FLINT, MI — An expert witness for four Flint children says they suffered acquired brain injuries after living through the city’s water crisis.
Neuropsychologist Mira Krishnan testified in the children’s case against two companies that advised Flint officials during the water crisis on Tuesday, May 10, and Wednesday, May 12, in U.S. District Court in Ann Arbor.
The children claim in their lawsuit that they were damaged by Flint water when it contained elevated levels of lead following a change in the city’s water source water from Lake Huron to the Flint River in parts of 2014 and 2015.
Their lawsuit claims the consultants — Veolia North America and Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam — were negligent in their work in Flint and are partially responsible for injuries they suffered, including brain damage.
Veolia and LAN have questioned the children’s injuries and said the water crisis was caused by city and state officials, who made the decision to switch Flint’s water source without having the capacity to treat river water so that it was safe to drink.
The companies say emergency managers, acting at the direction of the Governor’s Office and Michigan Department of Treasury, repeatedly rejected efforts to reconnect the city to the Detroit water system, which for decades sold pre-treated Lake Huron water to Flint.
Krishnan, who earned a doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of Florida and who practices near Grand Rapids, told the 10-person jury hearing the case that she interviewed the four children, tested them and reviewed medical and school records, concluding “it is more likely than not they (suffered) acquired brain injuries.”
Among the deficits she noted among the four — hyperactivity, impulsivity and weaknesses in various subject matters in the classroom.
Those problems can amplify over time, Krishnan said, making it more difficult for them to achieve high school graduation and to perform well on the job in the future.
One of the children, she said, showed impairments that “very rarely would be seen in a random sampling of children from the community … who didn’t have some sort of brain injury.”
Another of the children answered questions with “wildly wrong answers to questions,” she said.
Krishnan did not testify what caused the brain injuries she said the children have suffered, and an attorney for Veolia questioned her on Wednesday about test results showing that in some cases the children were academically at or above their grade levels.
A Purdue University professor testified previously that each of the four children had “substantial” concentrations of lead in their bones when they were tested.
Prosecutors are nearing the end of making their case against Veolia and LAN. The companies will each then be able to call their own witnesses before the jury makes its findings.
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