Our law firm is handling Camp Lejuene birth defect lawsuits in all 50 states. This page is about these claims and potential Camp Lejeune birth injury settlement amounts the government might offer to settle these cases.
The proof of the harm done to children whose mothers are exposed to contaminated water is unassailable. These children suffer higher rates of juvenile diseases and disorders.
Camp Lejeune Birth Defect Lawsuits
In the 1980s it was discovered that the water supply at the Camp Lejeune Marine Corps base in North Carolina was contaminated with toxic chemicals known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs). It has long been known that VOCs can cause birth defects.
The VOCs in the wells at Camp Lejeune were commonplace solvents. You will find VOCs in paint, gas, oil, dyes, perfumes, paint, paint thinner, oven cleaner, spot removers, and even in food and medicine.
The Navy Knew and Did Virtually Nothing
We now know – and the Navy knew at the time the evidence will show – that the Camp Lejeune water had been highly contaminated with these chemicals since the early 1950s. The Navy did not address the toxic water problem. Mostly, it buried its head in the sand. The base was required to do a complete chemical analysis of the water supply shall be made every year. But there is no evidence they tested the water.
The Navy Eventually Comes Clean
The federal government to try to help repair the harm done launched a public health investigation to assess the health impact of the contamination on a variety of injuries and sicknesses, including birth defects and other injuries in utero.
These public health investigations found strong evidence that exposure to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune during pregnancy caused higher rates of birth defects (spina bifida, microcephaly, etc.) and adverse birth outcomes (e.g., miscarriage, premature delivery, etc.).
New Law to Bring Claims
President Biden signed a new federal law that will give victims of the Camp Lejeune disaster, including those who suffered birth defects and adverse birth outcomes, the right to get compensation.
History of Camp Lejeune
Just north of Wilmington on the North Carolina coast, the Camp Lejeune Marine Corps base is a massive facility that has been a home, barracks, and workplace to millions of soldiers, military families, and civilian employees. The base has helped protect America since 1942. If you are a Marine, you have likely been through Camp Lejeune.
Residents and employees at Camp Lejeune received potable water from ground aquifers. In the 1980s, we learned the water being provided to Camp Lejeune was polluted with extremely harmful VOC chemicals including perchloroethylene (PCE) and trichloroethylene (TCE). The levels of these chemicals in the water at Lejeune were off the charts at over 2000 times higher than EPA safety limits.
Testing and research into the extent of the contamination subsequently revealed that the water at Camp Lejeune had been polluted with these chemicals from August 1953 to December 1987. Throughout this 34-year time frame, it is estimated that 1.1 million people were exposed to the toxic water at Camp Lejeune.
The Camp Lejeune base was home to many Marine Corps officers and their families over the years. As a result, a large number of women lived at Camp Lejeune during pregnancy resulting in utero exposure to the contaminants in the water.
Studies Link Birth Defects to Camp Lejeune Water Contamination
The government response to the Camp Lejeune water catastrophe has included years of extensive scientific research and studies by various public health agencies including the National Research Council (NRC) and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). The most significant study regarding the association between Camp Lejeune water contamination and birth defects was the 2014 ATSDR Birth Defects and Childhood Cancer Study.
The ATSDR study looked at medical records and data for 12,598 children who were born to mothers with residential exposure to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune. Only children born between 1968-1985 were included because adequate medical records were not available before 1968. The study also used the ATSDR’s advance water contamination modeling data for Camp Lejeune to quantify the level of maternal chemical exposure for each study group member.
The study concluded that children born to mothers with exposure to the polluted Camp Lejeune water during pregnancy had a significantly increased risk of birth defects. Camp Lejeune babies displayed almost a fourfold increase in the rate of neural tube birth defects such as spina bifida and anencephaly. A similar increase was found in the rate of children born with oral cleft defects. The data also showed a clear correlation between the rate of birth defects and the level of maternal exposure to Camp Lejeune water. Mothers with the most extensive exposure to the Lejeune water had the highest rate of birth defects.
The results of the ATSDR study on birth defects were consistent with the findings of several earlier studies that found an association between neural tube birth defects and PCE exposure.
Environmental Health Study
A key study in Environmental Health evaluated whether in utero and infant exposures to the toxic water at Lejeune were connected to birth defects and childhood cancers. The study concluded that children exposed to contaminated water in utero had higher rates of neural tube disorders – including anencephalies such as spina bifida and anencephaly – and were more likely to develop cancer, especially leukemia and childhood non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
VA Committee Affirms Camp Lejeune Water Caused Birth Defects
In 2015, a special committee of medical experts was formed to advise the Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”) on how to administer health benefits to Camp Lejeune veterans (“VA Committee). The VA Committee conducted a critical review and evaluation of all the previous research and public health studies. Based on this review, the VA Committee issued final guidance to the VA on what adverse health events could be associated with the Camp Lejeune water based on valid evidence.
The conclusions reached by the VA Committee were published in a report called the VA Clinical Guidance on the Health Conditions Identified by the Camp Lejeune Legislation. The guidance report from the VA Committee reached a conclusive determination that there was valid evidence showing a connection between in-utero exposure the Camp Lejeune water and neural tube birth defects:
Microcephaly is a rare and potentially serious birth defect that occurs when a newborn baby’s head is abnormally small. The small size of the baby’s head occurs because the brain did not grow and develop properly during pregnancy or stopped growing shortly after birth. Microcephaly can occur in conjunction with other serious birth defects or it can be an isolated condition.
