Facts from the courtroom
June 30, 2022

Ethics expert – VNA met the standard of care in the performance of their duties

On June 28, VNA called Dr. William Bellamy to the stand. Dr. Bellamy has a Ph.D. in Civil/Environmental Engineering and has worked as a water treatment engineer for nearly half a century. In addition to his hands-on expertise, Dr. Bellamy is also an expert in engineering ethics.

Dr. Bellamy conducted a thorough review of every aspect of VNA’s work in Flint, and his testimony directly refuted the opinion of plaintiffs’ witness Richard Humann, who relied on remarkably little information when drafting his report. Dr. Bellamy found that VNA did indeed “meet the standard of care in the performance of their duties” in Flint and that VNA’s recommendations to the City were appropriate based on the information they had at the time.

Here’s what you need to know.

VNA was specifically asked not to evaluate the option of returning to Detroit water, as Flint officials were already well aware that a return to Detroit was an option.

  • Dr. Bellamy testified that evaluating a return to DWSD was not part of VNA’s contracted scope, and that because the City was already familiar with that option, it would have been a waste of resources for VNA to focus on DWSD in any capacity.
  • Dr. Bellamy confirmed that VNA was asked to assess whether and how the Flint Water Treatment Plant (FWTP) could come into compliance with applicable regulations.
  • Dr. Bellamy also confirmed that VNA was correct in determining, based on the information they were provided, that the FWTP could be brought into compliance with the recommendations outlined in their final report.

VNA had no choice but to rely on the City to provide all relevant compliance monitoring samples, which is standard practice for the type of assessment VNA was asked to conduct.

  • Dr. Bellamy explained that compliance monitoring “requires a lot of work in the chain of custody” and that it is standard practice to rely on the utility to provide all of the compliance samples.
  • Based on the limited scope of VNA’s work, there was no possible way that VNA could have conducted its own compliance monitoring while in Flint.

VNA’s recommendations were appropriate based on the information they were provided at the time, but the implementation of those recommendations were out of their control.

  • Dr. Bellamy testified that VNA’s recommendations were consistent with the standard of care.
  • Dr. Bellamy testified that a corrosion control study, as recommended in VNA’s final report, was the correct thing to do, and that it would not have been appropriate for VNA to be prescriptive before a study was completed.
  • Dr. Bellamy testified that “implementation is up to the City in total unless [VNA] was later hired to assist with the implementation of treatment.”
  • In fact, shortly after submitting their final report, VNA submitted a proposal to assist with the implementation of their recommendations, but the City declined.
  • Tragically, the City chose to ignore all but one of their recommendations to improve the quality of the water.