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Neglect Charges Against Snyder for Flint Failure Show Template for Holding Noem Accountable for Coronavirus?

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has filed misdemeanor charges of willful neglect of duty against former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder for his role in the Flint water disaster:

Genesee County District Court records show the charges stem from an alleged offense on April 25, 2014 — the day Flint began using the Flint River as its new water source.

…Snyder, a Republican who has been out of office for two years, was governor when state-appointed managers in Flint switched the city’s water to the Flint River in 2014 as a cost-saving step while a pipeline was being built to Lake Huron. The water, however, was not treated to reduce corrosion — a disastrous decision affirmed by state regulators that caused lead to leach from old pipes and poison the distribution system used by nearly 100,000 residents [Joe Guillen and Paul Egan, “Former Gov. Rick Snyder Faces 2 Criminal Charges in Flint Water Case,” Detroit Free Press, 2021.01.13].

Hmm… Governor Kristi Noem has demonstrated a fair amount of willful neglect that has put South Dakotans at greater peril of catching and dying from coronavirus (as of yesterday, 104,195 South Dakotans infected, 1,604 dead). If we had a real Attorney General, South Dakota could consider charges against Governor Noem like those against former Governor Snyder for neglect that exacerbates a public health crisis.

Hmm… maybe House Bill 1046, the measure to outlaw most possible lawsuits over liability for coronavirus, isn’t just South Dakota Republicans carrying more water for ALEC and other corporate fascists. Maybe HB 1046 is meant to keep Kristi Noem from facing legal repercussions (and paying big fines out of all the money she’s making now as a TV star) for her failure to manage the coronavirus pandemic.

4 Comments

  1. leslie 2021-01-14

    I like it.

  2. Mark Anderson 2021-01-14

    Come on Cory, you know that Republicans have always believed that getting the lead out is an individuals responsibility.

  3. Donald Pay 2021-01-14

    I’m a believer in the citizen suit provisions that are included in many environmental statutes. Rather than holding government officials responsible after the fact, citizen suits allow citizens to demand action from an agency before, during and after some failure to take action. You have to provide notice to the agency and give it a period of time to take action. After that period, if no action is taken, you take them to court. You can even get the costs that you incurred for bringing the action repaid.

    In South Dakota, the Technical Information Project partnered with the Atlantic States Legal Foundation to bring a precedent-setting citizen suit against the Wharf Mine and EPA regarding failure to regulate under the NPDES provisions of the Clean Water Act. My part in this action was to review files at the DENR to determine if we could make the case that the Wharf Mine had a point source of water discharge, rather than simply storm water runoff. As a result of our arguments and fact-finding we were able to convince EPA, who were already thinking along the same lines, that heap leach mines needed to be covered under the NPDES permitting system.

    Unfortunately, our action was too late As we were bringing this action another part of he Guilt Edge Mine was already a ticking time bomb and on its way to becoming a Superfund Site.

    Still, citizens suits do work.

  4. DaveFN 2021-01-14

    Not an attorney myself; perhaps one can speak to these.

    https://topclassactions.com/lawsuit-settlements/coronavirus/a-complete-guide-to-the-coronavirus-outbreak-legal-issues/

    https://www.americanbar.org/groups/tort_trial_insurance_practice/publications/committee-newsletters/covid-19_class_actions_forecast/

    “Government entities also face increasing challenges for allegedly “causing harm” or “increasing the risk of harm” from COVID-19. Other claims might arise for failure to safeguard the health and safety of citizens whether in relation to elderly residents, prisons or homeless shelters among others. There have also been actions by companies forced to close for inadequate responses or notices from the government leading them to hardship.”

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