Camp Lejeune Lawsuit News and Updates

Our lawyers represent victims seeking a Camp Lejeune lawsuit in all 50 states.

This page provides more comprehensive and updated information on Camp Lejeune claims than anywhere.

This page provides the following:

  1. The latest news and updates on the Camp Lejeune lawsuit
  2. Who is eligible for compensation
  3. Projected per-person Camp Lejeune settlement amounts based on the type of claim
  4. How we can help you bring a suit to receive the compensation you deserve

Our lawyers provide a new update almost daily to give you the latest news on the litigation. We understand this process is confusing for many who have suffered so much.  We just reopened the comments below to answer any questions you may have.

Our last Camp Lejeune lawsuit update was on Tuesday, February 20, 2022, at 12:03 p.m.

If you have a potential Camp Lejeune lawsuit for the injury or death of a loved one, call our lawyers today at 800-553-8082 or get a free online consultation. There is no fee or cost unless you get financial compensation for the harm that was done to you.

Latest News on Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawsuit

Before we discuss the Camp Lejeune lawsuits and our lawyers’ estimates of expected settlement amounts, let’s examine the latest news in the toxic water lawsuits.

February 21, 2024 – Motion to Compel Water Modeling Project

The attorneys for Camp Lejeune victims have formally requested that the Court order the production of the ATSDR water modeling project file in its original, native format. They argue that the government’s proposed method of producing the file in pieces, as per the electronically stored information (ESI) guidelines, would disrupt its structure and render it largely non-functional.

What is the water modeling project and why do you care about it?  The Camp Lejeune water modeling project is a scientific endeavor led by the ATSDR to estimate historical water conditions at the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.

This project aimed to address the contamination of drinking water with volatile organic compounds, primarily TCE and PCE that we talk about below, that occurred between 1957 and 1987.  So it is a comprehensive record of the historic contamination levels at Camp Lejeune, containing thousands of files that interlink to form the complete picture of groundwater contamination.

The plaintiffs’ attorneys highlight that the ATSDR was required by law to study this contamination and that their water modeling has proven the presence of toxins in the water supply. The government has agreed to produce the project file but intends to do so in a disassembled form that would break the file’s organization, making it difficult to use. This move is considered contrary to the spirit of the stipulated order and the purpose of maintaining files in a manner that is accessible and usable for those needing the information.

To resolve this, the plaintiffs’ attorneys suggest that the government produce a “mirror” copy of the file in its native format, allowing for a side-by-side comparison with the government’s copy to ensure data integrity.  They further argue that the Federal Rules, case law, and common sense support the production of documents in their native format when the functionality of such files is crucial.

The motion concludes by stressing that the ESI Protocol should not prohibit the production of the native project file and that the terms may be amended to accommodate the unique circumstances of this case. Plaintiffs want to information and they are willing to work with the government and the judges to make it work.

February 20, 2024 – DOJ Response to Motion for Summary Judgment

The DOJ responded yesterday to the motion for summary judgment we discuss in our January 16, 2024 update below.  The government’s argument in a nutshell that it is an overreach to argue that plaintiffs should get compensation by merely proving their presence at Camp Lejeune for 30 days and possessing an illness that could be caused by the water.

This is still an important motion. But it is important that it was when it was filed.  Why? Because in the short term at least, there will not be Camp Lejeune jury trials.

February 15, 2024 – Jury Trial Appeal

Plaintiffs are appealing the February 6, 2024 order that dismissed all jury trial demands in lawsuits filed under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act.

Plaintiffs argue that the court’s decision raises a significant question of law regarding the entitlement of plaintiffs to a jury trial. This matter presents substantial grounds for a difference of opinion due to its novelty and complexity. They contend that an immediate appeal could significantly advance the litigation process, potentially saving extensive judicial and party resources.

