Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawsuit
Camp Lejeune is a United States of America Marine Corps base in Jacksonville, North Carolina. It’s the largest concentration of marines and sailors in the world, as it is also home to a Marine Corps Air Station, New River. Almost 100,000 live and work around Camp Lejeune at present, with millions having lived or served there since 1941.
From the 1950s to the 1980s, the base was unknowingly contaminated with cancer-causing chemicals, leading to numerous leukemia cases and other cancers in military members and their families who lived or worked there. With the help of Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, all victims can file a Camp Lejeune lawsuit.
Do You Qualify for the Camp Lejeune Lawsuit?
The Camp Lejeune exposure occurred because of multiple issues. An off-base dry-cleaning firm had poor waste disposal practices that resulted in two of the eight water treatment plants on the base becoming contaminated. Industrial area spills, leaking underground storage tanks, and waste disposal sites also contributed to the problem.
Victims have only recently started receiving recognition and compensation for their illnesses, but many are still fighting for justice.
Were you or a loved one ever stationed at Camp Lejeune? Knowing if you were exposed to these dangerous chemicals is crucial to taking steps to protect your future health.
The personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC are legal advocates for current and past service members and their families working and living at Camp Lejeune.
Call our product liability lawyers at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form today for immediate legal advice. Schedule a free consultation to learn more about your options.
All confidential or sensitive information you share with your Camp Lejeune lawsuit attorney remains private through an attorney-client relationship.
The Hidden Truth: Camp Lejeune’s Contaminated Water Crisis and Military Inaction
A Brief History of Camp Lejeune
Camp Lejeune, established in 1941, is a Marine Corps base in Jacksonville, North Carolina. Spanning over 150,000 acres, it has been a critical training ground for military personnel, preparing them for various missions and deployments worldwide.
The base has been home to countless Marines and their families, making it essential to provide a safe and healthy environment for all its inhabitants.
Discovery of Contamination at Camp Lejeune
The Camp Lejune water contamination dates back to the early 1950s and continued until 1987. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including benzene, trichloroethylene (TCE), and tetrachloroethylene (PCE), were found in the water supply.
These noxious chemicals originated from various sources, including leaking underground storage tanks, industrial spills, and inadequate water treatment plants. The Camp Lejeune water has been linked to severe health issues, including kidney cancer, leukemia, and birth defects.
Military Concealment and Inaction
Despite evidence of contamination, military officials at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina failed to take appropriate action to address the issue.
Reports suggest that some high-ranking officers were aware of the contamination but chose to downplay or even cover up the problem, prioritizing the base’s operations over the health and safety of its inhabitants.
Notable figures involved in the case include Major General J.K. Davis, who served as the commanding general of Camp Lejeune from 1982 to 1984. Under his leadership, the Marine Corps failed to promptly notify base residents and workers about the contaminated water, and no immediate steps were taken to address the issue.
The military’s inaction persisted until the 1980s when pressure from environmental agencies and whistleblowers brought the issue to light. The discovery of the contamination led to a series of investigations and the eventual closure of polluted treatment plants for water.
However, the harm had already been done, with thousands of Camp Lejeune veterans, residents, and workers exposed for decades.
Camp Lejeune Administrative Responses To Contaminated Water
In a 2010 hearing at the 111th Congressregarding the Camp Lejeune water contamination, the United States Marine Corps used a variety of arguments to avoid taking responsibility for their negligence in procuring safe drinking water for residents.
Their primary argument was that many of the contaminants found in the water, including benzene, were not regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974 until the late 1980s and early 1990s. In fact, they made this same claim to nearby residents in a December 1984 newspaper article, noting that the organic compounds identified in the water were not listed in the Safe Drinking Water Act.
It’s long been known that benzene poses a serious risk to human health; in 1928, experts had already identified a link between workers exposed to benzene and leukemia. It had not been included in the original Safe Drinking Water Act, but this does not mean that its dangers were unknown at the time.
Camp Lejeune administration had identified the contaminants and knew the risks to public health, but chose to dodge accountability before Congress and other authorities.
The Federal Government’s Response and Road to Justice
It took several years for the federal government to acknowledge the extent of the contamination at Camp Lejeune and its impact on public health.
In 2012, the Janey Ensminger Act was signed into law, providing healthcare benefits to eligible veterans and family members who developed specific illnesses linked to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune. Later, in 2022, the Camp Lejeune Justice Act was passed, permitting affected individuals to file claims and lawsuits for damages caused by the Camp Lejeune water contamination itself.
The long road to justice for victims can be attributed to multiple factors, including the military’s concealment of the issue, bureaucratic obstacles, and the challenge of proving the direct link between the water and various health conditions. Fortunately, the passage of more recent legislation has given victims avenues to file a Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuit and recover compensation for their suffering, either through the TCU, JAG, or North Carolina Federal Court.
Despite progress, thousands of lawsuits and administrative claims are still pending, and the fight for compensation and justice for the victims of Camp Lejeune continues.
Current Update on Water Contamination in Camp Lejeune Lawsuit
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act (CLJA) was passed by a solid majority in the House of Representatives in 2021. The federal law provided victims of Camp Lejeune a right to sue.
Based on the Act, victims may get disability benefits, depending on the level of contaminant exposure and its effects. Other healthcare benefits would include treatment and cancer care.
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act was later introduced in the Senate. As it received immense support from Republicans and Democratic lawmakers, the bill was passed in the Senate and signed into law.
The Honoring Our Pact Act and Its Impact on the Camp Lejeune Justice Act
Senate Approval of the Honoring Our Pact Act
In June 2022, the United States Senate passed the Honoring Our Pact Act, which included a slightly amended version of the Camp Lejeune Justice Act (CLJA) 2022. The bill received overwhelming bipartisan support with an 84-13 vote and was then forwarded to the House of Representatives for further consideration.
Blue Slip Objection and Its Implications
Despite the Senate’s approval, the final passage of the Honoring Our Pact Act, encompassing the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, encountered a significant roadblock in the form of a blue slip objection. This procedural hurdle arose due to the validity of an amendment added by the Senate that incorporated a tax provision.
