Camp Lejeune is one of the worst water contamination cases in US history. For over 30 years, military personnel, civilian workers, and their families were exposed to water contaminated with carcinogenic chemicals.
From 1953 to 1957, an estimated one million people may have been using water containing trichloroethylene (TCE), perchloroethylene (PCE), benzene, vinyl chloride, and other hazardous compounds. These chemicals are associated with an increased risk for certain diseases, including prostate cancer.
Were you or a loved one stationed at Camp Lejeune between 1953 to 1987? Did you develop prostate cancer later in life? If so, you may be entitled to financial compensation.
The personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, can serve as your legal advocates in your pursuit of justice. Whether it’s appealing a VA decision or filing a Camp Lejeune lawsuit, our lawyers are ready to help.
Contact our product liability lawyers at (888) 424-5757 for a free consultation on your potential Camp Lejeune prostate cancer lawsuit. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team will remain private under an attorney-client relationship.
What Happened at Camp Lejeune?
Camp Lejeune is a 156,000-acre military training facility in Jacksonville, North Carolina. The military base was considered a “major polluter” by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the 1970s. Records show that the Marine Corps disposed of oil and industrial wastewater in the storm drains, which were common practices at the time.
Aside from oil and wastewater, a significant source of contamination at Camp Lejeune was a nearby dry-cleaning business. The establishment dumped wastewater containing chemicals used in dry cleaning into the drains, including tetrachloroethylene and trichloroethylene.
From 1980 to 1982, military chemists and Grainger Laboratories in Raleigh, North Carolina, conducted tests on the drinking water at the military base. Early tests found trace chemicals of organic compounds in treated water. Two years later, scientists found more alarming results; synthetic organic solvents in water from two of the base’s largest living areas.
Despite evidence of contaminated water at the camp that thousands of people used, the Marine Corps took no action. It wasn’t until 1984 that things started unraveling. In that year, chemists tested the wells at Camp Lejeune and found high levels of gasoline in the water. Ten wells were closed when the news of the water contamination was made public.
Nearly one million people, including service members, civilian workers, and family members, may have drank, bathed in, or cooked with contaminated water at Camp Lejeune.
Contaminants Found in Camp Lejeune Water
According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, 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, making refrigerants, and degreasing metal equipment.
- Perchloroethylene(PCE): Used for dry cleaning and metal degreasing.
- Vinyl chloride (VC): TCE and PCE degrade into VC in groundwater over time; they are used to make plastic products and produced as a combustion product in tobacco.
- Benzene: Used to make other chemicals used for manufacturing plastics, nylons, resins, and synthetic fibers.
Health Effects of Contaminated Water at Camp Lejeune
Exposure to the hazardous chemicals in the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune increases the risk of certain diseases, including prostate cancer.
The following are health effects with sufficient scientific evidence for illness causation from the harmful chemicals found in the water supply at Camp Lejeune:
- 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 insufficient scientific evidence supports a link between the condition and exposure. These diseases include but are not limited to:
- Multiple myeloma
- End-stage renal disease
- Breast cancer
- Brain cancer
- Cervical cancer
- Ovarian cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Rectal cancer
- Lung cancers
However, not everyone that uses contaminated water develops health issues. The effects of chemical exposure depend on:
- When you were exposed to contaminated water (e.g., during childhood, pregnancy, etc.)
- How much were you exposed to
- How long you were exposed
- How you were exposed (e.g., via drinking, bathing, etc.)
- Personal traits and habits
What Is Prostate Cancer?
The prostate is a gland found between the bladder and the penis. Its primary function is to produce a liquid found in semen. The prostate muscles ensure that the semen is pressed into the urethra and expelled during ejaculation.
Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers in men. While there is no clear cause for prostate cancer, several factors increase its risk of developing. According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, exposure to TCE increases the risk of specific cancers, including prostate cancer.
Other risk factors for prostate cancer include:
- Age: Your risk for prostate cancer increases as you grow older.
- Race: Black people have a greater chance of developing prostate cancer.
- Family History: You have a higher disposition for prostate cancer if you have a parent, sibling, or child diagnosed with it.
- Obesity: Obese people are more likely to develop prostate cancer than people with a healthy weight.
