Our lawyers are currently seeking Camp Lejeune cancer lawsuits in all 50 states. Marines and their families who lived or worked at Camp Lejeune between 1953 and 1987 and were later diagnosed with breast cancer have a potential Camp Lejeune breast cancer lawsuit.
On this page, which was last updated on November 3, 2022, our lawyers:
- provide an overview of the Camp Lejeune water contamination
- examine the link between exposure to that water and increased breast cancer rates
- describe the qualifying criteria our lawyers use in determining who may be eligible to bring a Camp Lejeune breast cancer case
- predict settlement amounts and jury payouts for Camp Lejeune breast cancer lawsuits.
Carcinogenic Chemicals in the Water at Camp Lejeune
Camp Lejeune is a major U.S. Marine Corps training facility and base located on the North Carolina coast near the town of Jacksonville, NC. Lejeune has been in continuous operation since 1942 and during that time it has served as a home for an on-base resident population of around 50,000 at any given time.
Camp Lejeune is like a small town with housing, schools, and hospitals. To service these residents, Camp Lejeune operated its own potable water supply system, which drew from several large underground aquifers. Unfortunately, for 34 years the groundwater at Lejeune was essentially being poisoned with carcinogenic chemicals.
When the Lejeune water supply was tested for the first time in the 1980s (in response to new environmental regulations) it was discovered that it contained extremely high levels of dangerous chemicals that have been linked to cancer.
PCE and TCE
The two primary toxic chemicals found at high levels in the Camp Lejeune water supply were perchloroethylene (PCE) and trichloroethylene (TCE). TCE and PCE belong to a group of chemicals known as chlorinated solvents. The science that demonstrates that human exposure to chlorinated ethylene solvents like PCE and TCE threaten health is hardly controversial.
PCE is the primary cleaning agent used in the commercial dry-cleaning industry. The source of the PCE contamination at Lejeune has been traced back to a dry-cleaning business (ABC Cleaners) that operated just off base. Employees and businesses dumped used chemicals into a ground pit out back.
TCE is a similar chemical solvent that is commonly used as a metal degreaser and cleaner. It was regularly used by the Marine Corps at Camp Lejeune to clean weapons, artillery, and ordinance.
Vinyl Chloride and Benzene
The Camp Lejeune water was also contaminated with additional toxins, including benzene and vinyl chloride. Benzene is derived from petroleum and is a component in refined gasoline and other fuels. Benzene is a widely used chemical that has many commercial applications, but it is a well-known human carcinogen.
Vinyl chloride is a chemical that is most commonly used in the manufacture of plastic pipes. Vinyl chloride is a very toxic chemical that is well known to be associated with various types of cancer. The vinyl chloride contamination at Camp Lejeune is believed to be the result of the chemical breakdown of TCE and PCE.
How Contaminated was the Camp Lejeune Water?
The water at Camp Lejeune contained extremely high levels of TCE and PCE. The maximum safe levels for TCE and PCE in drinking water is 5 parts per billion (ppb). The Lejeune water contained TCE levels as high as 1,400 ppb. That is 280 times the maximum safe limit. PCE levels were as high as 215 ppb.
When Did the Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Occur?
The water contamination at Camp Lejeune was first detected in 1982, but it was not until 1987 that the Marine Corps corrected the problem. In 1991, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) began performing extensive testing and research on the ground at Lejeune. Based on historical modeling data developed by the ATSDR, it is believed that the water contamination at Lejeune began in August 1953 and lasted until December 1987.
Scientific Evidence Linking the Toxic Water at Lejeune to Cancer
People exposed to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune have a much higher risk of cancer. One study that compared the mortality rates of Marines posted at Camp Lejeune and Camp Pendleton in California over the same period.
The study found that Camp Lejeune Marines with high exposure to the toxic drinking water at Camp Lejeune’s had a much higher death rate from cancer. For example, Camp Lejeune Marines with high exposure to contaminated water were 580% more likely to die of cervical cancer than Camp Pendleton Marines, while Camp Lejeune Marines with low to no exposure to contaminated water were 112% more likely to die of cervical cancer than Camp Pendleton Marines.
Scientific Evidence Linking Toxic Water at Camp Lejeune to Breast Cancer
Several public health agencies, led by the ATSDR and the CDC, have conducted major studies and other research to quantify the health consequences of the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune on those who were exposed to it. The ATSDR collected health data from thousands of former Marines and civilians who either worked or lived at Camp Lejeune during the relevant time frame. This data was compared to health information for a control group of residents and employees from another Marine base in California (Camp Pendleton) which had clean water.
The ATSDR Study – the same study comparing Camp Pendleton – concluded that the Camp Lejeune population displayed a significantly higher risk of breast cancer. The results of the ATSDR study also indicated that there was a correlation between the extent of exposure to the toxic water at Lejeune and the rate of breast cancer.