The House’s Exclusive Authority to Initiate Tax Legislation
The blue slip objection was based on the constitutional principle that only the House of Representatives can initiate tax-related legislation. According to the US Constitution’s Origination Clause (Article I, Section 7, Clause 1), all bills for raising revenue must originate in the House.
The Senate’s inclusion of a tax provision in the amended bill directly conflicted with these constitutional requirements, delaying the legislation’s progress.
Overcoming the Obstacle and Moving Forward
To resolve the blue slip objection and advance the Act, including the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, legislators had to address the constitutional concern by either removing or revising the contested tax provision.
Once the issue was resolved in compliance with the Origination Clause, the bill could proceed through the legislative process, bringing the affected service members and their families one step closer to obtaining justice and compensation for the harm caused by the water at the Marine base.
The House Passes Camp Lejeune Justice Act
On June 12, 2022, the United States House of Representatives passed the Honoring Our Pact Act with a 342-88 vote. The amended bill was returned to the Senate for review.
When finally passed, it allowed Camp Lejeune victims to sue the United States government for damage. Thousands of Camp Lejeune water lawsuits will be filed in the months and years ahead.
The enactment of the Camp Lejeune Justice Act will provide settlement benefits made available to over 1 million United States Marines and their spouses and families exposed to contaminants because they lived on the military base or nearby between 1953 in 1987.
Camp Lejeune Justice Act
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act (CLJA) is a federal bill introduced in the US Senate in March 2017. The bill covering Camp Lejeune and the MASC would provide further healthcare and economic benefits to those affected by Camp Lejeune water.
Bill proponents hoped to establish a commission to investigate the extent of Camp Lejeune water contamination and health effects on those exposed. The bill had bipartisan support while making its way through the legislative process.
Many in Congress hope the Camp Lejeune Justice Act will finally provide the justice and disability compensation that victims and their families deserve.
Camp Lejeune Justice Act, Enacted in August 2022, initiates claims at the District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina.
The Passage of the Camp Lejeune Justice Act
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act, enacted on August 10, 2022, was a hard-fought legislative victory for Camp Lejeune victims. The bill’s passage was slow and arduous, facing numerous hurdles in the Senate before being approved in late summer.
President Joe Biden’s signature marked a significant milestone in the journey toward justice for those affected by the contamination at Camp Lejeune. It is easily one of the most important steps in supporting veterans and their families that have endured years of suffering because of the contamination.
Overcoming the Feres Doctrine Barrier
A significant component of the Camp Lejeune Justice Act is its ability to bypass the Feres Doctrine. This longstanding legal precedent prevents service members from filing a Camp Lejeune lawsuit for injuries sustained during military service.
By creating an exception to the Feres Doctrine, the Act empowers Camp Lejeune’s water contamination crisis victims to earn compensation for their suffering.
Filing Claims in the Eastern District of North Carolina
With the passage of the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, affected individuals gained the right to file their claims in the US District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina.
The legislation provides a two-year window for victims to submit claims related to illnesses and diseases caused by the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune in the North Carolina federal court.
The Process and Requirements for Compensation
To receive compensation in a Camp Lejeune lawsuit, victims must present medical records as proof of their illnesses and establish a link to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune.
The US District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina will review each claim and determine the appropriate compensation based on the severity of the illness and other relevant factors upon verification.
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act has set the stage for thousands of individuals to seek justice and compensation for the detrimental health effects caused by the water contamination at Camp Lejeune. Although the process may be lengthy and challenging, the passage of the Act has created an opportunity for healing and accountability that was previously unattainable.
The Backstory of the Camp Lejeune Justice Act
Camp Lejeune, North Carolina’s water was contaminated with toxic chemicals for over 30 years, from 1953 to 1987. During this time, millions of soldiers stationed at the base and their families were exposed to contaminated well water.
The Camp Lejeune and Hadnot Point water wells were contaminated with dangerous chemicals, including benzene and trichloroethylene (TCE). These chemicals cause dire health effects like bladder cancer and liver diseases.
Today, sufficient scientific evidence proves that the contamination resulted in adverse health effects for individuals exposed to the dangerous water, leading to the Camp Lejeune lawsuit.
The new law allows people stationed at the military base to receive monetary compensation through a fund set up by Congress.
Unraveling the 2023 Camp Lejeune Water Lawsuit Legal Updates
Progress and Obstacles
The number of Camp Lejeune cases filed in the Eastern District of North Carolina Federal Court has reached 200 as of March 2, 2023. Despite the increase in the Camp Lejeune lawsuits filed, there has been no movement regarding scheduling or potential trial dates. This delay has led many other Lejeune victims to miss out on benefits that they rightfully deserve for what they have suffered.
Furthermore, approximately 25,000 administrative claims have been filed to date. The Department of the Navy’s Judge Advocate General (JAG) has not offered payouts for any claims filed, instead allowing the 180-day review period to expire.
The Impact on VA Benefits and the Camp Lejeune Justice Act
Filing a Camp Lejeune Claim under the Pact Act or Camp Lejeune Justice Act will not affect a person’s eligibility for the VA benefits program. The VA has expressed concern about veterans not filing for disability benefits due to pursuing Camp Lejeune Justice Act Claims.
This has led to the VA becoming more active in voicing its position to clarify that pursuing claims related to Camp Lejeune cases will not interfere with their eligibility for other benefits.
As the number of lawsuits and Camp Lejeune administrative claims filed continues to grow, it remains unclear how the legal process will unfold. With the government potentially delaying establishing a system for processing tens of thousands of lawsuits, the road to justice for Camp Lejeune victims may be long and challenging.
US Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune
Camp Lejeune in North Carolina was the home of a US Marine base for over thirty years, and the water on the base has been making military personnel sick for nearly as long.
In 1982, contaminants were discovered in the Camp Lejeune water supply, including benzene, known to cause cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, adult leukemia, aplastic anemia, and other myelodysplastic syndromes.
Many former Camp Lejeune residents believe their health problems are due to this water contamination, and they’re now suing the US government for damages. This realization is disturbing and raises many questions about our military and its responsibility to protect the health of its members and their families.
