Hundreds of lawsuits are being filed against the City of Jackson alleging unsafe water conditions. Parents say they are concerned about how contaminants in the water are affecting their children.
Residents in the capital city began filing lawsuits last year in response to reports of high lead contamination. They are being represented by the same attorneys who won a settlement in Flynt, Michigan, a major case of mass lead poisoning. Attorney Corey Stern and others met with their current and prospective clients last week to share updates on the Jackson case.
“So we represent about 1,800 children, and all of them have their own claims,” says Stern. “This is not a class-action lawsuit. This is not a case that we file for one kid on behalf of everybody else, because every kid is different.”
The Mississippi Department of Health has previously reported that several homes in Jackson had elevated levels of lead in their water supply. Deputy Director Jim Craig says the city is working to address these issues.
Craig says “Although the majority of home lead testing performed to date identified no lead or lead below the action level set by the EPA, the health department is continuing its recommendations as a special precaution, especially for households with young children or pregnant women.”
Craig says these precautions will remain in place until the city has enacted necessary corrosion control measures.
Carolyn Brown, a widow with three children, joined the first round of lawsuits last year. She has concerns that lead poisoning contributed to her son developing autism.
“It’s been a living hell,” says Brown. “A lot of people in Jackson are in poverty, and so I feel like they treat them accordingly. But there’s people in Jackson who aren’t lower-class, who actually go to work every day, who actually went to school, who actually graduated, who actually got an education and great job, but we’re suffering. It’s not fair, it’s not right. We’re suffering.”
Last week, the city-wide boil notice for Jackson was lifted by the Department of Health, and officials say it is safe to drink the water. Although some localized boil notices have since gone into effect.