(WWJ/AP) Former Gov. Rick Snyder can’t dodge an interview with lawyers in civil lawsuits related to the Flint water scandal.
A federal appeals court says the decision also covers Andy Dillon, who was state treasurer during Snyder’s first term.
Snyder and Dillon argued that they can’t be forced to sit through depositions while they’re still trying to get dismissed from lawsuits based on immunity.
But the appeals court says a judge can put limits on certain questions while still allowing lawyers to ask Snyder and Dillon about key facts related to the water switch in Flint.
Flint’s tap water became contaminated in April 2014 after officials switched from the Detroit system to the Flint River to save money, exposing many residents to lead, a potent neurotoxin.
The switch to the Flint River was to be temporary, until the city could connect to a planned regional pipeline from Lake Huron. Residents complained the river water smelled and tasted bad and was causing skin rashes and other health problems. Local officials insisted it was safe.
State officials finally acknowledged the lead contamination in September 2015 after doctors reported high levels of lead in Flint children’s blood and Virginia Tech University researchers said their testing of Flint water samples found some with lead levels meeting EPA’s definition of “toxic waste.”
Flint switched back to the Detroit water system in October 2015 and the city has been slowly recovering ever since. Water quality has improved, though residents remain wary of government, and officials are replacing lead pipes across the city, but it’s taking longer than some prefer.
An investigation has led to criminal charges against 15 current or former government officials. In April of 2019, a judge ruled that the federal government can be sued by Flint residents who blame the Environmental Protection Agency for waiting too long to intervene in the city’s water crisis.