If you or someone you love was based at Camp Lejeune in NC between 1957 and 1987, which resulted in illness, side effects, and/or pain and suffering, you are entitled to seek financial damages through a class action suit or individual lawsuit. While your fight for justice in a case of this scale and complexity is likely to be prolonged, you don’t have to bear the financial constraints during the interim period until a settlement is awarded.
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What Happened at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina?
The US Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, NC has been in operation since 1942. With a population of almost 35,000 in 2020, it is the largest Marine base on the East Coast. In 1982, it was first discovered that the drinking water at Camp Lejeune had been dangerously contaminated since 1953 by volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
However, the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry (ATSDR) recognized the problem only in 1997 when it publicly issued a health assessment notice about the contamination.
PCE Contamination at Tarawa Terrace Plant
Investigators found that the water at the Tarawa Terrace water treatment facility was contaminated by a VOC called perchloroethylene (PCE). This hazardous chemical is commonly used for metal de-greasing and dry cleaning. A detailed analysis by the ATSDR showed that the PCE concentrations in the water in the area exceeded the maximum contamination levels (determined by the Environmental Protection Agency) from 1957 to 1987.
TCE Contamination at Hadnot Point Plant
At the Hadnot Point water treatment facility, the primary contaminant was identified as trichloroethylene (TCE). The water in the area also had secondary contaminations, including benzene, TCE, and vinyl chloride. The VOC called TCE is commonly used for cleaning metal components. Investigations showed that the contamination at this plant had occurred from multiple sources and continued to occur from 1953 to 1985.
Beginning of Accountability of the Negligent Parties
In 2019, the Janey Ensminger Act was passed with an aim to compel the Veterans Administration (VA) to accept the shocking findings of the ATSDR regarding the correlation between extensive and prolonged water contamination and the illnesses and injuries suffered by the unsuspecting victims who were exposed to it.
The Act, which sought to ensure accountability to veterans and their loved ones, was named in memory of Janey Ensminger, the daughter of a member of the Marine Corps. Nine-year-old Janey died from leukemia after being exposed to contaminated water at the base. The Act allows for VA benefits for medical care related to Camp Lejeune toxic exposure to be extended to non-military family members.
More Justice is on the Way for the Victims and their Families
In 2021, the Camp Lejeune Justice Act was passed with the aim to deliver further justice to the victims and their families. According to this Act, any person who lived, worked, or was otherwise exposed for at least 30 days between the period of the 1st of August, 1953 and the 31st of December, 1987, has the right to seek financial damages by filing a lawsuit in the US District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina.
Under this Act, a large number of victims are now able to pursue their claims for injury and illness. According to experts, virtually anyone who served in the US Marine Corps, and received combat training, most likely went to Camp Lejeune. Clearly, it’s no longer a state-specific matter restricted to NC law. It is now a federal issue.
Damage to Health Caused by Exposure to PCE & TCE Compounds
Children Exposed “In Utero” (in the Womb)
- Fetal death
- Severe heart defects
- Chronal atresia
- Neural tube defects
- Eye defects or oral cleft defects
What is the Scope of the Damages Sustained by Victims at Camp Lejeune?
The settlement payouts for Camp Lejeune toxic exposure victims are estimated to total approximately $6.7 billion. Individuals who file a claim may receive between $25,000 and $1 million or more, depending on the severity of their illness. In general, those who struggle with more severe illnesses are likely to receive higher settlement amounts. The Office of the Judge Advocate General (JAG) of the Navy’s Tort Claims Unit (TCU) is responsible for processing Camp Lejeune claims.
The specific damages that a claimant could receive from a lawsuit include:
- Medical Expenses: The cost of medical treatment for injuries resulting from exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune.
- Lost Wages: This refers to the income lost due to being unable to work because of the injuries sustained.
- Lost Earning Capacity: The loss of ability to earn income in the future because of various disabilities that resulted from Camp Lejeune-related injuries.
- Diminished Quality of Life: The loss of the ability to participate in activities that you previously enjoyed because of the injuries sustained.
- Damages for Surviving Loved Ones: Surviving loved ones of those who died because of injuries linked to water contamination exposure at the base may be eligible to receive damages for loss of companionship, funeral expenses, and other related costs.
People in All Age Groups Exposed to Contaminated Drinking Water
- Lung cancer
- Bladder cancer
- Breast cancer
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
People in All Age Groups Exposed through Working with PCE or TCE
- Liver cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Cervical cancer
- Biliary cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Ovarian cancer
- Hodgin’s disease
- Neurological damage
Major Injuries Identified as Compensable
The VA has identified a number of signature injuries, which are associated with Camp Lejeune water contamination. Based on research studies, the federal government has now accepted the following list of injuries as having presumptively occurred because of the toxic exposure
- Bladder cancer
- Esophageal cancer
- Breast cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Liver cancer
- Lung cancer
- Adult leukemia
- Multiple myeloma
- Parkinson’s disease
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Myelodysplastic syndromes
- Renal toxicity
- Neurobehavioral effects
- Female infertility
- Hepatic steatosis
- Aplastic anemia
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Here are the latest updates on the Camp Lejeune lawsuits as of May 2023:
May 15th, The first lawsuit settlement loan was approved for payment.
