Camp Lejeune Claims

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Camp Lejeune Lawsuit & Litigation Info

Camp Lejeune is a storied Marine Corps base camp in Jacksonville, North Carolina, where forces from around the world go to train. Unfortunately, however, it’s better known today for something very different: an infamous scandal involving contaminated water.

The scandal revealed decades of toxic water exposure for people who had lived on the base. More recently, as a result of new laws introduced through the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022, it led to a litigation process focused on helping the victims of contaminated water. The story has its beginnings many decades earlier, though, going all the way back to the early ’50s.

A Brief Look At Events.

A Timeline of Toxic Water Exposure at Camp Lejeune

The tragedy of Camp Lejeune played out over multiple decades. It involved systemic failures in leadership and safety on the base, followed by several failures of American law to provide justice. 

This timeline is truncated but makes clear a pattern of denial and obscured behavior that may have continued throughout the period of contamination. Attempts to bring litigation against the government for injuries linked to these exposures were stymied until the recent passage of the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, which we’ll discuss below.

Chemical Breakdown.

Toxic Chemicals in the Water

The various tests that took place at Camp Lejeune’s wells and water treatment plants identified contamination by four major chemicals:

  1. Trichloroethylene or TCE: A solvent used for cleaning metal parts
  2. Tetrachloroethylene or PCE: Used for metal degreasing and dry cleaning
  3. Vinyl chloride or VC: A volatile organic compound produced over time by TCE and PCE degrading in groundwater
  4. Benzene: A chemical used in the industrial processes that manufacture plastics, resins and synthetics

Research by the ATSDR eventually determined that the Tarawa Terrace water treatment plant was primarily a site of PCE contamination between 1957 and 1987, possibly connected to waste disposal by an off-base dry cleaning company. The Hadnot Point treatment plant was contaminated by TCE, PCE, byproduct VC and benzene, between 1953 and 1985. The causes of contamination here were more diverse, including leakage from storage tanks underground, waste disposal and industrial spills. 

As a result of these revelations, the ATSDR now contends that these exposures “likely increased the risk of cancers (kidney, multiple myeloma, leukemias, and others), adverse birth outcomes, and other adverse health effects of residents.” 

In 2012, the Janey Ensminger Act authorized the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide treatment for ailments contracted as a possible result of this acute contamination, which occurred in concentrations ranging from 240 to 3,400 times safe levels. The medical conditions covered include numerous types of cancer. They also include renal toxicity, female infertility and miscarriage, scleroderma, and various neurobehavioral effects.

While the Janey Ensminger Act provided a degree of healthcare relief for approximately 750,000 of Camp Lejeune’s victims, it didn’t provide a path for legal action and financial compensation. An effective avenue for water contamination litigations and wrongful death claims awaited a much more recent piece of legislation, called the Camp Lejeune Justice Act.

Stay Up To Date.

Latest Updates

The first Camp Lejeune lawsuits in the wake of the PACT Act and the CLJA are set to reach courtrooms in 2024. There are over 1,000 such cases pending, and none are currently settled. 

In hopes of speeding up the results, an early settlement program is available in which cases are grouped into two tiers of possible settlement amounts, based on the severity of the injuries to the plaintiffs and the length of their exposure. In other words, the longer a plaintiff was living on the base’s contaminated water supply and the worse their connected condition, the larger the payout they’re eligible for becomes.

This early settlement program provides immediate payment, with the drawback that the settlement amount is likely a lot lower than a plaintiff may get from going to trial. Not every plaintiff will be eligible, as this program applies to only nine specific diseases or qualifying injuries. A good lawyer may be able to advise you about the better option in your case.

It’s still possible to file a water contamination lawsuit under the CLJA. When you do so, you’ll want to connect with a law firm that has experience handling toxic contamination cases. 

Seeking Justice.

The Camp Lejeune Justice Act

The government resisted admitting liability for the contamination at Camp Lejeune for many years. The first crack in that dam appeared in 2010 in the case of Paul Buckley, a Marine veteran stationed at the base in the 1980s. The Department of Veterans Affairs determined his incurable cancer to be directly linked to the contaminated water, leading to the award of full disability benefits. 

The first Camp Lejeune lawsuits began unfolding in 2009 with a claim by Laura Jones, wife of a former Marine. The coming years saw individual claims and a class action lawsuit for $4 billion, none of which were successful. The government could assert a specific immunity from litigation, and the filing of the class action case in particular ran afoul of a statute of limitations.

In 2017, the VA approved a $2.2 billion fund to fulfill claims for disability compensation related to Camp Lejeune, although it has been easier said than done for seemingly eligible veterans to successfully apply.

In 2021, the Camp Lejeune Justice Act was drafted to address the barriers to successful litigation by veterans of Camp Lejeune. However, it wasn’t passed and signed into law until 2022, when it became Section 706 of the SFC Heath Robinson Honoring Our PACT Act.

As a result of this law, veterans who were exposed to toxic chemicals at Lejeune, can sue and recover damages commensurate with their harm. They can do this in the confidence that the government is prohibited from asserting immunity to litigation. The act also provides a more lenient time window for filing.

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We're Here to Help You

You may be eligible for a Camp Lejeune lawsuit if you lived at the base for more than 30 days between August 1953 and December 1987, and if you developed a life-altering condition that you believe is connected. This applies to both civilians and service members. For veterans, you cannot have been dishonorably discharged from the military.

When filing this kind of suit, the burden of proof is on you as the plaintiff to provide medical records that support a connection between your condition and the water contamination. Good legal advice is important in determining what's necessary. 

Camp Lejeune's water contamination has allegedly been linked to a wide variety of cancers. These include leukemia, multiple myeloma and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, as well as cancers of the esophagus, lungs, breast, bladder and kidney.

Plaintiffs in the Camp Lejeune lawsuit who decide to avail themselves of the early settlement program are divided into two tiers based on the severity of their illness and duration of exposure. These payouts range from $100,000 to $450,000. What the average payout will be for claimants who go to trial remains to be seen, but a competent lawyer may be able to assay an educated estimate based on the specifics of your claim.

No matter how long ago you lived at Camp Lejeune, injuries from the contamination can be a permanent challenge to your quality of life. You deserve fair compensation, and the CLJA provides an opportunity to achieve that. The first step is finding expert attorneys who can guide you through the process of filing a claim. If you're not sure where to start, a referral service can help.

Camp Lejeune water contamination cases are generally expected to take up to 2 years to resolve. If you're eligible, you should get the process started as soon as possible.

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Helpful Resources & Articles

Can You Sue the VA? Know Your Rights

Can You Sue the VA? Know Your Rights

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A presumptive condition is a disease or condition that the government presumes occurred because of…

Water Contamination at Camp Lejeune: History and Health Issues

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