It’s also a reminder of how crucial it is to be vigilant about our safe drinking water.
The Life-Threatening Water Contamination Problem Affecting Camp LeJeune Residents
Right now, there are approximately 750,000 people who are potentially affected by the water contamination at Camp Lejeune. Between 1953 and 1987, toxins were released into the groundwater from a fuel depot on the base.
The toxic water at Camp Lejeune has led to numerous illnesses in those exposed, including cancer. If you or someone you know is a victim of Camp Lejeune water contamination, you must know your legal options.
A 2007 Contaminated Camp Lejeune Water Report
In the summer of 2007, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) released a report indicating that as many as 950,000 people may have been exposed to carcinogens in the water supply at Camp Lejeune from 1953 to 1987.
Testing found the Camp Lejeune well water has volatile organic compounds, including trichloroethylene (TCE) and benzene. The contamination at Camp Lejeune led to numerous illnesses among veterans and their families living on the military base.
Unfortunately, even today, many people still suffer the consequences of negligent behavior at Camp Lejeune.
The Federal Government Responding to the Contaminated Water Supply Problem
Camp Lejeune water contamination victims have battled the federal government and the Corps for recognition and compensation for years. In 2012, President Obama signed legislation providing those affected $2 billion in medical care and other health care benefits, but more needs to be done.
Military and National Guard victims and their families continue to suffer from illness and economic hardship and deserve fair treatment.
North Carolina Statute of Repose
A North Carolina statute (NCGS § 1-52(16)) has led to many claims being dismissed not for merit but because of the rule of repose, precluding victims from filing a Camp Lejeune lawsuit.
This statute has affected active military members, former military personnel, veterans, National Guard members, and families exposed to the toxic water at the military base. Fortunately, federal laws will likely be enacted soon, circumventing the statute of repose.
This newly enacted law would allow those most harmed to file claims even if they were potentially exposed in utero (in the womb) to the highly carcinogenic chemicals found in the water at Camp Lejeune at any time between August 1953 and December 1987.
By the mid-1980s, the military base closed many toxic water wells after determining the contamination was higher than the EPA’s maximum safe level of PCE (5 ug/L) in drinking water. Early testing revealed a contaminated water supply at Camp Lejeune registered 215 ug/L.
Investigations showed a toxic exposure to individuals working and visiting an off-base dry cleaner years after the Corps knew or should have known about the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune and the surrounding area.
The Camp Lejeune Families Act
This Act is a law passed in 2012 that gives military members and their families access to healthcare benefits if they were stationed at Camp Lejeune and experienced health issues due to exposure to water contamination.
The law covers illnesses related to ingesting water contaminated with trichloroethylene (TCE), tetrachloroethylene (PCE), benzene, vinyl chloride, and other toxins between the years 1953-1987.
The legislation provides medical treatment for 15 qualifying diseases for which veterans, retirees, reservists, and their families may be eligible for treatment under VA Healthcare.
These diseases include esophageal cancer, renal toxicity, multiple myeloma, scleroderma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, liver cancer, female infertility, miscarriage, or stillbirths in family members of Camp Lejeune veterans.
Federal Tort Claims
The Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) is a federal law that allows people to file lawsuits against the federal government to earn compensation and disability benefits for damages. The Act will enable people to sue the government for injuries or losses resulting from a federal employee’s negligence.
The Camp Lejeune water contamination is a perfect example of an incident that could fall under the FTCA. The Act is a discretionary function protecting the United States government from any legal claim identifying established negligence as the cause.
Some defense lawyers representing the federal government have claimed that no one ever instructed base management to turn off the water supply from the contaminated wells. Because of that, the lawyers claim that no clear evidence of negligence has been presented.
However, lawyers for thousands of the Camp Lejeune lawsuit plaintiffs disagree with that argument, stating that no one took action even though they knew the Camp Lejeune water contamination was likely hurting people.
Contaminated Water Identified at Camp Lejeune
Camp Lejeune is a nearly 250-square-mile area in Onslow County in the eastern district of North Carolina. The federal authorities first opened the military base in 1942 as a training facility and military operations center for the US Marine Corps and other branches of the armed forces.
The military base was a permanent or temporary residence for hundreds of thousands of retired and active-duty military men, women, and family members for approximately eight decades. Thousands of outside contractors and civilian employees lived and worked on the base.
Since the base was first opened, it has operated a water system supplying potable water to military service members and civilians.
The first environmental testing occurred the first few years after the military base was opened and found that the water supply was filled with highly dangerous chemicals and organic compounds.
Scientific and medical evidence correlates contaminated Camp Lejeune water to childhood cancers, bladder cancer, multiple myeloma, liver cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, birth defects, and other severe health conditions.
Tetrachloroethylene (PCE) and Trichloroethylene (TCE)
The first medical and scientific evidence identified a disturbing realization that many living and working at the military base had been bathing in and consuming water contaminated by highly toxic tetrachloroethylene and trichloroethylene known to have carcinogenic effects on the human body.
Reports are unclear whether the United States government knew of the toxic properties in the Camp Lejeune water system. However, with numerous accounts, it is hard to imagine government officials did not know.
What Group of People Are Most Affected by the Contamination?
The people most affected by Camp Lejeune water contamination are the veterans and their family members who lived on the base then. Others likely harmed by exposure to toxins include contractors and others working in the area providing services on the Marine base.
Severe Health Problems
Common severe health conditions caused by contaminated water in adults and children include:
- Adult leukemia
- Liver cancer
- Bladder cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Birth defects
- Multiple myeloma
- Hepatic steatosis
- Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS)
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Neurobehavioral effects
- Plastic anemia and other bone marrow conditions
- Aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes
Available Healthcare Benefits, including Veterans’ Benefits
Any veteran who served at the Military Corps Air Station New River or Camp Lejeune for at least 30 cumulative days between August 1953 in December 1987 or any family member is eligible to receive healthcare benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
Retired veterans and those on active duty might be eligible for disability benefits after the Obama administration agreed to provide the disability compensation benefits available to those harmed by Camp Lejeune water contamination.
