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Former Flint consultant asks judge to consider time limits in water crisis trial - Energy And Water Development Corp

Former Flint consultant asks judge to consider time limits in water crisis trial

FLINT, MI — An attorney for one of two companies that advised Flint on its water system has asked a federal judge to consider time limits in a civil trial that’s otherwise expected to last for several more months.

Wayne Mason, an attorney for engineering company Lockwood, Andrews and Newnam, made the request after a 10-person jury was dismissed on Wednesday, March 16, following a fourth partial day of testimony from Warren Green, a vice president and chief engineer for the company.

Four Flint children are suing LAN and Veolia North America in U.S. District Court in Ann Arbor in the bellwether water crisis case which began Feb. 28.

Attorneys for the children claim the companies were negligent in advising the city, causing their clients to ingest lead-contaminated water that harmed their health and development.

The companies have said in court filings that they will challenge whether the children were injured and both deny responsibility for any harms that were caused.

In the more than two weeks since the trial started, working from 9 a.m. until about 1:30 p.m., Mondays through Thursdays, the trial remains in an early phase with just four witnesses testifying so far.

“I don’t want to be a broken record on this, but would the court consider time limits?” Mason asked U.S. District Court Judge Judith Levy Wednesday. “I mean, this — playing a five-hour deposition and the like — I don’t know what the strategy is here … (but) there’s no reason this case needs to go on for months and months.”

Levy asked Mason for a proposal on the number of hours he believes attorneys on each side of the case should have after the first videotaped deposition in the case — from Veolia engineer Thepin Chen — was partially played for the jury on Wednesday.

The judge said her own experience as an attorney left her with the belief that time restrictions are “no way to try a case,” but said “any measures we can take to keep the case going would be helpful.”

Mason said he would make a proposal before the jury is re-seated on Thursday, March 17.

Moshe Maimon, an attorney for the Flint children, said he would welcome suggestions on time-saving measures but would not agree to what he called potentially arbitrary limits.

Levy has warned jurors that the water case is expected to last four or five months because of its complexity and a potential witness pool of more than 150 individuals, some of whom will appear in person and others whose testimony will be parts of videotaped depositions.

In Chen’s videotaped testimony Wednesday, he said he advised others at Veolia that a return to Detroit water by the city of Flint would have provided the best quality water for residents after the city struggled to properly treat water from the Flint River in parts of 2014 and 2015.

Veolia worked as a Flint consultant in February and March 2015, advising the city on bacteria and chlorine compounds in its water.

Executives at Veolia also knew that lead was a potential problem lurking in Flint’s water, according to internal company emails, and some senior employees argued that Flint officials should be told to change the city’s water supply to protect residents.

The company never made that recommendation public, however, and Chen testified Wednesday that Flint officials made it clear that ending the use of the Flint River for drinking water — a temporary, cost-saving measure — wasn’t an option.

“It was made clear we are not looking into the other (water) source,” Chen said in his deposition.

Read more:

Judge waits to decide on live testimony from Snyder, others charged with Flint water crimes

Engineer says Flint bypassed key treatment step before sending river water to homes

Engineer says he took Flint emergency manager’s word that plant would be tested before distributing water

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