Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Claims

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Veterans, family members and civilian workers who became ill from contaminated water at Camp Lejeune may seek compensation for their injuries. Legal options for victims have expanded after recent legislation, namely the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022. An experienced attorney can help individuals understand their legal rights and eligibility to file claims.

01. Claim Eligibility

Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 and Eligibility for Claims

The Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 expands the rights of those who were exposed to contaminated water at the Marine Corps base. Many have developed one of over 40 illnesses because of their exposure. The act establishes a two-year window for eligible victims to file a lawsuit against the United States Government. To be eligible, a person must have:

  • Lived or worked on the base for a minimum of 30 days between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987
  • Developed one or more qualifying conditions

Victims do not need to have been assigned to one of the contaminated areas to be eligible for compensation. For example, if a veteran was assigned to Camp Geiger but trained in a contaminated area of Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days, they may be eligible for compensation.

Without the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022, the federal government could assert immunity in such lawsuits. With the 2022 act, the government waives its availability to assert immunity in these cases. As a result, those impacted by the contaminated water could file a lawsuit against the government.

A statute in North Carolina also had time-barred legal action for victims who did not file a lawsuit within a few years of exposure. The 2022 act’s two-year window overrides that statute. Individuals now have two years from the enactment date in which to file their lawsuits.

02. Filing a Lawsuit

How to File a Camp Lejeune Lawsuit

Any eligible civilian, veteran or family member who lived or worked at Camp Lejeune between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987, may be able to file a lawsuit against the government. Compensation from these lawsuits can help with the costs of disease, deformity or the loss of a loved one due to exposure to contaminated drinking water.

Victims and their attorneys will file these lawsuits with the Federal District Court of Eastern North Carolina, which has exclusive jurisdiction over Camp Lejeune litigation. Individuals who develop a condition related to contaminated Camp Lejeune water should consult an attorney who can file claims in North Carolina.

Health Effects Associated With Contaminated Camp Lejeune Water

  • Aplastic anemia
  • Appendix cancer
  • Bile duct cancer
  • Birth defects (including, but not limited to, choanal atresia, eye defects, low birth weight, neural tube defects and oral cleft defects)
  • Bladder cancer
  • Brain cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Cardiac defects
  • Cervical cancer
  • Colorectal cancer
  • End-stage renal disease
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Female infertility
  • Fetal death
  • Gallbladder cancer
  • Hepatic steatosis
  • Hodgkin lymphoma (Hodgkin disease)
  • Intestinal cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Leukemia
  • Liver cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Major fetal malformations
  • Miscarriage
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Myelodysplastic syndromes
  • Neurobehavioral effects
  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Prostate cancer
  • Renal toxicity (nephrotoxicity)
  • Scleroderma
  • Soft tissue cancer
  • Spinal cancer
  • Thyroid cancer
  • Any other unlisted cancer

History of Camp Lejeune Lawsuits

Before the Camp Lejeune Justice Act passed, hundreds of Camp Lejeune victims filed lawsuits against the U.S. Government. Courts dismissed many of them for technical reasons without considering victims’ injuries. The new law seeks to address the issues that kept these lawsuits from having a fair chance of succeeding.

Plaintiffs in lawsuits filed before the Camp Lejeune Justice Act claimed a variety of injuries resulting from contaminated water. Many of these plaintiffs were unsuccessful at that time. Examples of pre-Camp Lejeune Justice Act lawsuits include:

  • A former Marine filed a $16 million lawsuit after he developed a rare form of breast cancer, which later spread to his lungs. He was stationed at Camp Lejeune from 1957 to 1959.
  • A man born while his family was living at Camp Lejeune sued the government for $6 million. He claimed that exposure to contaminated water in utero resulted in a birth defect that affected his cognitive abilities.
  • A woman lived on base from 1980 to 1983 with her husband, a Marine Corps Corporal. She sued the federal government when she later developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

The government consolidated pretrial proceedings for hundreds of Camp Lejeune lawsuits. In 2016, a court dismissed the approximately 850 consolidated lawsuits. This dismissal included the birth defect and breast cancer victims’ lawsuits above. The court said the injuries occurred too long ago for victims to file lawsuits. The non-Hodgkin lymphoma case was also dismissed at an earlier date.

The Camp Lejeune Justice Act is the result of years of activism from victims of toxic exposure and their representatives. Because of the new law, impacted families will now have real opportunities for compensation through lawsuits against the government.

The law provides a two-year window to file Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuits. This new statute of limitations means victims’ lawsuits cannot be dismissed just because they happened a long time ago. Victims who have already received VA benefits may also be eligible to seek additional compensation through a Camp Lejeune Justice Act lawsuit.

03. Compensation

Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Compensation

Anyone who has experienced one or more of the above illnesses or another serious disease following time spent at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune may want to speak with an experienced attorney at a national law firm. They may be eligible for compensation. For instance, victims may be able to receive settlements from Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuits.

A lawyer with experience in Camp Lejeune cases can explain the legal process and help victims understand their rights. The Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 does not allow punitive damages. But compensatory damages above any VA benefits paid to date would be available for claimants. Compensatory damages include:

  • Diminished earning capacity
  • Diminished enjoyment of life
  • Lost wages
  • Medical treatment
  • Pain and suffering

Other military bases are suspected of exposing Marine Corps veterans and civilians to contaminated water. Camp Lejeune is the first that the U.S. Government agreed not to assert any claim to immunity for damages caused by contaminated water there. This means any individual harmed by exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune would be able to seek justice and compensation through this historic decision.