The client, who was stationed at Camp Lejeune from January of 1966 until October of 1977 was awarded $8,000, payable immediately. During his time at Camp Lejeune he contracted renal toxicity and kidney disease from being exposed to the contaminated water.
May 5, 2023: Pressure on DOJ Intensifies as Number of Claims Grows
As the number of toxic water lawsuits related to Camp Lejeune rises, the U.S. government is feeling increasing pressure to address the issue. U.S. District Judge Terrence Boyle expressed frustration with DOJ lawyers’ request for more time and emphasized the urgency of addressing the 900 filed lawsuits. The DOJ is working on a plan to offer reasonable settlements to victims.
May 1, 2023: Camp Lejeune’s Pseudo-Class Action Lawsuit
The Camp Lejeune litigation is evolving into a pseudo-class action lawsuit, which is not technically an MDL class action. The court will establish procedures for consolidating discovery, phased discovery, coordinating expert-related motions, coordinating dispositive motions, bellwether selection, trials, and settlement negotiations. This development is an essential step toward the government offering settlements to victims.
April 20, 2023: Court Grants DOJ Extension
With thousands of plaintiffs filing Camp Lejeune administrative claims and hundreds of toxic water lawsuits in the Eastern District of North Carolina, the DOJ has been granted an extension to file answers to plaintiffs’ complaints until May 31, 2023. This indicates that the court will likely consolidate pretrial proceedings, which will significantly impact the litigation process and pave the way for future Camp Lejeune settlement offers.
April 19, 2023: Judge Demands Swift Progress in Litigation
Judge James C. Dever III emphasized the importance of expediting the Camp Lejeune cases, acknowledging that victims cannot afford to wait for lengthy legal procedures.
April 18, 2023: The Number of Lawsuits Increases
Over 800 Camp Lejeune civil lawsuits are now pending in the Eastern District of North Carolina, with an average of over 20 new cases filed each day. If this pace continues, there could be over 2,000 pending cases by Memorial Day.
April 9, 2023: Camp Lejeune Class Action Requested
Attorneys for both the U.S. government and plaintiffs are requesting that the cases be combined under one judge or that the court manages pretrial proceedings in a coordinated manner as the number of lawsuits grows.
March 28, 2023: Rapid Increase in Lawsuits
In just one week, 179 new Camp Lejeune civil lawsuits were filed in the Eastern District of North Carolina, nearly doubling the number of pending cases.
March 27, 2023: Delays Converting Personal Injury Claims to Wrongful Death Lawsuits
The Department of the Navy has not developed a streamlined system for processing claims, leaving over 20,000 administrative claims unresolved.
March 20, 2023: Warning for Camp Lejeune Claimants Against Scams
Claimants must be cautious of scams attempting to exploit their personal information. No Camp Lejeune cases have been settled or heard in court as of this date.
March 19, 2023: Eased Burden of Proof in Camp Lejeune Lawsuits
The standard of proof for causation in Camp Lejeune lawsuits is lower, making it easier for victims to establish a link between their illness and the contaminated water.
March 12, 2023: Slow Progress in Camp Lejeune Lawsuit Updates
The government has not yet created a system for processing the tens of thousands of anticipated lawsuits, potentially causing further delays.
March 2, 2023: Camp Lejeune Lawsuits Hit 200
Roughly 200 Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuits have been filed so far in the Eastern District of North Carolina Federal Court. Scheduling and trial dates have yet to be determined, while administrative claims continue to grow at a gradual pace, reaching approximately 25,000. It appears that the Judge Advocate General (JAG) of the Department of the Navy has not proposed any settlements, allowing claimants to file lawsuits in federal court.
February 23, 2023: VA Addresses Camp Lejeune Benefit Concerns
Submitting a Camp Lejeune claim under the Pact Act or Camp Lejeune Justice Act will not impact an individual’s eligibility for VA benefits, according to attorney David Barrans representing the VA. The VA has expressed concern that veterans may not apply for disability benefits due to pursuing a Camp Lejeune Justice Act claim.
February 16, 2023: Update on Camp Lejeune Lawsuits and Claims
Following the expiration of the administrative claim deadline for the earliest JAG claims, an additional nine Camp Lejeune Justice Act civil lawsuits were filed in the Eastern District of North Carolina, bringing the total count of lawsuits to 112. JAG recently disclosed receiving over 20,000 administrative claims related to the CLJA.
February 12, 2023: Camp Lejeune Litigation Progresses
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act advanced to the next stage of litigation on February 10, 2023. The Act, which passed on August 10, 2022, granted those affected the right to file claims and subsequent lawsuits for damages caused by contaminated water at the base.
Individuals must file an administrative claim with the Department of the Navy, which then has 180 days to accept, deny, or let the claim expire. If a claim remains unresolved after the 180 days, the individual may proceed with a lawsuit. As of February 10, 2023, thousands of initial administrative claims have expired without resolution, leading to the expectation that the Eastern District of North Carolina Federal Court will soon see a surge in lawsuits