Nick Krieger (@nckrieger):
State officials love to claim that no one knew about Flint's lead problems until 2015. However, as Paul Egan and Matthew Dolan have reported in today's Detroit Free Press, state lawyers now insist that any claims Flint might file against the state will have to be immediately dismissed. Why? Because Flint did not provide notice of any possible claims related to the lead problems by the fall of 2014. And no, this is not a bad April Fools' Day joke.
Under MCL 600.6431(3), a plaintiff who seeks to sue the state for property damage or personal injury must file a notice of intention to sue within six months of the event giving rise to the cause of action. The state's lawyers insist that the event giving rise to any possible cause of action in this case was the emergency manager's April 2014 decision to switch to the Flint River as the city's primary drinking-water source. Therefore, they argue, Flint was required to provide notice of its intention to sue the state by October 2014.
How, exactly, was Flint supposed to file a notice of intention to sue by October 2014 when nobody even knew there was a problem until 2015? It is utter hypocrisy for the state's lawyers to insist on exact compliance with the statute—especially when the event giving rise to any possible causes of action (the switch to the Flint River) was caused by the state itself.
For years, Michigan courts excused compliance with the 6-month notice provision of MCL 600.6431(3) for equitable reasons or if the state would not be prejudiced. But not anymore. Michigan's Republican-nominated Supreme Court majority ruled in 2012 that a plaintiff must provide notice of its intention to sue the state within 6 months, even if it does not discover the existence of a cause of action until sometime much later.
It really makes you wonder whether our current state government is acting in good faith.