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Judge dismisses water researcher’s defamation lawsuit

March 22, 2019

ROANOKE, Va. (AP) — A judge has ruled that a Virginia Tech researcher who helped expose the Flint, Michigan, water crisis can’t silence critics with a federal defamation lawsuit.

The Roanoke Times reports that U.S. District Court Judge Michael Urbanski dismissed Marc Edwards’ $3 million lawsuit against three critics Wednesday. The engineering professor and a team of students helped expose lead contamination in the city’s water supply in 2015. The suit was sparked by a letter signed by more than 60 Flint residents that accuses Edwards of interfering with efforts to self-organize, abusing authority and insulting them.

Urbanski writes in a 115-page opinion that Edwards’ lawsuit failed to state a valid claim against his critics. He says the statements “plainly qualify as constitutionally protected opinion” and notes no reasonable reader would think it was factual.

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