Jury awards $100K; woman says she lost job over Flint data

(Carlos Osorio, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

FLINT, Mich. – A jury awarded $100,000 to a woman who says she lost her job after refusing to falsify blood test results of children exposed to lead-contaminated water in Flint, her lawyer said Tuesday.

April Cook-Hawkins worked at the Genesee County health department for approximately four to five months before being forced to quit in 2016, said her attorney, Carol Laughbaum.

The department said Cook-Hawkins was ousted over her performance, but the jury didn’t accept that reason last Friday and awarded $100,000 for emotional distress, Laughbaum said.

“They (the health department) said she wasn’t a team player. Virtually nothing at trial showed she wasn’t a team player,” the lawyer said.

Related: EPA loses key ruling as Flint residents pursue water claims

Cook-Hawkins told jurors that she was directed to record lead-level results that she knew were inaccurate.

“The county had two sets of records: Blue sheets with actual testing data and doctored versions, white sheets, with handwritten corrections showing perfect lead levels,” Laughbaum said.

Michael Edmunds, a lawyer who represented then-nurse director Toni LaRocco, said he was disappointed with the trial result.

“I am currently in the process of advising the county about its options,” he said.

Residents of the majority-Black city were exposed to lead when the city pulled water from the Flint River in 2014-15 without treating it to reduce the corrosive effect on old pipes. The city returned to a regional water supplier in fall 2015.

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