04. Legislation History

History of Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Legislation

Camp Lejeune’s drinking water has long been known to have contained elevated levels of dangerous chemicals. In 1980, the Marine Corps discovered excessive levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the water. VOCs are known to cause different types of cancer and other serious health issues in humans.

Volatile Organic Compounds Found in Camp Lejeune’s Water Supply

Three separate water treatment plants that served Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune supplied water with a high concentration of VOCs. These harmful substances included:

  • Benzene
  • Tetrachloroethylene (also called perchloroethylene or PCE)
  • Trans-1,2-dichloroethylene (DCE)
  • Trichloroethylene (TCE)
  • Vinyl chloride

Most of the contaminated wells were shut down by 1985. But service members, their family members and other civilian workers at the base had been drinking contaminated water for decades. It is estimated that more than one million people consumed contaminated water while at Camp Lejeune.

The Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012 established cost-free health care for several qualifying health conditions. Eligibility for these claims requires a person to serve more than 30 days at the base between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987. As part of the 2012 act, any qualifying veteran could receive all their health care through the VA. A presumptive service connection was established for veterans, reservists and National Guardsmen exposed to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune during the qualifying dates and for the following diseases:

  • Adult leukemia
  • Aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes
  • Bladder cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
  • Parkinson’s disease

A presumptive service connection is a term the VA uses for situations where it presumes a veteran’s illness, injury or condition is a result of their military service.

The Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012 also established cost-free health care for other qualifying health conditions. Any veteran who was on active duty for at least 30 days between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987, may qualify if they develop certain conditions. These conditions include:

  • Bladder cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Female infertility
  • Hepatic steatosis
  • Kidney cancer
  • Leukemia
  • Lung cancer
  • Miscarriage
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Myelodysplastic syndromes
  • Neurobehavioral effects
  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
  • Renal toxicity
  • Scleroderma

In August 2022, the Camp Lejeune Justice Act became law. The law expands the rights of Camp Lejeune victims exposed to contaminated water. It is part of the larger Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act.

Now, Camp Lejeune victims with health problems have until August 2024 to file a lawsuit against the government. It does not matter how long ago the exposure to contaminated water occurred, as long as it was within the August 1953 – December 1987 window.

Even victims who received or are receiving VA benefits may be eligible to file a lawsuit. These victims can talk to a lawyer to determine if they may be eligible for additional compensation.

05. Common Questions

Common Questions About Camp Lejeune Contaminated Water Claims

What is the status of the Camp Lejeune Justice Act?

The Senate passed the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 and the larger Honoring Our PACT Act in August 2022. The president signed it into law on August 10, 2022.

How can someone file a claim for Camp Lejeune water contamination?

Anyone who believes their illness or injury was caused by toxic water at Camp Lejeune should speak with an attorney at an experienced law firm. An attorney with experience handling Camp Lejeune cases can provide guidance on what legal options may be available.

Are Camp Lejeune claims being denied?

So far, VA benefit claims associated with Camp Lejeune do not have a high approval rating. In February 2022, a CBS News report found the average rate of approved claims for Camp Lejeune is 17.3%. The yearly approval rate has fluctuated greatly, with only 1% of claims approved in 2015, while 24.3% were approved in 2022. Working with an experienced lawyer can help ensure your claim is successful.

Are civilian employees eligible for a Camp Lejeune settlement?

Anyone who lived or worked on Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune during the period of contamination may have legal rights to compensation if they were injured or became sick. This includes civilian employees and dependents who lived on base, including while in utero. Anyone who believes their injuries or illness came from contaminated water will need to meet certain qualifications. This may include being present on base for more than 30 days between August 1953 and December 1987. An experienced attorney familiar with Camp Lejeune cases can help victims understand their rights.

How can I find out if I’m eligible to receive compensation for my injury?

Those who were injured from time spent at Camp Lejeune may choose to seek compensation for their injuries. Possible victims of contaminated water should consult an attorney to see if they meet specific criteria. This includes:

  • Having lived or worked on the Camp Lejeune base between August 1953 and December 1987 for at least 30 days
  • Developing one of the qualifying conditions

It is important for anyone who believes they have been affected by the contamination to contact an experienced attorney. An attorney who has handled Camp Lejeune cases may be able to help victims get compensation for their injuries.

How much time do I have to file a Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuit?

The normal North Carolina statutes of limitations for personal injury and wrongful death do not apply to Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuits. The Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 provides victims of the base’s contamination two years to file after its enactment. Veterans and family members who develop a disease associated with the water contamination should speak to a lawyer as soon as possible to get their cases started.

Will the VA back pay for Camp Lejeune water contamination injuries?

In some cases, the VA may provide back pay for successful disability compensation claims. A lawyer with experience securing compensation for veterans’ injuries can help navigate these questions and get you the compensation you deserve.

What areas of Camp Lejeune were affected by the contamination?

The water contamination came from three affected water treatment plants, so only some areas of the base were impacted. Unfortunately, the contamination mainly affected residential areas. These areas included:

  • Barracks and other bachelor’s quarters
  • Berkeley Manor
  • Hadnot Point
  • Hospital Point
  • Knox Trailer Park
  • Midway Park
  • Paradise Point
  • Tarawa Terrace
  • Watkins Village

Possible exposure could have happened between August 1953 and December 1987. Anyone who lived or worked on base for 30 days or more and has developed a qualifying health condition may want to consult an attorney experienced in handling Camp Lejeune cases.

What if I wasn’t assigned to or did not live in a contaminated area?

You may still be eligible for compensation even if you weren’t assigned to a contaminated area or did not reside there. Veterans and their families may have spent 30 days or more in contaminated areas for a number of reasons including, but not limited to, training, schooling and recreational activities.

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