Priscilla Sterling is a teacher at Murray High School in Jackson, Miss., and has had “several of her children diagnosed with lead poisoning,” a class action lawsuit over Jackson’s water system alleges. Sterling joined three others as plaintiffs in the case against the City of Jackson, Mayor Chokwe A. Lumumba, former Mayor Tony Yarber, previous public works department leaders and two companies—Siemens and Trilogy Engineering Services.
A press release on the lawsuit indicated that it is “seeking injunctive relief and monetary damages against various government and private engineering defendants over the neglect, mismanagement, and maintenance failures that led to an environmental catastrophe leaving over 153,000 Jackson-area residents without access to safe running water.”
“The lawsuit seeks immediate injunctive relief, including the removal and remediation of lead pipes and fixtures, an adequate water supply delivered to each home until the water supply is safe for consumption, and an injunction entered to stop all Jackson residents from paying for the contaminated water, as well as compensatory, punitive, exemplary damages.”
The plaintiffs filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi in Jackson on Sept. 16, 2022. After a request for comment on the lawsuit, Jackson Director of Communications Melissa Faith Payne told the Mississippi in a Sept. 19, 2022 email that “Due to pending litigation… the City has no comment.”
The lawsuit alleged that the City suffered a loss of revenue following a botched attempt from Siemens to revamp the water billing system, followed by the company’s settlement for “$90 million, reflecting nearly the entire original value of the contract,” the lawsuit says.
“But after attorneys’ fees and loan payments/reserves, that amount was not sufficient to rectify the damage the Siemens Defendants caused to the PWS of the City of Jackson,” it added. The preceding conduct by the Siemens Defendants’ conduct caused the City of Jackson’s PWS to deteriorate, which contributed to the failure to provide safe water.”
Trilogy Engineering Services advised the city on corrosion control in
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