Administrative Claims and Camp Lejeune Settlement Amounts
Navigating Administrative Claims for Camp Lejeune Victims
The administrative claims process for those affected by the water at Camp Lejeune involves filing claims with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
The VA evaluates the claims, determines eligibility, and awards compensation and benefits to veterans and their families suffering from toxic exposure at the base.
Significant Camp Lejeune Settlement Amount Cases and Allocations
Various amounts have been designated for Camp Lejeune victims, reflecting the government’s commitment to addressing the long-standing issue and supporting those affected.
The VA has agreed to pay over $2 billion in disability benefits to veterans and their families harmed by the toxic water at the base. This decision came after the Obama administration agreed to make the benefits available.
$100,000 Lawsuit for Toxic Exposure to Contaminated Drinking Water
In 2022, a service member harmed by the Camp Lejeune water contamination received $100,000 in benefits from the VA. In this case, the victim was a Marine veteran diagnosed with kidney cancer after exposure to contaminated water while serving at the military base.
This claim is one of the first Camp Lejeune lawsuits to be settled under the VA’s new disability comp program for service members harmed by the contaminated water.
$350 Million Fund for Contaminated Drinking Water
The Department of Veterans Affairs has set up a $350 million fund to provide healthcare benefits to veterans and their families affected by the water.
The fund will pay for medical treatment, medication, and other health care services for those affected by Camp Lejeune water contamination.
In addition to the $2 billion in disability benefits and the $350 million fund for healthcare, the Department of Veterans Affairs has also agreed to pay out $75 million to benefit families of service members who died from Camp Lejeune water contamination.
$1.1 Million Lawsuit Award for Disability Benefits
In 2021, a veteran who had worked at Camp Lejeune in the 1980s and had been diagnosed with bladder cancer was awarded $1.1 million in benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
This case is one of the first Camp Lejeune lawsuits to be settled under the new disability benefits program for service members harmed by the contaminated water at the base. The veteran had worked at the base for six years and had been exposed to contaminated well water.
750,000 Camp Lejeune Lawsuit Award for Neurological Disorder
In 2022, a service member developed a severe neurological disorder after exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune.
The veteran’s condition resulted in significant cognitive decline and difficulty with motor skills, causing them to be unable to work or perform daily tasks independently.
After filing a Camp Lejeune water contamination claim with the Department of Veterans Affairs, the veteran was awarded $750,000 in compensation to cover their ongoing medical expenses, lost wages, and future care.
500,000 Lawsuit Award for Respiratory Illness
In another hypothetical case, a veteran who served at Camp Lejeune experienced severe respiratory problems due to exposure to dangerous chemicals in the drinkable water. This service member developed chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and required ongoing treatment, including medication, oxygen therapy, and regular medical visits.
After filing a Camp Lejeune water contamination claim with the Department of Veterans Affairs, the veteran was awarded $500,000 in disability benefits to help cover the costs of their medical treatment and lost wages.
Significant Lejeune Water Contamination Lawsuit Victories
These payouts constitute a significant victory for the Camp Lejeune veterans and their families. They have fought for years to get justice and compensation for the harm caused by the contaminated well water.
The Camp Lejeune settlement payments are an excellent first step. However, more work must be done to ensure that all those affected by Camp Lejeune water contamination receive the justice and compensation they deserve.
Are you or a loved one affected by toxic water at Camp Lejeune? Contact an experienced attorney to discuss your rights and options regarding a Camp Lejeune lawsuit.
The Office of the Judge Advocate General and Tort Claims
The Office of the Judge Advocate General (JAG) of the Navy is responsible for providing legal advice and representation to the Department of the Navy, including handling tort claims related to the Marine Corps and Navy activities.
The TCU in Norfolk, Virginia, is a specialized division within the JAG that handles these claims, including those related to Camp Lejeune.
Filing Camp Lejeune Claims with the TCU
A Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuit is filed administratively with the TCU because it is the designated office for handling claims arising from incidents involving the Marine Corps and Navy, including environmental contamination and personal injury cases.
The TCU can investigate and adjudicate Camp Lejeune lawsuit claims that are filed under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) and other relevant statutes.
Importance of the TCU in the Camp Lejeune Case
The TCU plays a critical role in the Camp Lejeune case because it is responsible for evaluating and processing the claims of service members and their families who have suffered harm due to the toxic water at the base.
The TCU must determine claimants’ eligibility for a Camp Lejeune lawsuit, evaluate their claims’ merits, and decide on appropriate compensation. The process involves gathering evidence, reviewing medical documents and records, and consulting with experts to ensure fair and accurate determinations regarding Camp Lejeune water contamination.
By filing their claims with the TCU, Camp Lejeune victims can pursue compensation for their injuries through an administrative process rather than resorting to litigation in the courts. This allows for a more streamlined and efficient resolution of claims while still allowing claimants to receive compensation for their losses.
The Government Was Aware of the Water Problem at Camp LeJeune
The federal government was already aware of the chemicals in the Camp Lejeune water. However, there were only preventive and even awareness measures in the 1980s. As a result, people consumed and bathed in dangerous water for years.
Most people on active duty exposed to the Camp Lejeune water contamination developed various adverse health effects, including cancers and other diseases.
The United States government has acknowledged the link between exposure to Camp Lejeune water contamination and certain adverse health conditions. As a result, veterans and their families affected by the Camp Lejeune water may be eligible for disability Veterans benefits and healthcare through the Veterans Affairs (VA).
Besides the veterans stationed at the military base, their families and other workers nearby were exposed to the water of Camp Lejeune.
Previous Compensation Claims Regarding Water Contamination in Camp Lejeune
Until now, veterans of Camp Lejeune and their families could not sue the state for decades-old exposure to Camp Lejeune water since North Carolina has a statute of limitations of 10 years.
The Supreme Court decided in 2014 those victims couldn’t sue the state since the statute had expired, even though they only learned about Camp Lejeune water contamination a decade earlier.
