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JPMorgan, Wells Fargo Blamed for Flint Water Crisis in Lawsuit

Oct. 7, 2020, 8:33 PM

JPMorgan Chase & Co., Wells Fargo, and Stifel Financial Corp. are allegedly responsible for the Flint water crisis because they underwrote the city’s bonds while knowing local officials would use polluted water from the Flint River, 2,000 residents claim in a federal lawsuit filed Wednesday.

The complaint alleges that Chase, Wells Fargo, and Stifel had knowledge that the city needed to upgrade its facilities if local officials wanted to save money, by switching from Detroit-area water to another regional water source. Thus, the companies allegedly knew the city would use the Flint River in 2014 as a interim water source.

That switch to untreated Flint River water corroded pipes, exposing roughly 100,000 residents to lead contamination in drinking water.

“The Flint Water Crisis didn’t happen without the help of many, many responsible parties, and they all must be brought to justice—including the named defendants in this lawsuit,” Corey Stern, a partner at Levy Konigsberg LLP, said in a release.

Michigan officials recently settled state and local government liabilities relating to the water crisis for $600 million. Suits against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and some private engineering firms continue to churn.

Causes of Action: Substantial due process and harm to bodily integrity.

Relief: Compensatory and punitive damages.

Response: JPMorgan declined to comment. Wells Fargo and Stifel didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Attorneys: Levy Konigsberg LLP is representing the plaintiffs.

The case is Walters et al, E.D. Mich., No. 5:20-cv-12726, 10/7/20.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Ebert in Columbus, Ohio at aebert@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anna Yukhananov at ayukhananov@bloombergindustry.com

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