Judge: Lawsuit can proceed against Flint water contractor

FILE - In this March 21, 2016 file photo, the Flint Water Plant water tower is seen in Flint, Mich. A judge on Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021, approved a $626 million settlement for Flint residents and others who were exposed to lead-contaminated water. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File) (Carlos Osorio, Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

FLINT, Mich. – A judge on Monday refused to dismiss a lawsuit against an engineering company, which is accused of not doing enough to stop the flow of lead-contaminated water in Flint in 2015.

Four families are suing Veolia North America. The company did not participate in the recent $626 million settlement with Flint residents, mostly paid by the state.

Veolia owed residents a “legal duty of care” in 2015 when it was hired to analyze Flint's water quality, nearly a year after state-appointed managers began using the Flint River, U.S. District Judge Judith Levy said.

The water was not treated to reduce corrosion. As a result, lead leached from old plumbing.

An expert witness said “any reasonable engineer in VNA’s position would have known that immediate corrosion control was necessary even without” knowing lead results, Levy said.

Her decision means the case will go to trial or be settled unless an appeals court intervenes.

Veolia argued that it included corrosion control in recommendations to the city. It said it had a $40,000 short-term assignment that focused on problems created by a cancer-causing contaminant.

Almost all recommendations and warnings to Flint “were ignored and not implemented,” Veolia said on its website.