However, the Camp Lejeune Justice Act is expected to waive the statute of limitations and allow Camp Lejeune water victims to sue for damages, regardless of when they learned about their exposure.
Chronology of the Water Contamination Lawsuit
Camp Lejeune became a Marine Corps base in 1941. The Tarawa Terrace treatment plant was built for water supply in 1951. Within a few years, water inspectors detecting toxins at the Tarawa Terrace treatment plant knew there were contamination issues at the Camp Lejeune water well.
In 1953, the One Hour Dry Cleaner became operational across from Camp Lejeune. Unfortunately, the dry cleaner used a toxic cleaning solvent called PCE, leading to contaminated well water.
In 1979, nearly 30,000 gallons of oil leaked into the ground from Hadnot Point Fuel Farm due to a leak in the underground storage tanks. It created an underground oil plume that reached the Tarawa Terrace well field.
The fuel leak contaminated the Camp Lejeune groundwater. However, the leak also increased the toxic benzene level in the water at Camp Lejeune. Benzene is a known carcinogen, and exposure to it can cause leukemia.
In 1984, an external contractor found benzene, PCE, TCE, and other chemicals in the Hadnot Point Water Well. By 1985, all Hadnot Point wells were shut down.
The Environmental Protection Agency designated ABC One Hour Cleaners and Camp Lejeune as Superfund sites. A Superfund site is an uncontrolled or abandoned place where hazardous waste, such as dangerous chemicals, is located.
The Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune’s designation as a Superfund site triggered a comprehensive investigation of contaminated water at the base. In 1990, the CDC declared PCP the most prominent cause of birth defects, death, and injury in Camp Lejeune water contamination victims.
When Did this Water Contamination Lawsuit Begin?
The first lawsuits regarding Camp Lejeune filed were in 2016. Marine Corps veterans and their families filed 800 lawsuits per the Federal Tort Claims Act. The Federal Tort Claims Act allows individuals to seek compensation from the government for personal injuries or death caused by the negligence of a federal employee.
The Camp Lejeune lawsuits were consolidated into one multidistrict litigation (MDL class action toxic water lawsuit) in federal court as per state law. The first Camp Lejeune lawsuit litigation is ongoing, and no trial date has been set for the first lawsuits.
Even by 2018, Camp Lejeune victims had no legal recourse. However, by 2021, the Camp Lejeune Justice Act entered the House of Representatives. In 2022, this act was added to a collective bill named the Honoring Our Pact Act 2021.
The Honoring Our Pact Act provides financial relief and healthcare benefits to every Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune veteran’s immediate family member who was exposed to Camp Lejeune water contamination.
What Contaminants Were in the Water at Camp Lejeune?
The National Research Council (NRC) assessed Camp Lejeune’s water and determined it contained numerous hazardous chemicals. Two water wells on the base were closed in 1985 due to unacceptable levels of:
- Trichloroethylene (TCE)
- Perchloroethylene (PCE)
- Vinyl chloride
- Other compounds
Unfortunately, based on medical and scientific evidence, most chemicals involved in the Camp Lejeune water contamination were dangerous to human health.
These dangerous chemicals cause serious health problems in exposed individuals, including cancers (liver and bladder cancer), miscarriages, and birth defects.
Many of these contaminants do not break down easily, particularly in groundwater and soil, meaning that those coming into well water contaminated with these compounds would still be at risk years after the original spill. This is part of the reason that contamination at Camp Lejeune has remained toxic for decades, long after the sources were removed or rectified.
The most notable contaminants in Camp Lejeune water were:
Vinyl chloride is a chemical compound used primarily in producing polyvinyl chloride (PVC). It is a colorless gas with a sweet, chloroform-like odor at room temperature.
VCM is among the top twenty largest industrial chemicals produced in the world. It makes PVC for construction, electronics, and various other industries.
It is a highly reactive chemical and must be stored and transported in pressurized containers to avoid decomposition into hydrogen chloride and carbon monoxide.
VCM is a known carcinogen linked to liver cancer and leukemia. It is also a skin irritant and can cause liver and kidney damage. In addition, long-term exposure to PVC can result in polyvinyl chloride poisoning, which manifests as dizziness, headaches, and easy bruising.
PVC production creates dioxins as by-products, highly toxic chemicals that can accumulate in the food chain, leading to intestinal and bladder cancer. Dioxins cause cancer, reproductive and developmental problems, immune system damage, and hormone disruption.
The production of PVC also creates significant air pollution, as the process releases VCM into the atmosphere. Wastewater from PVC production can also contaminate ground and surface water with VOCs and other hazardous chemicals. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are organic compounds that easily vaporize in air, meaning that any water containing VOCs would quickly disperse these dangerous chemicals to be breathed in by anyone nearby.
Despite the many dangers associated with vinyl chloride, found in abundance in water at the military base, it is still used extensively in the industry due to its low cost and versatility. It is implicated in many recent Camp Lejeune lawsuits.
Another chemical found in Camp Lejeune, trichloroethylene (TCE), is a colorless, volatile liquid with a sweet, chloroform-like odor. It is used as a degreaser and cleaning solvent and is also found in adhesives, paints, varnishes, and lacquers.
The EPA classified TCE as a human carcinogen, primarily causing Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is a type of cancer affecting the lymphatic system, a network of vessels and nodes that transports fluids and cells throughout the body.
Exposure to TCE can also cause neurological damage and liver damage. It can cause birth defects, as it persists in the reproductive organs and immune system.
TCE in Groundwater
TCE is a known groundwater contaminant found in water wells and waste disposal sites near Superfund sites, such as water wells at the base and other hazardous waste sites. In the last few years, victims of TCE exposure have filed many lawsuits.
It can also enter the air from contaminated soil or water and has been found in the atmosphere of indoor spaces, such as office buildings and homes.
According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, TCE is no longer manufactured in the United States. However, it is still used extensively in other countries. When contaminated products degrade or are disposed of improperly, TCE can be released into the environment.
The EPA set the maximum safe TCE level in potable water at five ppb. However, the contaminated well water at the Hadnot Point Treatment Plant at Camp Lejeune had 1,400 ppb of TCE. The detected contaminants at the treatment plants for water included volatile organic compounds.
