Flint, MI– A recent court order will ensure claims forms and other materials for the Flint water lawsuit settlement will be translated into Spanish and Arabic before the submission process begins.

The $641.25 million settlement (although that amount may decrease if McLaren Hospital walks away) was announced in August of last year. The settlement would resolve all litigation related to the water crisis against the State of Michigan, the City of Flint, Rowe Engineering, and McLaren Hospital.  

It prioritizes children, with 79.5% of funds allocated to minors, 15% for adults, 3% for property owners, and 2% for special education services in Genesee County, and 0.5% for business and economic loss. 

U.S. District Court Judge Judith Levy preliminarily approved the terms of the settlement in January, giving residents a two-month window to opt in, opt out, or file objections. She heard objections to the settlement in July, but has yet to issue a decision regarding final approval. 

If the settlement is finally approved, those who registered can begin submitting their claims. Up until last week, the claims forms were only in English. 

On Sept. 9, U.S. District Court Judge Judith Levy issued an order authorizing Expert Language Services, Inc. to translate “selected Claims Materials and related information,” from English to Spanish and Arabic.

The company is routinely used for court-related translations, and Levy ordered that they may be compensated up to $20,000 for their services. 

Special Master Deborah Greenspan requested that these forms be translated in a notice on Sept. 8. 

“The parties anticipate that the claims submission process will commence soon and to facilitate the process, it is helpful to provide certain claim forms and related materials in languages other than English,” Greenspan said in the order. “Based on the information provided to the Special Master and the Master Guardian ad Litem – it would be helpful and appropriate to translate the claims materials into two languages: Spanish and Arabic.” 

Greenspan requested the company be used to translate claims forms and related materials, but also perhaps, “additional translation services as the claims process is implemented,” if needed. 

In Levy’s order, she said the court may engage ELS again to translate any claims that residents submit written in Spanish and Arabic, but that it will be its own separate order if the need arises.

Amy Diaz is a journalist hailing from St. Petersburg, FL. She has written for multiple local newspapers in her hometown before becoming a full-time reporter for Flint Beat. When she’s not writing you...