Our attorneys handle Camp Lejeune liver cancer and fatty liver disease lawsuits in all 50 states.
You can argue that liver cancer is the most potent disease linked to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune. Why? Unlike most diseases from Camp Lejeune’s toxic water, liver cancer is linked to all three significant contaminants at Camp Lejeune: TCE, PCE, and benzene.
So we expect the government to be willing to offer reasonable settlement amounts in Camp Lejeune liver cancer lawsuits because of the evidence that liver cancer is linked to Lejeune.
October 2, 2023: It was recently announced that the first Camp Lejeune lawsuits in North Carolina federal court will go to trial starting next year.
The cases will be divided into groups for trial based on the injury alleged by the plaintiff. The first trial group will include Plaintiffs with liver cancer, meaning they will be among the first cases to go to trial next year.
Liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), is a type of cancer that begins in the cells of the liver. The liver is the largest organ in the body and is responsible for essential functions such as filtering toxins, storing nutrients, and producing bile to aid digestion. Liver cancer occurs when cells in the liver begin to grow uncontrollably and form tumors.
Several risk factors are associated with liver cancer, including chronic hepatitis B or C infection, cirrhosis (liver scarring), heavy alcohol use, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, obesity, and exposure to certain chemicals or toxins. Specifically, as we get into below, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including trichloroethylene (TCE) and perchloroethylene (PCE), are known carcinogens that have been strongly correlated to water contamination generally and Camp Lejeune specifically. Many former residents and military personnel stationed at Camp Lejeune during this period have developed liver cancer and other illnesses due to exposure to these contaminants. Studies have found that exposure to TCE and PCE can increase the risk of liver cancer.
Benzene is also an issue. Studies have shown that workers in benzene industries, such as the chemical and oil industries, have a higher risk of developing liver cancer. Additionally, individuals who live near hazardous waste sites or are exposed to contaminated water that contains benzene are at an increased risk of developing liver cancer.
Water Contamination and Liver Cancer
From 1953 to 1987 – and maybe longer – Marines, their families, and employees at the Camp Lejeune military base in North Carolina were exposed to carcinogenic chemicals in their drinking water. Scientific studies have concluded that these chemicals caused base residents and employees to develop various types of cancer and other diseases.
Vinyl Chloride and Liver Cancer and Disease
Vinyl Chloride is a chemical used to produce polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a commonly used plastic material. It is a highly toxic and carcinogenic substance and long-term exposure to vinyl chloride has been linked to an increased risk of liver cancer.
Liver cancer and fatty liver disease are two health conditions conclusively linked to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune. Importantly, high amounts of vinyl chloride were found at Camp Lejeune. Long before the Camp Lejeune lawsuit, the connection between vinyl chloride and liver cancer and fatty liver disease has been well understood in the medical literature.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified vinyl chloride as a human carcinogen based on the evidence of its association with liver cancer and angiosarcoma, a rare form of cancer that affects the blood vessels. In addition, the National Toxicology Program (NTP) has also declared vinyl chloride as a known human carcinogen.
Studies have shown that workers in the PVC production industry who are exposed to high levels of vinyl chloride, are at an increased risk of developing liver cancer. This is because the chemical can be easily absorbed through the skin, lungs, and digestive system, and once inside the body, it can cause damage to the DNA in cells and disrupt the normal liver functioning.
Liver Cancer and TCE
Trichloroethylene is a chemical solvent commonly used for industrial purposes. Exposure to TCE has been linked to various health issues, including liver cancer.
Studies have shown that TCE can increase the risk of developing human liver cancer.
Studies have shown that TCE exposure can cause damage to the liver, including cirrhosis, fibrosis, and steatosis. These conditions can increase the risk of developing liver cancer. Some studies have also found that TCE exposure can increase the levels of certain liver enzymes, which are markers for liver damage.
The exact mechanism by which TCE causes liver damage and increases the risk of liver cancer is not yet fully understood. However, the chemical is believed to cause oxidative stress in the liver, leading to inflammation and cell death. This, in turn, can damage the DNA in liver cells and increase cancer risk. So scientists think that TCE and its metabolites can cause genetic mutations and liver cell damage, leading to cancerous tumors.
TCE exposure is most commonly seen in industrial workers who work with the chemical regularly. However, contamination of groundwater and soil at Camp Lejeune was loaded with TCE. Ingestion, inhalation, or skin contact with contaminated water or soil can contribute to TCE exposure.
Liver Cancer and PCE
Perchloroethylene is the primary solvent used in commercial and industrial dry cleaning. Perhaps the single most significant source of contamination at Camp Lejeune was from ABC Dry Cleaner. PCE is a heavy substance, and gravity is a downward force. PCE found its way into the drinking water at Camp Lejeune at stunning levels.
The connection between liver disease and PCE is not new. In the 1960s, reports documented the risks of inhaling PCE on the liver. These include toxicity to the liver from daily exposures. This latter result led the German authors to conclude that PCE’s toxicity to the liver was sufficient to disqualify workers with pre-existing liver dysfunction or disease from employment.
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 is a new law that aims to provide compensation and support to individuals impacted by the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune. This act allows individuals who resided, worked, or were otherwise exposed to the contaminated water on the base between the years 1953 to 1987 to bring a cause of action against the U.S. government for financial compensation. In other words, the government passed a law allowing victims to sue.