Methylene chloride is a chemical solvent that removes paint vinyl chloride. It is also used in making plastic products.
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry reports Camp Lejeune water had concentrations of methylene chloride.
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) revealed that people who used that water for any purpose were exposed to this chemical.
Benzene is a cyclic hydrocarbon. It is a colorless and flammable liquid with a sweet smell. Benzene is produced naturally by volcanoes and forest fires, but most benzene comes from refining crude oil.
Benzene is a solvent in producing plastics, resins, synthetic fibers, rubber, detergents, pesticides, and other chemicals. It is also used as a fuel additive and a gasoline component.
The EPA has classified benzene as a human carcinogen, and it has been linked to leukemia. Short-term exposure to benzene can cause dizziness, headache, confusion, unconsciousness, and even death.
Medical evidence shows long-term exposure to dangerous organic compounds (like benzene) or consuming toxic water can cause anemia, bone marrow damage, and leukemia. Benzene is also released from cigarette smoke, car exhaust, and industrial emissions. It can also enter the air from the evaporation of gasoline and other fuels.
Like many other dangerous organic compounds, you can measure benzene in your breath, blood, and urine. It is one of the many toxic chemicals found in the water of Camp Lejeune.
Perchloroethylene (PCE) is a halocarbon. It is a colorless, volatile liquid with a chloroform-like odor. It removes dirt and stains from clothing and textile fabric like a common dry cleaning solvent. PCE can persist in the soil and groundwater for decades after the original spill, and it is incredibly difficult to remediate.
The PCE in Camp Lejeune water came from the One Hour Dry Cleaner, which operated near the base camp for the Marine Corps in 1953.
In industry, PCE is used as a heat transfer medium, degreaser, and cleaning agent for metal parts and electronic components.
It is one of the most prevalent toxic chemicals in dry cleaning and has been linked to cancer, liver damage, and neurological effects.
IARC and EPA Identify the Probable Carcinogen
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies PCE as a potential human carcinogen. In addition, the EPA has classified PCE as a Group B2 probable human carcinogen.
PCE is commonly present in contaminated well water. Exposure to PCE can occur through inhalation, ingestion, or skin contact. In the case of Camp Lejeune water contamination, the PCE came from ABC One-Hour Cleaners nearby, which improperly released water into the groundwater and soil through their septic tank system. They also buried PCE-contaminated materials outside of the buildings, which led to further contamination.
The damage by PCE is so alarming that it is essential to seek medical attention immediately if exposed. The Camp Lejeune lawsuits are primarily based on exposure to PCE and TCE, although some victims were also exposed to other toxic chemicals, as discussed above.
Remediation Efforts in the Camp Lejeune Area
The EPA has been working to protect residents of Onslow County since shortly after potential Camp Lejeune water contamination was identified, both at the drycleaning company and on the military base.
ABC One-Hour Cleaners, which remained active until 2011, was placed on the EPA’s Superfund National Priorities List (NPL) in 1989. The company consisted of three units, of which the middle one was the source of the PCE contamination. All three buildings were demolished in 2017.
EPA technicians have been working on resolving the dangers related to ABC One-Hour Cleaners since 1992 when the first investigations began to identify the cause of the Camp Lejeune water contamination and the means to fix the issue.
Despite some setbacks thanks to Hurricane Irene in 2011, the EPA now classifies the site as “short-term protective,” meaning that local residents are not in danger of issues due to air contamination. Monitoring and remediation still continue over 30 years after the EPA identified ABC One-Hour Cleaners as an area of concern, which underscores how serious the issue was and how many individuals have been negatively affected.
The Camp Lejeune military base was also placed on the EPA’s National Priorities List in 1989; as of now, there are 26 separate areas of concern. Work has been slower on the base itself because the EPA must coordinate with a variety of stakeholders, including the United States Navy, the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, and local residents.
From 1991 to 2001, the Navy disposed of the contaminated storage tanks and removed soil from these areas. They also installed a groundwater treatment system and treatment cell for contaminated soil.
Lasting until 2009, the Navy used electrical resistance to extract over 48,000 pounds of VOCs from the soil, as well as oxidants to break down the contaminants. The enormity of the cleanup efforts shows the level of risk posed to everyone in the region, particularly when considering that the problem was active for decades.
Some sites have now been covered with an impermeable cap that does not allow VOCs to escape, while others have been treated with a bio-barrier that will not allow contaminated groundwater or soil to mix with adjacent areas. Some of the sites have now been assessed as posing low risk to local inhabitants, while others continue to be assessed and treated. The EPA, in conjunction with the Navy and other stakeholders, conducts a review every five years in order to identify areas of concern related to Camp Lejeune water contamination.
Camp Lejeune remains an active Superfund site and will remain so for the foreseeable future as contamination is closely monitored and more interventions are ordered as necessary.
The sheer scale of the cleanup efforts demonstrates how severe the Camp Lejeune water contamination is and why the Camp Lejeune lawsuits are deeply necessary for healing.
Diseases Caused by Water Contamination in Camp Lejeune
The industrial chemicals contaminating the base camp of the Marine Corps in Camp Lejeune caused various diseases in the Marines and their families.
The most common diseases linked to Camp Lejeune water contamination are liver cancer, liver damage, reproductive problems, and congenital disabilities.
Most chemicals in the contaminated well water at Camp Lejeune are known to cause various types of cancer. Types of cancers in victims are:
- Breast Cancer
- Kidney Cancer
- Multiple Myeloma attacks the plasma cells in the bone marrow. Victims suffering from this disease often have a tough time fighting off infections.
- Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma: Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell.
Toxic water from the Camp Lejeune water treatment plants can also cause liver damage. It can lead to various problems, including:
- Jaundice is a condition in which the skin and whites of the eyes become yellow. The yellowing is due to a build-up of bilirubin in the blood.
- Hepatitis is liver inflammation that viruses, bacteria, or other factors can cause.
- Cirrhosis occurs when the liver is damaged and scarred. It can build up toxins in the blood, which can be fatal.
