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Mays v. Flint, City of

ELR Citation: 47 ELR 20112
Nos. 16-2484, (6th Cir., 09/11/2017)

The Sixth Circuit held that residents of Flint, Michigan, may pursue class claims against state actors in state court. In January 2016, several plaintiffs filed a class-action lawsuit in state court stemming from the Flint water crisis. In April 2016, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) sought removal of the action to federal court under the federal-officer removal statute, claiming that they were being sued for actions that they took while acting under the direction of EPA because the EPA delegated primary enforcement authority to MDEQ to implement the SDWA in Michigan. The court disagreed, holding that while federal-officer removal has been applied where a government contractor is helping to fulfill the federal government’s tasks, the absence here of language allowing a private entity to act on the federal government’s behalf weighs against allowing federal-officer removal. Further, although MDEQ had to periodically submit reports to the EPA detailing compliance with regulations that had been adopted into state law, compliance reporting, even if detailed, is insufficient by itself to merit federal-officer removal. Removal was denied.