Microcephaly comes in different forms based on the level of severity. The smaller the size of the baby’s head in comparison to normal head sizes, the more severe the microcephaly. Infants born with microcephaly can suffer from a range of symptoms and complications including:
- Developmental delays and speech problems
- Cognitive deficiencies (lower learning ability and intelligence)
- Hearing & vision problems
- Movement and balance difficulties
Based on the severity of the condition, these complications can be mild or very serious. In most cases, the complications resulting from microcephaly are permanent and can result in lifelong disabilities. The most severe microcephaly cases can even be life-threatening.
Microcephaly Linked to Contaminated Water
Recent scientific evidence suggests that there may be a causal connection between exposure to contaminated drinking water during pregnancy and microcephaly. Research has shown that women who consume water with high levels of various contaminants are at higher risk of having a baby born with microcephaly.
Camp Lejeune Microcephaly Cases
Based on the evidence linking contaminated drinking water to higher rates of microcephaly (and other birth defects) our firm is currently seeking Camp Lejeune microcephaly lawsuits. Eligible plaintiffs would include anyone with in utero exposure to the contaminated Camp Lejeune water before 1988 who was born with microcephaly. Severe cases of microcephaly can result in major physical and mental disabilities and a lifetime of medical treatment and care. As a result, Camp Lejeune microcephaly cases could have a very high potential settlement value.
Compensation for Camp Lejeune Birth Defects Under New Law
Victims of the Camp Lejeune water pollution victims have previously been entirely barred from bringing civil claims and getting compensation from the government. All prior Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuits have been dismissed based on the application of North Carolina’s strict 10-year statute of repose. In reaction to this injustice, Congress is now very close to passing a new federal law that will give Camp Lejeune victims the ability to file claims and get settlements.
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act (CLJA), was combined into a larger bill called the Honoring Our Pact Act (PACT Act) and passed by the House of Representatives in March. In June 2022, the Senate passed a slightly amended version of the PACT Act. The amended version is now up for approval by the House at which point it will become law.
As soon as the CLJA is signed into law, Camp Lejeune water contamination victims will be entitled to bring tort claims against the government and seek compensation. CLJA claimants will still need to establish proof of their factual allegations, the new law establishes a reduced standard of proof for causation. To prove causation, Camp Lejeune plaintiffs will be able to rely on a single, valid study associating their injuries with the Lejeune water contaminants.
Under this minimal evidentiary standard created by the CLJA, neural tube birth defects will be supported by presumptive evidence of causation. The ATSDR birth defect study and the VA Committee guidance have already concluded that birth defects are caused by the water at Camp Lejeune. Plaintiffs with birth defect claims will probably just need to prove that they lived or worked at Lejeune during the relevant period to establish their claims.
Camp Lejeune Birth Defect Settlement Amounts
The law allowing Camp Lejeune birth defect claims was just passed. So it is too soon to project with great accuracy birth defect settlement amounts. Our knows know people want to be included in our private thinking on potential settlement amounts, however speculative that may be.
So we can try to approximate what the average settlement compensation payouts might be for successful Camp Lejeune water contamination claimants in birth defect cases. Prior settlements and verdicts in other tort cases involving birth defects or birth injuries with similar characteristics can serve as guidance.
What Is The Possible Range of Birth Defect Settlement Amounts?
Our lawyers think that Camp Lejeune claims involving birth defects (specifically spina bifida) could have a very high value depending on the long-term severity of the birth defect. Spina bifida can result in lifelong physical and mental disabilities similar to other birth injuries such as cerebral palsy. These cases could have a settlement value of $750,000 to $1,500,000 or possibly even higher.
Camp Lejeune lawsuits involving birth defects that do not involve major long-term disabilities may have a typical settlement payout range between $125,000 to $400,000, depending largely on the severity and permanency of the condition.
Example Camp Lejeune Birth Defects Lawsuit
An example of a recent Camp Lejeune birth defects case is Brewer, et al. v. United States (7:22-cv-150), which was filed in the Eastern District of North Carolina on August 11, 2022. The Brewer case involves a group of five plaintiffs who were born with various birth defects following in utero exposure to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune.
Cathlene Brewer was born at Camp Lejeune in 1956 and lived there until 1959 when her father was stationed on the base. Brewer’s mother lived on base while pregnant, subjecting her to in utero exposure to the toxic water. Brewer was born with “severe defects in her eyes and ears.”
Plaintiff Jeffrey Hopkins also had a father stationed at the base. Hopkins was born at Camp Lejeune in 1955 and lived there until around 1959. His mother lived on the base while she was pregnant with him. Hopkins was born with severe defects in his eyes which eventually resulted in blindness.
Another plaintiff, James Maxwell, was conceived and born at Camp Lejeune in 1982 and resided there until approximately 1989. Maxwell was born with serious defects in his kidneys. After years of problems and complications, Maxwell suffered from total kidney failure in 2003.
Sherry Miller was also conceived while her parents were living at Camp Lejeune. She was born on the base in 1962 and lived there with her family until 1963. Miller was born with a congenital spine disorder that has caused tracia mitro valve prolapse, a bony growth on the back of her skull, and required two spinal surgeries.
The last plaintiff, Gena Parkhurst, was also conceived at Camp Lejeune and born on the base in 1965. She continued to live at Lejeune until October 1966. Parkhurst was born with several birth defects including spina bifida, maxillofacial skeletal anomalies, and malformation in her hip. Parkhurst’s birth defects have caused her to suffer from physical and emotional pain her entire life.
All five plaintiffs in the Brewer case assert causes of action under the CLJA and allege that their exposure to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune “caused or at least as likely as not caused” their birth defects. The scientific evidence associated birth defects with the toxic water at Camp Lejeune is particularly strong.
Contact Us About a Camp Lejeune Birth Defect Lawsuit
If you were born with a neural tube birth defect that may have been caused by the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, contact our office today to see if you may be eligible to file a claim. Call 800-553-8082 or get a free online consultation.