Our attorneys are currently seeking victims seeking to file a Camp Lejeune cancer lawsuit in all 50 states. Anyone who lived or worked at Camp Lejeune before 1988 and was subsequently diagnosed with hepatic steatosis (fatty liver disease) may be entitled to compensation under a new federal law.
On this page, we provide:
- A summary of the water contamination at Camp Lejeune
- examine the connection between exposure to the toxic water at Lejeune and fatty liver disease
- explain who may be eligible to bring a Camp Lejeune case for fatty liver disease
- provide estimated settlement values for Camp Lejuene fatty liver disease lawsuits.
Toxic Water at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune
The Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune is a major military base and training facility located on the North Carolina coast just north of Wilmington, NC. Camp Lejeune has been in continuous use by the Marine Corps base since the 1940s.
Camp Lejeune has barracks, family housing, schools, hospitals, and accommodations that make it very much like a small town. The on-base resident population at Camp Lejeune during the relevant period was around 54,000. This was mostly active duty Marines, but also included spouses, children, and other family members. Lejeune was also a workplace for thousands of civilian employees.
Camp Lejeune has its own water supply system to support its resident population. The system utilized groundwater pumps from massive wells located throughout the base. For decades, the water quality at Camp Lejeune was never tested. In the 1980s, however, new regulations forced the Marines to test the water quality at Lejeune for the first time. This led to the shocking discovery that the water at Camp Lejeune was poisoned with extremely high levels of toxic chemicals known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
What Chemicals Were in the Water at Camp Lejeune?
The two primary contaminants in the Camp Lejeune water were perchloroethylene (PCE) and trichloroethylene (TCE). TCE and PCE are part of a family of chemicals known as chlorinated solvents or organic solvents and these chemicals were found at dangerously high levels in the Lejeune water.
PCE is used in the dry-cleaning industry as a garment solvent. Testing determined that the PCE contamination at Lejeune came from improper disposal methods at ABC Cleaners, a dry-cleaning business directly adjacent to the base. TCE is another type of chemical solvent that is often used on large metal equipment. TCE was most likely used at Camp Lejeune to clean and maintain military weapons, equipment, and ordinance. It got into the groundwater through improper disposal and storage.
Two other carcinogenic chemicals were found at notably high levels in the Lejeune water system: benzene and vinyl chloride. Benzene is a petroleum byproduct that is used for a variety of industrial purposes. Benzene is a notorious human carcinogen. Vinyl chloride is a chemical that is mostly used to manufacture plastic pipes. It is highly toxic and known to be associated with various types of cancer.
How Contaminated Was the Water at Camp Lejeune?
Camp Lejeune is generally regarded as one of the worst incidents of water contamination in U.S. history because the levels of the chemical in the water were dangerously high for a very long period. Public health agencies have set the maximum safe level for PCE and TCE in drinking water at 5 parts per billion (ppb). TCE levels in the Camp Lejeune water were 1,4000 and PCE levels were 215, which is thousands of times above the maximum safe limit.
When Was the Camp Lejeune Water Contaminated?
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), which is part of the CDC, research, testing, and historical modeling of the water contamination at Camp Lejeune. Based on this data, the ATSDR concluded that the Lejeune water contamination began in August 1953 and ended in December 1987.
Fatty Liver Disease (Hepatic Steatosis)
Fatty liver, also known as hepatic steatosis, is a condition that occurs when fat accumulates in the liver. Fatty liver is a silent disease, often with no symptoms, especially in the early stages. Some people may experience fatigue, discomfort in the upper right abdomen, or unexplained weight loss. However, these symptoms are usually vague and non-specific. The disease is often discovered incidentally during routine blood tests or imaging studies done for other reasons, such as ultrasonography, which shows the liver’s increased echogenicity (brightness).
Pollutants, such as endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) that were in the water at Camp Lejeune, are also believed to contribute to metabolic diseases, including NAFLD. These chemicals can interfere with the body’s endocrine system, impacting metabolic function and contributing to conditions such as obesity and insulin resistance, both of which are risk factors for NAFLD.
