Residents continue to line up at water giveaways. Members of New Galilean Missionary Baptist Church loaded water into vehicles, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022. Credit: Vickie D. King/Mississippi Today

A class-action lawsuit has been filed on behalf of Jackson residents seeking unspecified damages and to order the city to remove lead contamination, fix supply issues and not charge residents for water until issues are resolved.

The lawsuit, filed Friday, includes as defendants the City of Jackson, its current and former mayors, the former city public works directors, and companies that have contracted with the city “for their involvement in the ruination of the public water system in Jackson,” attorneys said in a statement. The lawsuit is filed on behalf of four residents to represent all customers. It comes after a nearly two-month long boil-water notice lifted only last week, and a complete failure of the system that resulted in loss of water pressure for most of the 200,000 residents it serves for several days in late August and early September. This prompted an emergency state takeover of the system, and a governor’s state of emergency is still in effect.

The lawsuit was filed by the law firms of Gibbs Travis PLLC, Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein LLP, Larry D. Moffet PLLC and Kershaw Talley Barlow PC.

The Jackson Mayor’s Office had no immediate comment on the lawsuit Monday.

There have been three other lawsuits filed over Jackson’s troubled water and sewage system since 2021, including one in October alleging that lead in the water is harmful to children.

READ MORE: Lawyer suing over Jackson water wins $626M settlement in Flint, Michigan

On Monday, a chlorine leak at the city’s main treatment plant resulted in workers being temporarily evacuated.

A statement from lawyers filing the new lawsuit said: “the City of Jackson’s water supply has been neglected for decades, culminating in a complete shutdown in August 2022 that left over 153,000 residents, 82% of whom are Black, without access to running water. These residents lacked safe drinking water, or water for making powdered baby formula, cooking, showering or laundry” and residents could not flush toilets for days.

“We’re suffering because of the lack of leadership and planning by government officials and others,” said Raine Becker, one of the named plaintiffs, in a statement. “The purpose of the lawsuit is to force them to fix the water mess, care for our community that has been put in danger, and put the right systems in place so that this never happens again.”

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Geoff Pender serves as senior political reporter, working closely with Mississippi Today leadership on editorial strategy and investigations. Pender brings 30 years of political and government reporting experience to Mississippi Today. He was political and investigative editor at the Clarion Ledger, where he also penned a popular political column. He previously served as an investigative reporter and political editor at the Sun Herald, where he was a member of the Pulitzer Prize-winning team for Hurricane Katrina coverage. Originally from Florence, Mississippi, Pender is a journalism graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi and has received numerous awards throughout his career for reporting, columns and freedom of information efforts.