Marines, civilian residents, and employees at Camp Lejeune may have developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma from exposure to toxic chemicals in the drinking water for over three decades. Thanks to a new federal law, victims can now file Camp Lejeune non-Hodgkin lymphoma lawsuits against the government and get financial compensation for their injuries.
Our attorneys are handling Camp Lejeune lymphoma lawsuits in all 50 states. This page will examine Camp Lejeune NHL cases and their expected settlement value.
December 1, 2023 – First Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Settlement
There has been one non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma settlement for $300,000.
September 28, 2023 – NHL Cases Will Be Among First Lejeune Cases to Go to Trial
The federal court in North Carolina overseeing the CLJA lawsuits recently announced that the first trials in these cases will begin next year. The trials will be done in groups or “tracks” based on the type of disease alleged by the plaintiff. Cases involving non-Hodgkin lymphoma will be in Track 1, so they will be among the first cases to go to trial next year.
August 30, 2023 – NHL Cases Could Be In First Camp Lejeune Settlement Group
This week, both sides in the consolidated Camp Lejeune litigation submitted proposals to the court for how the pending Lejeune cases should be grouped and prioritized moving forward. The cases will be divided in to groups or “tracks” based on the type of disease alleged by the plaintiff. Those in Track 1 will get first priority and will likely be the first to get settlements. The plaintiffs are seeking to include non-Hodgkin Lymphoma cases in the Track 1 trial group. However, the government’s proposal excludes NHL cases from this first group. If included in Track 1, lymphoma plaintiffs could get settlements by the end of next year.
Camp Lejeune and Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma
From 1953 to 1987, everyone who worked or lived at the Camp Lejeune military base in North Carolina was exposed to carcinogenic chemicals in their drinking water. Scientific studies have determined that these chemicals caused base residents and employees to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma at a significantly higher rate than other populations. Lymphoma has been specifically linked to chronic exposure to high levels of TCE, one of the chemicals found in the Lejeune water supply.
What Happened With the Water at Camp Lejeune?
Camp Lejeune is major Marine Corps training facility and base on the North Carolina coast north of Wilmington. The base has been in operation since 1942 and it accommodates around 50,000 residents at a time plus thousands more who worked on the base. The resident and workforce population at Lejeune has included Marines and their families and also civilian employees.
The Marine Corps constructed and maintain an independent water supply system to service the population of Camp Lejeune. The Camp Lejeune water system was fed by massive underground aquifers accessed by numerous pump wells. The water pumped out of the ground was routed directly into a gravity base supply system.
Over the years, the water supply at Camp Lejeune was never tested for impurities. That changed in the 1980s, however, when new environmental regulations began to require periodic quality testing. This testing led to the initial discovery that the drinking water supply at Camp Lejeune was extremely contaminated with toxic, carcinogenic chemicals. The water was contaminated with several toxic chemicals, including benzene, trichloroethylene (TCE), and perchloroethylene (PCE), chemicals that can cause non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. As a result, thousands of people, including military personnel and their families, who lived or worked at Camp Lejeune during this time were have been exposed to these awful toxins.
TCE and PCE Poisoned the Camp Lejeune Water
The Camp Lejeune water was found to contain two chlorinated solvents: perchloroethylene (PCE) and trichloroethylene (TCE), and vinyl chloride, an extremely toxic chemical that forms the chemical breakdown of TCE and PCE. The source of the contamination was traced to a dry cleaning business and the improper disposal of chemicals used by the USMC to clean weapons.
Historical modeling determined that the Lejeune water system contamination began in 1953 and ended in 1987. The levels of TCE, PCE, and vinyl chloride contamination in the Camp Lejeune water over this three-decade period were several hundred times above the EPA maximum safe levels for human exposure.
Camp Lejeune is considered one of the worst public water contaminations in U.S. history because of the duration and extent of the contamination. Public health agencies assigned to evaluate the fallout have examined USMC records and estimated that over 1,000,000 people were exposed to the toxic water at Camp Lejeune, including both Marine and civilians.
Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is a type of cancer that originates in the body’s lymphatic system (lymph nodes). The lymphatic system is part of the immune system which helps defend against germs. When someone has non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, their white blood cells (lymphocytes) grow abnormally and can form into cancerous tumors in various parts of the body.
Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is the 7th most common type of cancer in the U.S. Each year, around 80,000 new cases of NHL are diagnosed. It is slightly more common in women than in men. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is one of the more survivable types of cancer with many effective treatment options. The overall five-year survival rate (including all stages) for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is 84%.
