A family in Flint, Michigan, is suing the city after their 2-year-old daughter ended up with high levels of lead in her blood.
In the court filing, Luke Waid and his fiancee, Michelle Rodriguez, accuse city officials of lying to them about the city’s water supply and putting their daughter’s health at risk.
At her annual physical, doctors detected high levels of lead in Sophia Waid’s blood work when she was 1 year old. Doctors told the family it must be something in their home causing the problem.
Luke Waid, a welder by trade, told Fox News Latino that moved his family into a hotel for three weeks while he and his father worked on the house.
"We put in all new windows, encapsulated the house in sheet rock, put on new trim, rented a Hepa vacuum [to remove allergens] and vacuumed the entire yard, put in new carpet and sanded the hardwood floors. We didn't even allow her to play outside. We moved back into the house and took her to be re-tested, and her levels were even higher than before," Waid said.
The family went to live with Rodriguez's sister. After three months at her sister's house – which has a well – Sophia's lead levels finally started to drop.
New York attorney Hunter Shkolnik, who filed the latest lawsuit Monday on behalf of the now 2-year-old toddler, "I believe officials knew that when they changed the water and didn't add the necessary treatment, it's dangerous. It's not new. You don't put water out without treatment," Shkolnik told Fox News Latino.
The Waid family have another child, Luke, who is just two months old. They are waiting on tests to determine if he has lead in his blood. Rodriguez did drink the Flint water supply during the first trimester of her pregnancy but stopped when she found out the water was contaminated.
"It's gross negligence, and officials should be ashamed," Shkolnik said. "The city saved money on acquisition costs by not treating the water. You make money selling water."
Luke Waid said he feared losing custody of his daughter when blood tests revealed that she had elevated levels of lead. Those tests were performed before Flint's water supply was widely known to be tainted.
The city's supply was switched from Detroit water to the Flint River as a cost-saving measure in 2014, when Flint was under state-appointed emergency management.
Lead affects the central nervous system, especially in children aged 6 and younger and can cause learning problems and hyperactivity.
"Sophia is fussy and irritable. I'm not a doctor, but it's obvious something is wrong with her. It's sad. I don't know if this is normal. If she'll get better or worse," Waid said.
The lawsuit, which seeks an unspecified financial award, is one of at least seven involving Flint that have been filed in state or federal court. It's the first by Shkolnik and co-counsel McKeen, but the lawyers plan to file more.
"I don't look forward to taking the government to court. But what if in two years she gets a $10,000 doctor's bill, and we can't pay it," Waid said. "It was a slap in our face that we were being lied to. They just swept it under the rug. We're doing this for our daughter."
The Waids have bought a house across town and say they don't know what to do with their old one. The don't want to rent it out, fearing that it isn't safe for another family. Luke Waid says he doesn't think they'll stay in Flint much longer.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
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