Camp Lejeune Liver Cancer
Camp Lejeune is a 156,000-acre military training facility in Jacksonville, North Carolina. From 1953 to 1987, veterans, civilian employees, and their families drank and bathed in water with toxin concentration levels that were 280 times higher than safe numbers.
Authorities found that two water wells contained trichloroethylene (TCE), perchloroethylene (PCE), benzene, vinyl chloride, and other hazardous compounds. These toxic chemicals in the camp’s water supply are associated with several cancers and other chronic illnesses, including liver cancer.
An estimated one million people may have been exposed to contaminated drinking water for over 30 years. If you or a loved one were one of them and developed liver cancer later in life, you may be entitled to financial compensation.
The personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyer, LLC can help you pursue justice against responsible parties. Contact our product liability lawyers at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) for a free case evaluation.
All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team will remain private under an attorney-client relationship.
Why Was the Water Contaminated at Camp Lejeune?
In the 1970s, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) deemed Lejeune a “major polluter.” Records show that the Marine Corps disposed of oil and industrial wastewater in the storm drains, which were common at the time. Radioactive materials, including carcasses of dogs used for testing, may have been buried in the ground.
A nearby dry-cleaning business was a significant source of water contamination at the base. It dumped wastewater containing chemicals used in dry cleaning into the drains, including tetrachloroethylene, PCE, and another suspected carcinogen used by the Corps to clean machinery.
Military chemists began testing the drinking water at Camp Lejeune in October 1980. Tests found trace levels of organic compounds in treated water. However, the camp did nothing further after receiving the results.
In 1982, Grainger Laboratories in Raleigh, North Carolina, tested the water at Camp Lejeune. Scientists found “synthetic organic solvents” in the water from two of the base’s largest residential areas, where thousands of service workers and family members lived. Again, the alerts were not heard by officials.
Two years later, chemists tested the wells directly. They found that water in one of the wells had dangerously high gasoline levels. The news of the water contamination was made public. Then, ten wells were closed in late 1984 and 1985.
Health Effects of Contaminated Drinking Water at Camp Lejeune
According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), routine water treatment plant sampling identified the following volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in some of the base’s water wells:
- Trichloroethylene (TCE): Used for cleaning metal parts.
- Perchloroethylene (PCE): Used for dry cleaning and metal degreasing.
- Vinyl chloride (VC): TCE and PCE degrade into VC in groundwater over time.
- Benzene: Used to make other chemicals used for manufacturing plastics, nylons, resins, and synthetic fibers.
Exposure to these chemicals can increase the risk of developing certain diseases. The following are health effects with sufficient scientific evidence for disease causation from the harmful chemicals found in Camp Lejeune’s water:
- Kidney cancer
- Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
- Cardiac defects
- Bladder cancer
- Liver cancer
- Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
These substances may also increase the risk of other diseases, but there is insufficient scientific evidence to support a link between the disease and exposure. These diseases include but are not limited to:
- Multiple myeloma
- End-stage renal disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Breast cancer
- Brain cancer
- Cervical cancer
- Ovarian cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Rectal cancer
- Fatty liver disease
- Lung cancers
However, not everyone exposed to contaminated water develops health issues. The effects of chemical exposure depend on:
- When you were exposed to the contaminated water (e.g., during childhood, pregnancy, etc.)
- How much you were exposed
- How long you were exposed
- How you were exposed (e.g., via drinking, bathing, etc.)
- Personal traits and habits
What Is Liver Cancer?
Liver cancer is one of the potential health effects of drinking the water at Camp Lejeune.
The liver is responsible for processing the blood. It breaks down, balances, and creates the nutrients in our body and metabolizes drugs into forms that are easier to utilize. The liver is also essential to protein synthesis and storage of vitamins and minerals.
Liver cancer occurs when the DNA in liver cells changes or mutates. DNA mutations can lead to cells growing uncontrollably, forming a mass of cancerous cells (tumor).
Symptoms of Liver Cancer
Most people do not experience signs and symptoms in the early stages of liver cancer. In later stages, signs and symptoms may include:
- Loss of appetite
- Upper abdominal pain
- Unexplained weight loss
- Nausea and vomiting
- Weakness and fatigue
- Abdominal swelling
- White, chalky stools
- Yellow appearance of the skin and the whites of the eyes (jaundice)
Risk Factors of Liver Cancer
Aside from exposure to toxic chemicals, the following risk factors can lead to an increased risk of liver cancer:
- Chronic Hepatitis B or C infections
- Cirrhosis (scar tissue forming in the liver)
- Certain genetic liver diseases (e.g., Wilson’s disease, hemochromatosis)
- Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
- Excessive alcohol consumption
Liver Cancer Diagnosis
Doctors diagnose liver cancer through:
- Blood tests
- Imaging tests (e.g., ultrasound, MRI, CT scan)
- Liver biopsy
Once your doctor diagnoses liver cancer, the next step is to determine the cancer stage using staging tests.