NHL can occur in any part of the body, but it often starts in the lymph nodes. These nodes are are small, bean-shaped structures that filter out bacteria and other harmful substances. As the cancerous cells grow and divide, they can spread to other lymph nodes and organs, including the bone marrow, spleen, and liver.
Evidence Linking Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma to Contaminated Water at Camp Lejeune
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), is the investigation branch of the CDC that performs field research and studies on public health issues. Since the early 1990s, the ATSDR has been on the ground at Camp Lejeune researching to assess the health consequences of the 34-year water contamination. The ATSDR is considered the foremost authority on the impact of the Lejeune water contamination.
In 2014, the results of the ATSDR’s comprehensive study on the health impact of the Lejeune water contamination were published. The ATSDR Study examined medical records and survey responses for thousands of former residents and employees at Camp Lejeune. This data was then compared to similar health data for a control group from Camp Pendleton, another Marine Corps base in California with a clean water supply system.
The ATSDR Study found that employees and residents at Camp Lejeune displayed significantly higher rates of cancer and various other diseases compared to the Camp Pendleton control group. The study concluded that there was a clear link between the Lejeune water and cancer.
The ATSDR Study listed all of the cancer types and health conditions that were associated with the chemicals in the Camp Lejeune water supply and ranked them into two different tiers based on the strength of causation evidence. Tier I was for those diseases with the strongest evidence of a causal connection to the Camp Lejeune water. Causation evidence for diseases in Tier I included more than one epidemiological study and evidence in the ATSDR health survey.
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma was one of the diseases that the ATSDR listed in Tier I as having the strongest evidence of being linked to exposure to the Camp Lejeune water supply. According to the ATSDR Study, multiple epidemiologic studies have specifically linked non-Hodgkin lymphoma linked to occupational exposure to TCE, a solvent commonly used in the dry cleaning industry.
The scientific studies linking TCE exposure to non-Hodgkin lymphoma include a 2013 study published in the journal Occupational Environmental Medicine. This study found that individuals with long-term exposure to TCE in the workplace were 6 times more likely to develop lymphoma. A similar conclusion about the link between TCE exposure and non-Hodgkin lymphoma was also reached in a previous study published in 2010.
Another chemical compound called polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which were commonly used in electrical equipment and other industrial applications until they were banned in the 1970s. PCBs are known to linger in the environment for many years and contaminated water sources at Lejeune.
In some cases, drinking water contaminated with PCBs or other chemicals has been linked to an increased risk of developing NHL. For example, a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology in 2013 found that people who lived in areas with higher levels of PCB contamination in their drinking water had a higher risk of NHL.
Can Camp Lejeune Victims File Lawsuits for Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma?
Individuals who developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma after exposure to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune can now file civil lawsuits and get financial compensation. In August 2022, Congress passed a new law called the Camp Lejeune Justice Act (CLJA). The CLJA enables victims of Camp Lejeune water contamination to bring tort claims against the government after years of being legally blocked by a strict law in North Carolina.
Marines or civilians who lived or worked at Camp Lejeune for at least 1 month between August 1953 and December 1987 are eligible to bring civil claims under the CLJA for injuries allegedly caused by their exposure to the contaminated water at the base. For those former Lejeune residents or employees that have already died, their estate can bring a claim under the CLJA for wrongful death.
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is one of the diseases with the strongest causal connection to exposure to the carcinogenic chemicals in the Camp Lejeune water. The ATSDR identified non-Hodgkin lymphoma as one of only 6 other diseases that it ranked in Tier I in terms of the strength of causation evidence. Both the ATSDR Study based on the health survey of thousands of former Lejeune residents and independent epidemiological studies have found that exposure to TCE (one of the main chemicals in the Lejeune water supply) is strongly associated with increased rates of Non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Settlement Amounts for a Camp Lejeune Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Lawsuit
There is no way to say for certain how much Camp Lejeune cases involving NHL will be worth. But we offer an estimate of their potential settlement amounts based on prior tort cases involving non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, the strength of the epidemiological link between lymphoma and toxic water, and the general nature of this type of cancer.
Based on these data points, our lawyers estimate that successful Camp Lejeune cases based on Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma will have individual settlement amounts in the range of $180,000 to $425,000. As of November 27th, there has been exactly one Camp Lejeune settlement in a non-Hodgkin’s case for $300,000.
This estimated value is lower than other types of Camp Lejeune cancer cases, in part because the survivability rate for NHL is high. NHL wrongful death claims will likely have a higher average.