Our firm currently accepts cases from individuals who lived or worked at Camp Lejeune and were diagnosed with liver cancer, fatty liver disease, or other severe liver conditions.
History of Camp Lejeune Water Contamination
Just north of Wilmington, North Carolina, there is a sprawling Marine Corps base and training facility called Camp Lejeune. Camp Lejeune has been in continuous use since WWII. At any given time, it is home to about 50,000 people and a workplace for several thousand more. The base has barracks, family housing, schools, hospitals, and its own drinking water supply system fed by massive underground aquifer wells.
Dangerously high levels of two toxic chemicals, perchloroethylene (PCE) and trichloroethylene (TCE) (which are known as chlorinated solvents), contaminated the water supply at Camp Lejeune from 1953 until later 1987. These carcinogens found in the Lejeune water during this period were over a thousand times higher than the EPA’s maximum safe levels.
It has been estimated that just 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 high levels of TCE and PCE.
Liver Cancer Camp Lejeune Water Studies
Camp Lejeune was among the worst drinking water contamination incidents in U.S. history. Several public health agencies have spent decades studying how the chemicals in the water may have impacted the long-term health of residents and employees at Lejeune.
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), a branch of the CDC, has researched and studied water contamination at Camp Lejeune since 1991. The ATSDR’s work at Lejeune has yielded historical modeling of the estimated contamination levels in the Lejeune water systems over the previous four decades.
Over the years, the contamination modeling data developed by the ATSDR has enabled several epidemiologic studies on individuals exposed to the Lejeune water. These studies have identified various adverse health outcomes associated with Lejeune, including birth defects, cancer, and other diseases.
2009 NRC Report
National Research Council (NRC) released a report in 2009 entitled Contaminated Water Supplies at Camp Lejeune: Assessing Potential Health Effects (NRC Report), one of the first comprehensive reports on the potential consequences of the Cam Lejeune water. The NRC Report concluded that there was evidence that exposure to the water at Lejeune caused higher rates of liver cancer. There was also evidence that the Lejeune water caused fatty liver disease.
VA Clinical Guidance
In 2011, the Veteran’s Administration (VA) formed a special committee composed of leading medical and scientific experts (the “VA Committee”). The VA Committee was tasked with reviewing the available evidence and providing the VA with clinical opinions on what diseases and health conditions could be linked to the Lejeune water contamination based on solid evidence.
In 2012, the VA Committee published its official Clinical Guidance for health conditions related to Camp Lejeune. The VA Clinical Guidance identified liver cancer as one of 8 health conditions that were presumptively connected to the water contamination at Camp Lejeune.
The ATSDR published its long-term mortality and cancer incidence study results for the Camp Lejeune population (the “ATSDR Study”) in 2014. The ATSDR Study research the same conclusions about liver cancer and disease as previous studies. The ATSDR Study found clear evidence that exposure to TCE and PCE in the water at Camp Lejeune resulted in a significant increase in the rate of liver cancer among residents and employees. A similar association was found between exposure to water and fatty liver disease.
New Law Will Allow Camp Lejeune Lawsuits for Liver Cancer
Camp Lejeune water pollution victims have previously been barred from bringing civil lawsuits. Now, however, a new federal law will soon allow these victims to bring claims.
The CLJA gives victims of Camp Lejeune water contamination a 2-year window to file tort lawsuits against the government for injuries related to the water contamination. CLJA plaintiffs will have the burden of proving their claims, but the law creates a lowered evidentiary standard for causation.
Under this lowered standard, plaintiffs may not be required to support their claims with expert witness testimony, if their alleged health condition has been linked to Camp Lejeune in previous studies. Liver cancer has been linked to the Camp Lejeune water contamination, which means plaintiffs could establish per se causation based on existing health studies.
Camp Lejeune Liver Cancer Settlement Amounts
We can’t say with any level of certainty what the settlement value of Camp Lejeune liver cancer cases will be. Too many variables could impact the value of these cases and it is too early to give definitive answers.
Despite these limitations, we can provide a tentative estimate of the potential settlement value of Camp Lejeune liver cancer lawsuits by looking at settlements and verdicts for liver cancer in prior tort cases (e.g., failure to diagnose liver cancer). We can also look at the nature and survival rate for liver cancer as factors in the estimated valuation of these claims.
Based on these comparative points, we believe that Camp Lejeune claims under the CLJA based on liver cancer could have an average settlement value between $200,000 and $600,000. This is at the higher end of the value scale, primarily because liver cancer is dangerous. The overall 5-year survival rate for liver cancer (all stages) is just 20%.
Camp Lejeune Fatty Liver Disease Lawsuits
Fatty liver disease is a condition (steatosis) is a liver condition resulting from the buildup of too much fat in the liver. Fatty liver disease often has no symptoms, but it can eventually lead to liver damage in some cases.
Some cases of fatty liver disease can progress into cirrhosis of the liver, which is very serious. If left untreated, liver cirrhosis can lead to liver failure and/or liver cancer.
All of the public health studies have concluded that higher rates of fatty liver disease were associated with the Camp Lejeune water contamination. Individuals with fatty liver disease may be able to bring claims under the CLJA, especially if their fatty liver disease progresses into something more serious.
Contact Us About a Camp Lejeune Liver Cancer Lawsuit
If you lived or worked at Camp Lejeune from 1953 to 1987 and were later diagnosed with liver cancer or another liver disease, contact us today at 800-553-8082 for a free consultation or reach out to us online.