Lawyers are defending the use of a handheld device to test for lead in Flint residents, despite the manufacturer’s warning that it wasn’t designed for that job.
The bone scan device has been a source of controversy in a $641 million settlement with people exposed to lead-contaminated water in Flint.
Some doctors believe the device to be risky, especially for children. Meanwhile, lawyers without access have complained that their clients could be denied higher compensation without bone scan results.
The manufacturer, Thermo Fisher Scientific, said in a letter on May 12 that the device was not designed to measure bone levels in people, although the company has supported research with universities on “limited opportunities”. The company’s website says the device is generally intended for mining and exploration.
The Detroit Free Press reported that the letter was sent to the Napoli Shkolnik law firm, which has used the device extensively on Flint clients.
“It’s a very powerful statement, because the manufacturer will obviously make more money selling more of these,” said Mark Cooker, a rival attorney in Flint who provided the letter to the newspaper.
In a recent court filing, attorneys Paul Napoli and Corey Stern defended the device and attached affidavits from experts.
“There is no risk to patients using this device and no lead shielding is required when taking the test,” said Yuvonia Spites-Beaugard, director of radiology services at Hurley Medical Center in Flint. Exhibited.
Thousands of Flint residents have signed up for a portion of a $641 million lawsuit settlement, mostly paid by the state of Michigan for lead-contaminated water and a deadly outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in 2014-15.
The agreement has received preliminary approval by a federal judge, but there is much work to do, including a fair trial in July.
Cooker complains that only Napoli customers have access to the bone scan device.
Dr Lawrence Reynolds, a Flint pediatrician who has objected to the device, said there is no evidence anyone was harmed, but he considers the use unethical. Dr. Mona Hanna-Atisha, who is credited with helping uncover the Flint water crisis, also opposes the use of scanners.
Bone scan results are not required to make a claim in a Flint settlement, but residents “can voluntarily go through that process based on the advice of their attorneys,” said Lynsey Mucomel, a spokeswoman for the Michigan attorney general.