Liver Cancer Treatment
Treatment for liver cancer depends on the stage of the disease and your overall health. Liver cancer treatments may include:
- Liver transplant
- Freezing or heating cancer cells
- Injecting alcohol into the tumor
- Injecting chemotherapy medication into the tumor
- Placing beads with radiation directly into the liver
- Radiation therapy
- Targeted drug therapy
- Palliative care to relieve the signs and symptoms of liver cancer
Early diagnosis is the key to effective treatment for liver cancer. The earlier you catch and treat the disease, the better your chances for recovery and survival.
VA Compensation for Camp Lejeune Liver Cancer
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides disability compensation to veterans injured in service or dealing with illnesses due to military service. Usually, a veteran must prove the connection of their service and their current illnesses or disabilities using:
- A current diagnosis
- An in-service event that led to the disability
- A link between an in-service event and the current medical diagnosis
Veterans who developed liver cancer from the contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune do not need to provide as much proof since their illness or disability is a presumptive condition.
Presumptive Service Connection for Camp Lejeune Liver Cancer
Scientific evidence shows that specific disabilities and illnesses are likely caused by contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, including liver cancer. A veteran should be granted service connection from the VA if they can prove that:
- They were stationed at the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune for 30 or more cumulative days between August 1953 – December 1987
- They have a current medical diagnosis of liver cancer
Receiving Compensation for Liver Cancer Caused by Camp Lejeune Water Contamination
Active-duty personnel, Reserve, and National Guard members may qualify for disability compensation if they meet the above criteria and were not dishonorably discharged from the US military.
Families of veterans who lived at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune and developed liver cancer could also receive compensation.
You can apply for disability benefits by:
- Using the VA website, indicating that you’re applying for disability compensation for Camp Lejeune-related liver cancer
- Providing evidence of your illness, such as medical records and test results
- Providing evidence that you served at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune for at least 30 cumulative days from August 1953 and December 1987
You are still entitled to your existing VA benefits even if you report your illness or file a case.
Your Camp Lejeune liver cancer attorney can help you apply for benefits and discuss further options during your free consultation.
Recovering Fair Compensation
Not all veterans exposed to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune and developed liver cancer later in life receive fair disability benefits. Some applications are denied, while some veterans receive a low disability rating from the VA. Your disability rating will affect how much you receive in disability benefits.
If either of these scenarios happens, you could file an appeal with the help of a VA lawyer. Your camp Lejeune water contamination lawyer can help you prove service connection and the extent of your illness’ severity to ensure you receive the maximum VA disability benefits to which you may be entitled.
Filing a Camp Lejeune Lawsuit
The US Senate passed The Camp Lejeune Justice Act on August 2, 2022, allowing victims of contaminated water at Camp Lejeune to file lawsuits pursuing damages. The Act was cleared as part of the Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act of 2021, a bill designed to improve health care benefits for veterans exposed to toxic chemicals while in service.
Previously, victims of water contamination at Camp Lejeune were barred from filing legal claims. The US Navy claimed that there was no legal mechanism for pursuing damages from the military. With the passing of the Camp Lejeune Act, victims and their families are now eligible to file a Camp Lejeune lawsuit.
By filing a claim or lawsuit, you could receive compensation for:
- Medical expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of quality of life
- Wrongful death
A Camp Lejeune liver cancer attorney can help you determine what legal action you need to take to receive disability benefits for your disease.
Consult a Camp Lejeune Liver Cancer Attorney Today
Camp Lejeune was one of the worst cases of water contamination in US history. Thousands of military members, civilian employees, and their families were exposed to dangerous amounts of chemicals in the water they used daily. Sadly, many of these people would suffer the severe health effects of contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, including liver cancer.
Did you or a loved one develop liver cancer from the Camp Lejeune water contamination? If so, you may be entitled to financial compensation from the US military.
The experienced lawyers at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, can serve as your legal advocates in your pursuit of justice. No one should suffer from liver cancer without at least being compensated for it, regardless of how much time has passed.
Contact our law offices at (888) 424-5757 for a free consultation. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team will remain private under an attorney-client relationship.
Our lawyers handle all accepted Camp Lejeune water contamination cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning you don’t have to pay for our legal services unless we win your case.