In other words, those individuals in the group with more significant exposure to the Lejeune water displayed the highest breast cancer rates.
Epidemiological Evidence Linking Breast Cancer to Chlorinated Solvents
Epidemiological evidence outside the Camp Lejeune context has also shown that occupational exposure to chlorinated solvents in the Lejeune water supply (PCE and TCE) may be linked to breast cancer.
In 2007, a study published in the Journal of Occupational Health indicated that women with occupational exposure to TCE and PCE displayed higher than normal breast cancer rates.
The study looked at electronic factory workers in Taiwan with significant occupational exposure to chlorinated solvents (namely PCE and TCE) and found that this group displayed a “significantly elevated incidence of breast cancer.”
Male breast cancer is rare. But there were at least 65 instances of male breast cancer in men who served or lived at Camp Lejeune between 1957 and 1987 and likely many more. These breast cancer cases also often came early in life. Many of the veterans were diagnosed in their 30s and 40s. Putting this in context, there are less than 3,000 male breast cancer cases in the country every year.
Who is Eligible to Bring a Camp Lejeune Breast Cancer Lawsuit?
Under a recently passed federal law, anyone who worked or lived at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days between 1953 and 1987 is eligible to bring a civil claim for injuries allegedly caused by exposure to the toxic water at Lejeune during that time. Anyone who can prove that they lived or worked at Camp Lejeune during this time and was later diagnosed with breast cancer would be eligible to bring a case.
What Settlements Amounts Do Your Lawyers Project for Camp Lejeune Breast Cancer Lawsuits?
Our lawyers believe that successful Camp Lejeune breast cancer cases could have average individual settlement compensation payouts between $250,000 and $350,000.
The settlement amounts for a Camp Lejeune breast cancer lawsuit will vary depending on what stage the breast cancer diagnosis and the outcome was. The age and circumstances of the plaintiff will also factor into the value of the case.
There will also likely be million-dollar breast cancer settlements because there will be some cases that are that compelling. If Camp Lejeune breast cancer lawsuits go to trial, you could see jury verdicts over $10 million in a jurisdiction where there is no cap on noneconomic damages. This is why you are more likely to reach settlements than jury payouts in these claims.
How Do You Prove Your Claim to the Government for a Camp Lejeune Breast Cancer Settlement
Plaintiffs who bring a Camp Lejeune lawsuit under the new CLJA law will need to prove that they lived or worked at Camp Lejeune or were “otherwise exposed” to contaminated water on the base. Potential sources of proof for this will include testimony from the plaintiff (or in case of death, testimony from family members with personal knowledge), DD214 forms, full military service records, DoD personnel file, and employment records.
Example Camp Lejeune Breast Cancer Lawsuit
One example breast cancer lawsuit from Camp Lejeune is Partain, et al. v. United States (7:22-cv-132). Most of the breast cancer lawsuits lawyers are handling are women. But Partain is one of many Camp Lejeune male breast cancer cases brought by a group of four plaintiffs alleging that they (or their decedent) developed male breast cancer after working or living at Camp Lejeune. Three of the plaintiffs are bringing the Camp Lejeune breast cancer claims in their own right. The remaining plaintiff is bringing a breast cancer wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of her deceased husband.
The lawsuit in Partain adopts the simple cause of action pleading style, so there are no specific factual allegations regarding the exact time frames that the plaintiffs lived or worked at Camp Lejeune. It only states that each individual lived or worked there for at least 30 days during the contamination period and was subsequently diagnosed with breast cancer.
Equipoise Causation Standard in Camp Lejeune Male Breast Cancer Cases
If this case involved female breast cancer, causation would be more of an issue. Breast cancer is so common that 1 out of every 9 women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with it at some point in their life. The ubiquitous nature of breast cancer in women makes causation hard to pin down, at least under the normal “more likely than not” evidentiary standard. Under the equipoise causation standard adopted by the CLJA, however, proving causation in female breast cancer cases will be much easier.
The causation analysis is much different in this case, however, because all the victims were men. Breast cancer in men is exceedingly rare, so isolating a causal link with contaminated water would be easier, even under the traditional evidentiary standard. The ATSDR has done a specific study on the connection between male breast cancer and the water at Camp Lejeune. The study found that male breast cancer was linked to PCE and vinyl chloride exposure in the Lejeune water.
Contact Us About a Camp Lejeune Breast Cancer Lawsuit
If you lived or worked at Camp Lejeune between 1953 and 1987 and you were later diagnosed with breast cancer from the bad water on that base, call us today at 800-553-8082 to see if you have a compensation claim. You can also get a free, no-obligation case review online.