Symptoms of Prostate Cancer
Like other cancers, prostate cancer does not usually cause signs and symptoms in its early stages. When signs and symptoms do manifest, they may include:
- Difficulty urinating
- Decreased urine pressure
- Blood in the urine
- Blood in the semen
- Bone pain
- Weight loss
- Erectile dysfunction
See a doctor as soon as possible if you experience one or more of these signs and symptoms.
Complications of Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer and its treatments may cause:
- Cancer that spreads
- Erectile dysfunction
Prostate Cancer Diagnosis
Doctors recommend men 50 and above undergo screening tests for prostate cancer. Early diagnosis is crucial for treating prostate cancer before it worsens or spreads to other organs. Prostate screening tests may include digital rectal exams and prostate-specific antigen tests.
If your doctor detects an abnormality in your screening tests, they may recommend further testing to determine if you have prostate cancer. Diagnostic techniques for prostate cancer include:
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- Prostate biopsy
Once your doctor confirms your cancer, they will determine its aggressiveness through Gleason scoring or genomic testing. Your doctor may also conduct further testing if they suspect that your cancer has spread to other organs.
Prostate Cancer Treatment
Low-grade prostate cancer may not require immediate treatment. Some patients do not require any treatment except for active surveillance.
If a patient does need treatment, it may include:
- Prostate removal surgery (radical prostatectomy)
- Radiation therapy
- Freezing or heating the prostate tissue
- Hormone therapy
- Targeted drug therapy
Regardless of the treatment you have to undergo, dealing with cancer is an expensive and stressful process. You would deserve financial compensation if your cancer were caused by someone else’s negligence, which, in this case, could be the Marine Corp’s inaction regarding the dangerous water at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune.
Compensation for Victims of Camp Lejeune Water Contamination
Scientific proof links the toxic water at Camp Lejeune with an elevated risk of prostate cancer and other cancers.
Veterans and their families stationed at Camp Lejeune between 1953 to 1987 and developed prostate cancer later in life may be entitled to disability benefits from the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA).
Veterans, reservists, and guardsmen may receive compensation as long as they meet the following criteria:
- They served at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 cumulative days between August 1953 to December 1987
- They did not receive a dishonorable discharge from the US military
- They have a current diagnosis of prostate cancer or other cancers
However, prostate cancer is not included in the list of presumptive conditions of the VA for Camp Lejeune service. Presumptive conditions are specific diseases that the VA presumes were caused by military service. Hence, many prostate cancer cases related to Camp Lejeune require the help of an attorney to prove the link between service at Camp Lejeune and prostate cancer.
Applying for VA Benefits
If you are a veteran and developed a health condition from exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, you could apply for disability benefits by:
- Using the VA website, indicating that you’re applying for disability compensation for Camp Lejeune-related prostate cancer
- Providing proof of your illness, such as medical records and test results
- Providing records that you served at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 cumulative days from August 1, 1953, to December 31, 1987
Recovering Fair Compensation
Unfortunately, the VA does not approve all applications for Camp Lejeune benefits. Moreover, some applicants receive a lower disability rating than they deserve, affecting how much they receive in compensation.
You could file an appeal if the VA denies your application or gives you a low rating. You may also enlist the help of a VA lawyer to ensure you receive fair compensation.
Filing a Camp Lejeune Prostate Cancer 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 healthcare benefits for veterans affected by 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, veterans, civilian workers, and their families are now eligible to file a lawsuit against the federal government.
The Act also overrides North Carolina’s statute of limitations that bars the filing of compensation claims after ten years.
Our lawyers can help you determine your next best course of action. We can help you:
- Gather proof linking the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune with your cancer
- Estimate the extent of your losses
- Evaluate your Camp Lejeune lawsuit
- File the lawsuit on your behalf
By filing a claim or lawsuit against the federal government, you may also receive compensation for:
- Medical expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of quality of life
- Wrongful death
Hire a Camp Lejeune Cancer Lawyer to Resolve Your Case
Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, is one of the worst cases of military negligence to date. Aside from improper waste disposal practices that led to thousands of people using toxic water, the Marine Corps took no action to fix the problem for years.
With the passing of the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, victims of contaminated water at Camp Lejeune can now seek long-deserved justice for the health effects they have suffered.
Did you or a loved one develop prostate cancer or other diseases from contaminated Camp Lejeune Water? If so, you have the legal right to seek damages from the US government.
The experienced attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC can help you obtain the compensation you deserve. Contact our law offices at (888) 424-5757 for a free consultation. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our law firm will remain private under an attorney-client relationship.
Our attorneys 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.