How do we avoid this slowing down the litigation? This appeal is only filed on behalf of two cases. So approach does not affect the right of other plaintiffs to seek an appeal after a final judgment. The idea is that the court would only be restricted from revisiting the order for those two cases but would maintain its ability to oversee trials and keep this litigation on track.

The government may argue that because these rulings obviously would apply to all Camp Lejeune lawsuits, the whole litigation should be delayed.  But that is unlikely to fly. These judges seem committed to trials this year.

February 14, 2024 – Jury Trials

I think it is fair to say the court’s ruling that there will not be jury trials in this litigation is an unfortunate development.

But there is an upside. Bench trials can go very quickly. We may have multiple trials a week in four different courts.  Verdicts put pressure on defendants. If these four judges are fair and award reasonable compensation when warranted, getting many verdicts will pressure the government. Hopefully this speeds up the path to a better, more inclusive, and more lucrative global settlement offer for Lejeune victims.

February 12, 2024 – Status Conference

The next status conference is set for March 5, 2024.

February 7, 2024 – Muster Rolls and Water Modeling Files

The DOJ continues to act like a corporate defendant, fighting plaintiffs at every turn.  There are two battles over documents that have not found a resolution.

The first is the water modeling files at Camp Lejeune. These are the documents, data, and analyses related to the modeling of water movement and contamination within the base’s water supply system. These models are created to understand how toxic substances, identified in the water supply of Camp Lejeune between the 1950s and 1980s, migrated and dispersed throughout the water distribution network over time.

The second issue is muster rolls.  At Lejeune and every other military base, muster rolls at Camp Lejeune, as well as at other military bases, serve as official records documenting the attendance, absence, or different statuses of military personnel stationed there.

The government wants you to tell them the exact date the plaintiff was Lejeune. But that is not always or even usually in the military records.  The muster rolls solve that problem.  Just be transparent and produce these records

February 6, 2024 – No Camp Lejeune Jury Trials

We got our second bad ruling in the Camp Lejeune litigation today. This one is a big deal.

The court ruled that the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 (CLJA) does not provide plaintiffs the right to a jury trial for actions seeking relief under the Act. Despite the CLJA allowing individuals exposed to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune to bring actions in the Eastern District of North Carolina, the court determined that Congress did not depart from its usual practice of not permitting jury trials against the United States.

The judges believe that CLJA’s text and the principles of sovereign immunity guided the decision, as the Act did not explicitly, affirmatively, and unambiguously grant a right to a jury trial.

The problem for this argument that the second sentence of subsection 804(d) of the CLJA states that nothing shall impair the right to a jury trial.  Please explain to my why they would mention protecting the right to a jury trial if there cannot be a jury trial?

But the court ruled that this unambiguous provision does not to establish a new right to a jury trial but to ensure that the Act does not affect any existing right outside of its provisions.

How about an appeal? That will just slow the process for victims who do not want to wait.

The upside?  Faster trials will equal a faster path to a global settlement.  And I do think they judges are poised to award millions of dollars if the case warrants such a verdict.

February 3, 2024 – Track One Order

The court has issued an order setting out the steps and deadlines for the Track 1 Discovery Pool – bladder cancer, kidney cancer, leukemia, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and Parkinson’s disease.  The April trial date the court floated last month is out the window with this order, unfortunately,

Here’s a breakdown of what’s going to happen:

  1. Discovery Phase:
    • The plaintiffs have 45 days from the order to submit detailed information about their cases.
    • Both sides have 135 days to exchange all the facts and evidence related to these cases. After this fact-finding period, the plaintiffs and then the government will have set times to tell each other about their expert witnesses
  2. Motions Before Trial: Once all the information about expert witnesses is exchanged, there’s a 30-day period to file any motions that could decide the case without a trial.
  3. Planning for Settlement or Trial: The court plans to talk about settlement options through Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) and, most importantly for plaintiffs, plans for some of these cases to go to trial as example cases in 2024.
  4. Trial Details: Each judge involved will handle the specifics for the Lejeune suits they’re overseeing, and any unique decisions for a case will take priority over this general order. In order words, the judges is how we will do it… unless we change our minds.

