount would be 15-20% range, which would be about $98 million to $120 million.
“Still a lot of money, but it would leave a lot more for the people that really deserve this and who need this,” he said.
Attorney fees will be the subject of discussion at the third fairness hearing on July 15 at 9 a.m. It will be hosted virtually and can be found here.