Marines and employees at the Camp Lejeune military base in North Carolina were unknowingly exposed to carcinogenic chemicals in their drinking water for three decades spanning the 1950s to the 1980s. Scientific studies have concluded that these chemicals cause serious adverse health consequences for these individuals.
Aplastic anemia is one of the diseases that has been conclusively linked to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune. People who became victims of the Camp Lejeune contamination disaster can now bring civil lawsuits for this water contamination and get compensation under a new law that passed Congress in August 2022. Our firm is accepting cases from individuals who lived or worked at Camp Lejeune and were diagnosed with aplastic anemia or similar conditions.
History of Camp Lejeune Water
Camp Lejeune is a huge Marine Corps training facility and a military base near Wilmington, North Carolina. The base has been in continuous use by the USMC since 1942. During that time, Lejeune has served as a short-term home for a population of roughly 50,000 people.
It served as a workplace for several thousand more. The base has barracks, family housing, schools, and hospitals. Camp Lejeune also has its own drinking water supply system fed by massive underground aquifer wells and maintained by the USMC.
Critically high levels of the carcinogenic chemicals perchloroethylene (PCE), trichloroethylene (TCE) (known as chlorinated solvents), and vinyl chloride (a product of TCE breakdown) contaminated the water supply at Camp Lejeune from August 1953 until 1987. The level of these carcinogens found in the Lejeune water was hundreds and even thousands of times above the EPA maximum safe levels.
Over 1 million people, including Marines, families, and civilian contractors and employees, lived or worked at Camp Lejeune during the contamination period and were exposed to the harmful water supply.
Aplastic anemia is a severe and rare blood disorder in which the bone marrow doesn’t produce enough new blood cells, leading to anemia, infections, and easy bleeding. In aplastic anemia, the bone marrow stem cells that produce new blood cells are damaged, which affects the body’s ability to produce red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. This can lead to various symptoms and complications, including fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, increased risk of infections, and bleeding.
Causes of Aplastic Anemia
Several causes of aplastic anemia include genetics, exposure to toxic chemicals or radiation, and certain medications. Aplastic anemia can also be classified as acquired or congenital. Viable Camp Lejeune aplastic anemia lawsuits will be acquired because they were caused by the toxic chemicals on the base. Acquired aplastic anemia is the most common type and occurs when the bone marrow is damaged or destroyed later in life, while congenital aplastic anemia is a genetic condition present from birth.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Aplastic Anemia
Diagnosing aplastic anemia typically involves a physical exam, a complete blood count, and a bone marrow biopsy. The bone marrow biopsy is the most important test for diagnosing aplastic anemia, as it provides information about the number and quality of blood cells in the bone marrow. Other tests may also be performed to determine the underlying cause of aplastic anemia.
Treatment for aplastic anemia depends on the disorder’s underlying cause and severity. In some cases, aplastic anemia can be treated with medication, such as immunosuppressive drugs or antibiotics. In more severe cases, a bone marrow transplant may be recommended. This procedure involves replacing the damaged bone marrow with healthy bone marrow from a donor. Treatment aims to restore the production of normal blood cells, reduce the risk of infections and bleeding, and improve the overall quality of life.
Aplastic Anemia Linked to Camp Lejeune Water
Camp Lejeune was one of U.S. history’s most infamous water contamination incidents. A collection of public health agencies have devoted decades to studying the effects of polluted water on the long-term health of residents and employees who were exposed to it.
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), the investigation branch of the CDC, has been heavily involved in the research effort at Camp Lejeune since 1991. The ATSDR’s fieldwork and research at Lejeune has yielded advanced historical modeling mapping the estimated contamination levels in the Lejeune water systems over the last 50 years.
The historical contamination modeling provided by the ATSDR has enabled several epidemiologic studies on individuals exposed to the Lejeune water over the years. These studies have identified many adverse health outcomes associated with Lejeune, including birth defects, cancer, and other diseases.