The contamination at Camp Lejeune has also been linked to reproductive problems in men and women. These problems include:
- Infertility: Some Camp Lejeune victims have been unable to conceive children due to toxic water contamination.
- Miscarriages: Some Camp Lejeune women exposed to toxic water have had miscarriages.
The CDC published a report in 2013 that revealed that children born to women who lived on Camp Lejeune or consumed the water from the water well had higher birth defects than average.
The Camp Lejeune water contamination has also been linked to birth defects in veterans’ children. These defects include:
- Cleft Lip: A cleft lip is a birth defect in which the lips are not correctly formed. Likewise, a cleft palate is a birth defect in which the roof of the mouth is not formed correctly.
- Heart Defects: Children born to parents exposed to the toxic water at Camp Lejeune have an increased risk of developing heart defects.
- Spina Bifida: A congenital defect can result in a gap in the backbone, causing paralysis in the lower limbs of the child.
- Other Neural Tube Birth Defects: Spina bifida is one type of neural tube defect, and another example is anencephaly, in which parts of the brain or skull are missing.
- Childhood Cancers: Several cancers can have developed in children already due to the mother’s exposure, including brain cancer and leukemia.
The illnesses mentioned above are just a few of the many diseases and health problems linked to the Camp Lejeune water contamination. Suffering from these health conditions may have caused long-term pain, a reduced earning potential, and ongoing medical expenses that have damaged an individual’s or family’s financial future. All of these damages could be compensated in Camp Lejeune lawsuits.
Have you or a family member been diagnosed with any of these conditions? You may be eligible for benefits and compensation from the Veterans Administration.
Victims of Camp Lejeune May Be Able to Earn Compensation Soon
Our Camp Lejeune attorney team has helped numerous victims strive for compensation and obtain the healthcare benefits they deserve, including:
- Health care Benefits: Camp Lejeune’s supply of water was contaminated with cancer-causing chemicals. The new law would enable these victims to get healthcare benefits from the government.
- Financial Compensation: Many victims are facing mounting medical bills.
- Disability Compensation: Disability benefits are available as the government will provide financial assistance to victims who can no longer work because of their injuries. Victims of the water supply at Camp Lejeune could receive disability health benefits.
Frequently Asked Questions on Camp Lejeune’s Water Contamination
It’s important to file a Lejeune water contamination lawsuit quickly. Our attorneys are experts regarding the Camp Lejeune litigation and have been fighting tirelessly to get justice for those affected by the Camp Lejeune water contamination.
Frequently Asked Questions on Camp Lejeune’s Water Contamination
Our personal injury lawyers know that many families have unanswered questions on Camp Lejeune litigation and are being compensated for damages due to exposure to the toxic water. A lawyer from our law firm has answered some of the most pertinent questions below.
Call us at (888) 424-5757 for additional information or to schedule a consultation to discuss your case.
What Is Camp Lejeune’s Water Contamination Issue?
Widespread exposure of service members and their families to toxic chemicals in the water at the Camp Lejeune base in North Carolina between the 1950s and 1980s lead to serious health issues for hundreds of thousands of people. The contaminants included dangerous organic compounds (VOCs) such as trichloroethylene (TCE), perchloroethylene (PCE), and benzene, which have been linked to a variety of serious health problems, including various types of cancer and other illnesses.
Can I File a Lawsuit for Compensation Related to the Toxic Water?
Eligible service members and their families can submit a Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuit or administrative claim for compensation related to the toxic water exposure. Due to the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, enacted in August 2022, victims can now file claims in the US District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina. Additionally, a Camp. Lejeune lawsuit or administrative claim can be filed with the Office of the Judge Advocate General of the Navy’s Tort Claims Unit in Norfolk, Virginia. It is advisable to consult with lawyers experienced in handling Camp Lejeune lawsuits to navigate the complex process in federal court in North Carolina.
Whether or not you are eligible to receive Camp Lejeune settlements depends on certain requirements. Did you live in the area for at least 30 days between 1953 and 1987? Are you suffering from one of the associated diseases, such as bladder cancer, leukemia, multiple myeloma, jaundice, cirrhosis, or infertility? If you meet these standards and can provide evidence, then you may be able to receive a Lejeune water contamination lawsuit payout.
What is the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, and how does it impact the lawsuits?
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act, enacted in August 2022, is a law that allows victims of water contamination to file their claims in the US District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina. The Camp Lejeune Justice Act provides an exception to the general rule that service members cannot file lawsuits for injuries sustained while in military service. After the bill’s passage, victims have two years to file claims related to the diseases they developed due to the contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune.
What Types of Damages May Be Covered by a Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawsuit Settlement?
Camp Lejeune veterans, former staff, and former residents that were living on the base for at least 30 days between 1953 and 1987 may have suffered because of the water contamination issue. As a result, certain diseases may have caused significant damage to the victim.
Damages that would be categorized as economic losses include medical expenses, physical therapy bills, lost income, and diminished earning capacity.
Not all damages can be easily assessed for monetary value. For example, emotional distress, loss of companionship, and reduced enjoyment of life are non-economic examples of damages that could play a role in administrative claims filed with the TCU. The case could also be brought to the Eastern District of North Carolina court if no solution is found via the TCU.
What Constitutes Exposure to the Toxic Water at Camp Lejeune?
Camp Lejeune claims are dependant on whether or not the victim was exposed to the toxic chemicals in the water and suffered ill effects as a result.
There are several types of exposure that could have led to health concerns between the 1950s and the 1980s.
If you consumed tap water and the chemicals led to adverse effects, you may be eligible for Lejeune water contamination lawsuit compensation.
Taking a bath using water from local sources during this time could have also led to skin conditions or worse.
Cleaning with Contaminated Water
If contaminated water was used to clean surfaces, then it could have spread the chemicals that have harmed many Camp Lejeune victims.
Using contaminated water to cook food could result in chemicals getting into the food itself. Even if the water was boiled, there is no guarantee that all the chemicals were removed.
How Do I File a Camp Lejeune Claim, and What Documentation Is Required?