This estimate is also based on the recent value of NHL claims in the Roundup litigation, where over 100,000 claims involving NHL allegedly linked to Roundup were recently settled with an average payout of $150,000 (higher settlement amount projected for Lejeune because the case is even stronger than Roundup).
Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Settlements & Verdicts
Below are summaries of reported settlements and verdicts in prior tort cases in which the plaintiff’s primary injury was non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The verdict amounts reported below only include compensatory damages. Any punitive damage awards are excluded because the CLJA does not permit punitive damages.
- Pilliod v Monsanto (California 2019) $55,206,176: this was the last of the initial Roundup test trials. It involved a husband and wife who claimed that they both developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma after years of using Roundup for home gardening. A jury in Oakland, CA awarded a staggering $2.5 billion verdict (later reduced). $2 billion was for punitive damages, but the verdict also included $55.2 million in compensatory damages, most of which was for pain & suffering.
- Eaves v Ashland Inc. (California 2019) $21,385,000: plaintiffs were a pair of brothers who claimed they developed NHL from exposure to benzene while working at tire plant. The jury awarded $21.3 million in damages.
- Hardeman v Monsanto (California 2019) $5,267,634: plaintiff used Roundup for several decades to control poison oak on his property and claimed that this caused him to develop large B-Cell NHL. A federal jury awarded a total of $80.2 million, which included $75 million in punitive damages and $5.2 million in compensatory damages.
- Zarandy v University of California (California 2019) $250,000: medical malpractice cases involving failure to timely diagnose non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Award of $250,000 was low due to the fact that the plaintiff was elderly.
- Lammers v Tote Services Inc. (California 2015) $2,308,513: plaintiff alleged that he developed NHL from chronic exposure to benzene during scope of his employment as a seaman on oil tanker ships. Jury awarded $2.3 million in compensatory damages.
- Pacheco v Nash (New York 2008) $1,300,000: doctor was accused of negligently failing to diagnose a woman’s non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma resulting in delay and progression of the disease. Case settled for $1.3 million.
Example Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Lawsuit
An example NHL lawsuit from Camp Lejeune is Deforge, et al. v. United States (7:22-cv-129). This lawsuit is one of the Camp Lejeune “legacy cases” that were dismissed back in 2016 under the North Carolina law and re-filed on August 10, 2022, when the CLJA was signed into law. So the plaintiffs could skip the six-month administrative period before filing a claim because these Marines (and a base employee) had already gone through the process years ago.
The Deforge case presents a group of 5 plaintiffs, four of whom served at Camp Lejeune and 1 who worked on base. All five were diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL). The non-Hodgkin’s disease lawsuit alleges that the five plaintiffs were exposed to toxic chemicals in the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune during their time serving or working on base. The Complaint also asserts that the plaintiffs’ exposure to these chemicals was the cause of their non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The Complaint asserts a single caused of action under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act and seeking monetary damages for medical expenses and pain and suffering.
Plaintiff Jerry Deforge served at Camp Lejeune for 6 months in 1984. He resided in the bachelor housing barracks while undergoing mortar and infantry training on the base. In 2011, 16 years after his time at Camp Lejeune, Deforge was diagnosed with NHL.
Plaintiff James Flenoury was also at Camp Lejeune for 6 months of communications training in 1986 and 1987. He was 21 years old at the time. In 2010, 24 years later, Flenoury was diagnosed with NHL. Flenoury has also suffered from other conditions, including neuropathy.
Plaintiff Joel Pedaline was stationed at Camp Lejeune for a total of five years from 1975 to 1980. Pedaline was just 18 when first came to the Camp Lejeune. Years later, Pedaline was diagnosed with NHL.
Plaintiff David Sharpe entered the Marine Corps in 1954 when he was 18 and served for 12 years before being honorably discharged in 1967. Sharpe spent 4 of his years in the Marines stationed at Camp Lejeune, where he lived in the family housing units at Tarawa Terrace. Following his time at Lejeune, Sharpe was diagnosed with NHL. Sharpe has also been diagnosed with prostate cancer and skin cancer.
The final plaintiff, Ronald Carter, was a civilian who worked at Camp Lejeune from 1968 to 2007. Carter’s tenure at Camp Lejeune included 20 years during the time that the water was contaminated. Like the other plaintiffs, Carter was subsequently diagnosed with NHL.
Contact Us About Camp Lejeune Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma Cases
If you (or a deceased family member) lived or worked at Camp Lejeune between 1953 and 1987 and you subsequently developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma, 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.