Certain chemicals can damage the bone marrow and disrupt its ability to produce new blood cells, leading to aplastic anemia. Some common chemicals linked to the development of aplastic anemia include benzene, pesticides, and solvents in the water at Lejeune. So when someone drank and bathed in this contaminated water at Lejeune that had these awful chemicals, it caused damage to their bone marrow and increased their risk of developing aplastic anemia.
2009 NRC Report
The National Research Council (NRC) was one of the first to issue a comprehensive report on the health impacts of the Lejeune water contamination in a 2009 report entitled Contaminated Water Supplies at Camp Lejeune: Assessing Potential Health Effects (NRC Report). The NRC Report identified evidence indicating that individuals exposed to the water at Lejeune suffered higher aplastic anemia.
VA Clinical Guidance
In 2012, the Veteran’s Administration (VA) created a select committee of prominent medical and scientific experts (the “VA Committee”). The VA Committee was tasked with evaluating and scrutinizing all of the scientific evidence on Lejeune and providing the VA with formal opinions on what health conditions could be associated with the Lejeune water contamination based on solid evidence.
The VA Committee published its official Clinical Guidance identifying diseases related to Camp Lejeune. The VA Clinical Guidance identified aplastic anemia as one of the specific health conditions that could be definitively connected to the contamination at Camp Lejeune.
The ATSDR conducted a long-term mortality, and cancer incidence study for the Camp Lejeune population (the “ATSDR Study”), and the first results were published in 2014. The ATSDR Study also found evidence of a clear association between the Camp Lejeune water and higher rates of aplastic anemia. The ATSDR study also found that the incidence rates of aplastic anemia were highest among those study participants with the most exposure to the contaminated water.
New Law Allows Camp Lejeune Lawsuits for Aplastic Anemia
Former residents of Camp Lejeune who were injured by the water pollution have previously been barred from bringing civil lawsuits. Congress passed a new federal statute that will allow these victims to bring claims. The Camp Lejeune Justice Act (CLJA) has been merged into the Honoring Our Pact Act (PACT Act). Now, Camp Lejeune water contamination victims will have a two-year window until August 10, 2024, to file civil lawsuits against the government for injuries related to water contamination.
CLJA plaintiffs will have the burden of proving their claims. But the CLJA has a unique provision that establishes a lower causation standard than in normal tort cases. Under this lowered standard established by the CLJA, plaintiffs may not be required to support their claims with expert opinions. If their alleged health condition has been linked to Camp Lejeune in previous epidemiological studies, no further evidence of causation will be required. Aplastic anemia has been linked to the Camp Lejeune water contamination, which means plaintiffs could establish per se causation based on existing health studies.
About Aplastic Anemia
Aplastic anemia is a relatively rare condition in which the bone marrow does not produce enough new blood cells. This leaves the body with a shortage of blood cells. Symptoms can involve fatigue, cardiovascular abnormalities, a compromised immune system, and the inability of the blood to clot normally.
Aplastic anemia can range from severe and sometimes life-threatening, to relatively mild with few symptoms. Treatment options for aplastic anemia range from blood transfusions and bone marrow transplants, to medication and observation, depending on the severity of the condition.
What Are Expected Settlement Amounts for Camp Lejeune Aplastic Anemia Lawsuits?
Our lawyers believe that Camp Lejeune lawsuits under the CLJA aplastic anemia will have an average settlement amount ranging between $110,000 and $275,000. These are strong claims because the science supporting the connection between aplastic anemia and the toxic water at Lejeune is very strong.
Our attorneys make this estimation of settlement compensation for Camp Lejeune lawsuits involving aplastic anemia by looking at settlements and verdicts in prior tort cases (e.g., medical malpractice cases). We also look at the nature and prognosis for aplastic anemia.
Now the caveats… no Camp Lejeune aplastic anemia settlement offers have been made yet. These estimates are just that. It’s too early to know for certain what settlement payouts will be under the CLJA.
Contact Us About Camp Lejeune Aplastic Anemia Lawsuits
If you lived or worked at Camp Lejeune from 1953 to 1987 and were later diagnosed with aplastic anemia, contact us today at 800-553-8082 for a free consultation or reach out to us online and tell us about your claim.