Types of Fatty Liver Disease
There are two primary types of fatty liver disease: alcoholic fatty liver disease (AFLD) and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). As the names suggest, AFLD is the result of heavy alcohol consumption, while NAFLD is not linked to alcohol use and is more closely associated with obesity, insulin resistance, and metabolic syndrome. Of course, the Lejeune focus is on NAFLD.
NAFLD further divides into two subcategories: simple fatty liver (steatosis) and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). Steatosis, the most common form, is usually benign and does not progress to cause liver damage. However, NASH is a more serious condition, as inflammation and liver cell damage accompany the fat accumulation, potentially leading to fibrosis (scarring) and eventually cirrhosis or liver cancer.
Diagnosis is typically made through a combination of blood tests, imaging studies, and sometimes a liver biopsy. Liver enzymes ALT and AST may be elevated in blood tests. Imaging tests like ultrasound, CT scan, or MRI can show fat in the liver. The most definitive diagnosis comes from a liver biopsy, where a small sample of liver tissue is examined under a microscope. However, due to its invasive nature, a biopsy is reserved for cases where the diagnosis is unclear or when more severe disease is suspected.
Medication management is typically reserved for those who have NASH or fibrosis. No specific drugs are currently approved for NAFLD, but medications for comorbid conditions like diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure can help manage the disease. Some experimental drugs are under study for treating NASH. For advanced stages of cirrhosis and liver failure, a liver transplant might be the only option.
Evidence Linking Camp Lejeune Water Contamination to Fatty Liver Disease
Fatty liver disease (hepatic steatosis) is a liver condition resulting from the buildup of too much fat in the liver. Fatty liver disease often has no symptoms, but in some cases, it can eventually lead to liver damage. If left untreated, fatty liver disease can progress into cirrhosis of the liver, which is very serious and potentially fatal.
The ATSDR and various other public health agencies have done an extensive research to evaluate the impact that the water contamination at Camp Lejeune had on base residents and employees who were exposed to it. Epidemiological studies have also been done on the connection between exposure to PCE and TCE and various types of cancers and other health conditions. All of these sources have identified a clear causal connection between fatty liver disease (hepatic steatosis) and the TCE and PCE in the water at Camp Lejeune.
Fatty liver disease and liver cancer are among those health conditions that the Veteran’s Administration has previously labeled as being “presumptively” related to the water at Camp Lejeune.
Who Is Eligible to File a Camp Lejeune Fatty Liver Disease Lawsuit?
Under a new federal law called the Camp Lejeune Justice Act (CLJA), anyone who worked or lived at Camp Lejeune for at least 1 month between August 1953 and December 1987 is now eligible to bring a civil lawsuit for harm caused by the toxic water at Lejeune. Anyone who can prove that they lived or worked at Lejeune during this time and prove that they were subsequently diagnosed with fatty liver disease will be able to bring a case.
Projected Settlement Value of Camp Lejeune Fatty Liver Disease Cases
Our lawyers estimate that a successful Camp Lejeune lawsuit involving fatty liver disease could have a settlement value between $100,000 and $275,000. This value estimate is lower than our estimates for other types of Camp Lejeune cases primarily because fatty liver disease is not as serious as other injuries such as liver cancer or Parkinson’s disease.
Fatty liver disease is generally something than can be effectively managed and treated. The condition can lead to other health complications or progress into more serious diseases (e.g., cirrhosis of the liver), but otherwise fatty liver disease is not life-threatening. You could see some cases, however, in which fatty liver disease led to complications and death and those cases could have a very high value.
Contact Us About a Camp Lejeune Fatty Liver Disease Lawsuit
If you lived or worked at Camp Lejeune between 1953 and 1987 and you were later diagnosed with fatty liver disease (hepatic steatosis) from toxic water, call us today at 800-553-8082 to see if you have a case. You can also get a free, no-obligation case review online.