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Flint, MI– The deadline to register for the $641.25 million water crisis lawsuit settlement passed last week, closing the two-month window residents had to opt in or opt out.
In August of last year, the State of Michigan announced the settlement, which would resolve all litigation related to the water crisis against the defendants–the State of Michigan, the City of Flint, Rowe Engineering, and McLaren Hospital. U.S. District Court Judge Judith Levy preliminarily approved the terms of the settlement in January, giving residents about two months to opt in, file objections, or opt out.
Those who did not register to opt in or directly opt out by March 29, gave up their ability to receive any settlement funds, or file any future legal claims to the defendants in the case. Residents who directly opted out can pursue their own legal action.
For residents that opted in, the process has just begun.
Here’s what you need to know:
According to the amended settlement agreement, the Claims Administrator has been reviewing the submitted registration forms to determine whether they have been done correctly and completely.
If there was an issue with a registration form—say for example required information was missing, or the person was found ineligible—the claims administrator should have sent out an “Adverse Notice” to that person or entity. This notice would explain why the form was rejected, and give the recipient two weeks to resubmit a registration form.
The Claims Administrator has been given 30 days after the March 29th deadline to go through the registration forms, and resubmitted forms, and prepare a final list of all persons or entities who have registered and were found eligible to participate in the settlement as a claimant. This list will be posted on a secure website and provided to the plaintiff’s counsel and the defendant’s counsel.
Once that list is posted, people who were found eligible to make a claim will have until August 26, to submit their claim forms, and all other required documents and proofs. The Claims Administrator will send the claim form with instructions to the individuals deemed eligible to participate.
If you change your address and want to receive a claim form at your new address, you must notify the claims administrator of your new address by sending written notice of your change of address to 1775 St. James Place, Suite 200, Houston, TX 77056. You can also notify the claims administrator of a change in address by email at email@example.com or by calling the 1-800-493-1754 toll free line.
When filling out the claim form, the claimant will need to select a settlement category that they believe is applicable to them. Those categories are explained in the settlement documents here, but the form will also identify each category and what information and proofs must be submitted to qualify for each. Based upon the claim material provided, the Claims Administrator will assign the appropriate settlement category. If it’s different from the category selected by the claimant, they will consult with the Special Master, and the claimant will have a right to make a reconsideration request or appeal it.
In addition to the claim form, you will also need to submit a Release and Lien Disclosure Form which will be a part of the claim packet, along with instructions about other documents you may need to submit.
If you mail in your documents, they must be sent to the claims administrator and postmarked by August 26. If you do not fully and properly complete and deliver your claims materials by this time, you “shall not be able to participate in the Settlement Program and shall not receive a Monetary Award,” according to the settlement documents.
Before the August 26 deadline comes around, there is another important date for people to be aware of: July 12.
On July 12, the court will hold a public hearing to determine whether the settlement is “fair, adequate, and reasonable,” whether the Settlement Class can be certified, and if the settlement should be finally approved.
So far, Judge Levy has only preliminarily approved the settlement. The court will consider objections that have been submitted during this hearing, as well as the application for an award of attorneys’ fees and expense reimbursement. After this hearing, the court will decide whether or not to approve the settlement, and according to the settlement documents, “it is unknown how long these decisions will take.”
The documents also state that this hearing may be continued or rescheduled by the court, so residents are encouraged to check the website for updates.
If the settlement is finally approved, the claims administrator will review and analyze all of the claims and determine the payment amount based on established payment criteria. Judge Levy has preliminarily approved the payment criteria, process, and allocation of funds, which can be found in the settlement documents.
Every claimant in each category will have the same payment criteria applied to them, whether or not they are represented by counsel or part of the settlement class. According to the settlement documents, “each claimant who qualifies for payment in a specific claim category will receive the same treatment and the same payment amount.”
For more information visit the official settlement website here.