To submit file a Camp Lejeune claim, you must gather relevant documentation, including medical records, military records, and evidence of exposure to the toxic water at the base. You can file a Lejeune water contamination lawsuit in the US District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina or submit an administrative claim to the TCU. You should consult with our lawyers specializing in Camp Lejeune litigation to help you through the process and ensure you have the necessary documentation.
What Evidence Do I Need if I Am a Family Member Filing a Lejeune Water Contamination Lawsuit?
The evidence required for a family member of a veteran to file an administrative claim is similar to what former service members must provide, with one notable exception. Documentation must be provided that proves the nature of your relationship with the service member, such as a marriage license or birth certificate. This ensures that you can verify your familial relationship with the veteran.
What Are the Camp Lejeune Settlement Amounts, and How Are They Determined?
Camp Lejeune settlements vary depending on the severity of the illness, the extent of the exposure, and other factors. Some notable settlements include a $100,000 award for a Marine veteran diagnosed with kidney cancer after exposure to toxic water and a $1.1 million award for a veteran diagnosed with bladder cancer who worked at the base in the 1980s. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has also agreed to pay over $2 billion in disability benefits to affected veterans and their families. It has set up a $350 million fund to provide healthcare benefits.
What Should I Do if I Filed a Camp Lejeune Contamination Administrative Claim With the Judge Advocate General (JAG) But It Has Expired?
Sadly, JAG has received thousands of claims that are considered administrative regarding Camp Lejeune, but it has failed to process many before the six-month expiration date of the cases. JAG has endured harsh criticism for failing to handle the caseload, delaying the benefits available to eligible individuals and families.
If your claim has reached this six-month expiration, then you should contact an experienced law firm now to talk about your options going forward. Fortunately, the passage of recent bills has provided other roads to compensation, such as filing a lawsuit with the Federal Court of the Eastern District of North Carolina.
What Is the Current Status of Camp Lejeune Settlements and Cases?
Lawsuits and settlements are ongoing, with many former Camp Lejeune victims still seeking compensation for their injuries. The Camp Lejeune Justice Act has enabled more victims to file claims in federal courts, and the administrative claims process through the Navy’s Tort Claims Unit continues. It is essential to stay up-to-date with developments in Camp Lejeune litigation and consult with a firm to ensure you are aware of any deadlines or changes that may impact your case.
Can I Still File an Administrative Claim if I Don’t Have All My Military Records or Medical Documentation?
While it is preferable to have all of your military records and medical documentation when filing a Camp Lejeune claim, it is still possible to proceed with a claim if some records are missing. You should gather as much documentation as possible to support your case and consult a legal firm experienced in Camp Lejeune litigation to discuss your options. In some cases, a lawyer can help you obtain missing records or provide alternative evidence to support your claim. It is essential to act promptly to avoid missing any filing deadlines or opportunities for compensation.
What Should I Do if I Am Contacted About Filing an Administrative Claim for Camp Lejeune but Have Taken No Action Yet?
Unfortunately, the world is full of people who like to take advantage of a situation. In this case, many scammers have tried to scam veterans and other family members.
If you have not taken action in relation to a lawsuit involving Camp Lejeune and someone contacts you about doing so, be wary of the legitimacy of this individual. Instead, get in touch with an experienced and accredited legal team handling Camp Lejeune lawsuits to avoid being scammed by suspicious callers.
How Long Do I Have to File a Lejune Water Contamination Lawsuit?
It depends on when you discovered the negative health effects that may have been caused by the contamination. If you learn that you have suffered exposure-related harm, you have two years to file a lawsuit with the US District Court of the Eastern District of North Carolina. However, with the passage of the Justice Act in 2022, victims may have until August 2024 due to the new statute of limitations in the bill.
Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer to Resolve Your Camp Lejeune Claim
Are you a victim who developed health complications after being on the Camp Lejeune military base for at least 30 consecutive days between 1953 and 1987? Do your medical records indicate you have been diagnosed with multiple myeloma, Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, adult leukemia, or another severe condition?
The personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC are legal advocates fighting for the rights of military service members and their families harmed while in the armed services. We work to ensure our clients receive a fair settlement for their damages, including injuries and wrongful death.
Benefits of Working with Camp Lejeune Lawyers at Rosenfeld
As a former service member or resident of the base at Camp Lejeune, it is possible that you have been suffering from long-term diseases or other health conditions because of exposure to contaminated water. While our team cannot prevent your physical suffering and the emotional impact, we can help you obtain the compensation you deserve to help with your finances.
The legal process can be overwhelming, especially with cases involving Camp Lejeune water contamination. You should have as much information about that process as possible before having to make a decision about proceeding with any Camp Lejeune claims filed. This is why we offer a free consultation to discuss the merits of your case, the evidence you may need, and whether or not you are eligible for benefits.
Call our Camp Lejeune attorneys at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone call) or use the contact form to schedule a free case evaluation.
Contingency Fee Arrangement
Our firm accepts every Lejeune water contamination lawsuit on a contingency fee arrangement. This arrangement ensures you will pay no upfront fees until our Camp Lejeune lawyers negotiate a settlement on your behalf or win your case at trial.
Gathering Evidence and Documentation
Successful Camp Lejeune claims depend on evidence. The documentation you provide must prove that you lived in the area during the time period listed and that you have suffered from negative health effects resulting from contaminated water exposure.
Our team will help Camp Lejeune Marine Base veterans, families, employees, and other parties gather the appropriate evidence required to win their Lejeune water contamination lawsuit.
One pillar that the lawyers at our firm believe in is the sanctity of the attorney-client relationship. You can be confident that all information you share with us will be kept private and secure throughout the claims process, only communicated to the necessary parties.
Many Successful Camp Lejeune Claims Have Been Filed
Our experience with these cases has seen many claimants successfully win compensation to cover medical bills, lost income, and other damages. We have helped secure these and other benefits for many former service members, staff, and residents of Camp Lejeune, and we want to add you to the list of compensated victims.
Rosenfeld is one of the top firms for handling Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuit cases, so let’s work together to help you recover fair compensation.