Facts from the courtroom
March 10, 2022

Setting the record straight on Flint

VNA will not let distortions of the facts go unchecked

The Flint Water Crisis was a massive failure of the government and we will not allow anyone to misrepresent the facts of this trial. During the trial, we’ll be setting the record straight around any lies the plaintiff’s trial attorneys share about VNA’s role in Flint.

Earlier this week, in their opening statement, the plaintiff’s trial attorneys already repeatedly lied and distorted the facts about VNA’s role in Flint. Get the facts.

Lie 1

VNA was working for General Motors in October 2014 and, therefore, would have received a heads up that General Motors’ Flint plant planned to stop using the water from the Flint River due to concerns around corrosivity.

VNA has never worked with General Motors in Flint and none of its contracts with General Motors were related to drinking water. VNA had contracts with two General Motors plants in Pontiac and Lansing for wastewater treatment and reverse osmosis for heating and cooling.

The water treated for VNA’s contracts with General Motors was not from the Flint River. Therefore, nothing in the handling of the water would have indicated a corrosive water problem in Flint.

At no point did VNA receive any notice, whether formally or informally, that there was an issue with corrosive water at General Motors in Flint. VNA learned of this news in the media, like everyone else did, when General Motors voiced concerns.

Lie 2

Business development concerns drove VNA’s recommendations in Flint.

Business development considerations never dictated the course of VNA’s engagement with the City of Flint and Business Development leaders never had operational control of the project. 

VNA engineers exclusively made all recommendations to the City of Flint, based on their engineering judgment and that alone. 

Notably, VNA offered continued assistance and help to the City of Flint after submitting their final report but officials chose to ignore all but one of their recommendations.

Lie 3

Business development considerations stopped VNA from recommending that the City of Flint return to Detroit Water.

VNA was repeatedly told by the City of Flint that returning to Detroit Water was not an option. Flint Emergency Manager Gerald Ambrose called it “incomprehensible” to return to Detroit Water.

These officials had already ruled out the option of returning to Detroit Water long before VNA arrived on the scene, and they failed to implement all but one of VNA’s recommendations to treat the water for corrosivity.

Lie 4

VNA claimed the water was “safe” in a public meeting in February 2015.

This quote has been taken completely out of context and is a distortion of the facts. The full record of the meeting makes it clear that VNA warned that it had not conducted its own tests and only reviewed the test results collected by the City of Flint. 

The test results provided to VNA by the City of Flint showed that the water was in compliance with State and Federal water quality standards. 

A VNA official even gave a detailed description of what “safe” meant during the meeting and had a PowerPoint slide that said “safe = compliance with State and Federal standards and required testing”. 

VNA’s engineers did not know the City of Flint had collected lead test results improperly and that the data was flawed.

Lie 5

VNA employee Rob Nicholas said that “lead could be a problem” in internal emails and then told the VNA team not to pass the information to Flint officials.

This email was taken completely out of context and the plaintiff’s attorney is misrepresenting the facts and timeline of events. The email sent by Rob Nicholas was based on a news article published before VNA even entered Flint which showed high lead levels in one largely unused drinking fountain at the University of Michigan-Flint.

The email did prompt VNA to ask for test results because it indicated lead could be a problem in the water. VNA reviewed the lead and copper rule testing conducted by the City. Those test results showed compliance with State and Federal water standards. 

Lie 6

VNA knew the Flint water was corrosive but assured the public the water was safe.

Although the results provided by Flint officials showed no current problems with lead, VNA discussed corrosive water conditions that could result in lead issues in the future with City officials. The data the City of Flint provided VNA showed the Flint water was in compliance with State and Federal quality standards.

VNA also investigated the lead testing provided by the City and made recommendations to implement corrosion control. 

After VNA’s work in Flint was complete, VNA followed up to see if the City wanted additional help implementing VNA’s recommendations. VNA was told that the City itself was going to implement VNA’s corrosion control recommendations, but the City never did.

Lie 7

VNA made the wrong decisions time after time and share blame in the Flint Water Crisis.

The responsibility for the Flint Water Crisis rests with the government officials who decided to change Flint’s water source to save money, failed to implement corrosion control treatment, took actions to prolong the crisis, and then acted to cover it up. 

VNA did not cause the Flint Water Crisis, did not prolong it, and did not do anything to make it worse in any way. The Flint Water Crisis was a massive failure of Government at all levels.

Fault does not lie with VNA, but with the government officials who acted to save money at the expense of the health and well-being of Flint residents, lied to minimize the scale of the crisis, and deceived both the citizens of Flint and VNA.