Skip to Content

Centre for Environmental Rights - Advancing Environmental Rights in South Africa

Support Us Like us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter

Virtual Library

Home>Judgments>Foreign and International Courts

Boler et al v Earley et al

28 July 2017

United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

Case nos. 16-1684/17-1144

Date: 28 July 2017

Judges: Cole, Chief Judge; Stranch and Donald, Circuit Judges

This matter relates to the Flint water contamination crisis of 2015/16. It is preceded by a report by the Michigan Civil Rights Commission entitled The Flint Crisis: Systemic Racism Through the Lens of Flint (17 February 2017) in which it was found that the Flint water crisis was “the result of systemic racism.”

In this matter, the plaintiffs, Flint residents affected by the water crisis, filed suit against Flint officials based on multiple causes of action, including gross negligence and constitutional provisions such as the Equal Protection Clause, the Contract Clause and the Due Process Clause. The District Court held that claims were preempted by the Safe Water Drinking Act (SWDA).

On appeal, the Appeals Court overturned the District Court’s finding. It found that the constitutional rights relied on by the plaintiffs diverged significantly from the rights and protections provided for in the SWDA.

Download the opinionĀ 


Section 24 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996

Everyone has the right to an environment that is not harmful to their health or well-being; and to have the environment protected, for the benefit of present and future generations, through reasonable legislative and other measures that prevent pollution and ecological degradation; promote conservation; and secure ecologically sustainable development and use of natural resources while promoting justifiable economic and social development.

Report a Violation

National Environmental Crimes & Incidents Hotline (24 hours): 0800 205 005

In addition, there are a number of national and provincial hotlines that may be useful.

Contact us

  • Address:Cape Town: Second Floor, Springtime Studios, 1 Scott Road, Observatory, 7925, Cape Town - View map
  • Address:Johannesburg: Ninth Floor, Southpoint Corner, 87 De Korte Street, Braamfontein, 2001, Johannesburg - View map