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Concerned Pastors for Social Action v. Khouri

ELR Citation: 46 ELR 20124
Nos. 16-10277, (E.D. Mich., 07/07/2016) (Lawson, J.)

A district court held that citizen groups may go forward with their SDWA lawsuit against various Flint, Michigan, officials for mishandling the city's water treatment and distribution system. The defendants filed motions to dismiss, arguing that the federal district court should not, or cannot, get involved, and that the plaintiffs should be content with the remedial course charted by EPA. But the court disagreed. The court need not defer to EPA's primary jurisdiction to address the complaints. Nor is the lawsuit is a disguised appeal of EPA's January 2016 emergency administrative order, and the relief the groups seek is prospective. In addition, the Eleventh Amendment does not bar suit against the Michigan treasurer or the Flint Receivership Transition Advisory Board (RTAB), which managed the city’s affairs along with city officials after the city was put into a state-controlled receivership in 2011. The court also held that the individual members of the RTAB are proper defendants under the SDWA because they exert control over the financial decisions affecting the operation of the Flint water system. And the complaint states viable claims for relief.