This order organizes how the cases will proceed, focusing on gathering and sharing evidence, deciding on expert witnesses, and preparing for possible trials or settlements.

February 2, 2024 – ATSDR Study

The ATSDR study we have been talking about was finally released.  The study found that between 1975 and 1985, military personnel at Camp Lejeune were more likely to develop certain cancers compared to those stationed elsewhere. No surprise.

Let’s break down some of the study’s statistics, focusing on the increased incidence rates of certain cancers at Camp Lejeune compared to Camp Pendleton.

The study discusses “hazard ratios” (HRs) and “confidence intervals” (CIs). These indicate how much more likely people at Camp Lejeune were to develop certain cancers compared to those at Camp Pendleton and how confident the researchers are in these findings.

For example, if a hazard ratio (HR) is 1.38 for acute myeloid leukemia, it means that people at Camp Lejeune were 38% more likely to develop this type of cancer than people at Camp Pendleton. The 95% confidence interval” gives a range (like 1.03 to 1.85) that the true hazard ratio is likely to fall within. If this range doesn’t include 1, it suggests the finding is statistically significant – in other words, it’s unlikely to be due to chance.

Here’s what the increased rates looked like for specific cancers at Camp Lejeune:

  • Acute myeloid leukemia: 38% more likely
  • All myeloid cancers (including polycythemia vera): 24% more likely
  • Myelodysplastic and myeloproliferative syndromes: 68% more likely
  • Cancers of the esophagus: 27% more likely
  • Cancers of the larynx: 21% more likely
  • Soft tissue cancers: 21% more likely
  • Thyroid cancer: 22% more likely

For civilian workers at Camp Lejeune, the increased rates were:

  • All myeloid cancers: 40% more likely
  • Squamous cell lung cancer: 63% more likely
  • Female ductal breast cancer: 32% more likely

This means that both military personnel and civilian workers at Camp Lejeune had a higher chance of getting these cancers compared to those at Camp Pendleton, where the water was not contaminated. The percentages give an idea of how much higher the risk was.

We told you that more cancers will be in focus after the study. Certainly, this new information will lead to more thyroid cancer lawsuits from Lejeune which was not really on the radar for most Camp Lejeune lawyers.

What kind of cancers are now in play that might not have been before, at least with some Camp Lejeune lawyers?  There are five that come to mind:

  1. Colon cancer
  2. Laryngeal Cancer
  3. Lung Cancer
  4. Pharyngeal cancer
  5. Thyroid cancer

February 1, 2024 – Summary Judgment Motion

Judge Myers is giving the government until February 19, 2024, to respond to the plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment discussed in our January 26 and 30 updates below.

January 31, 2024 – Case Count Update

There are 1,492 Camp Lejeune lawsuits pending.  The administrative count is up to 164,136.

People were predicting over 500,000 claims.  Our lawyers projected 150,000 from the beginning.  Our revised prediction is there are less than 200,000 claims.  What we do not know is how many of these claims are viable. Certainly most claims but not all will be compensable.

January 30, 2024 – The Push to Trial

The government wants more time to respond to plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment. Attorneys for Camp Lejeune victims are challenging the government’s request.

Previously, the attorneys have agreed to extensions requested by the government on other deadlines.  But plaintiffs’ lawyers say we just cannot delay any longer.  Trials are coming soon – as early as April – and we have to get these cases ready for trial. So professional courtesies have to take a backseat.

January 26, 2024 – Waiting for ATSDR Report

The new ATSDR report is expected to be released soon, which could be a major development in this litigation.  One epidemiologist who reviewed the report describes it as “ground-breaking.”  We expect to see more “Tier 1” cancers after this report is released.

January 25, 2024 – First Camp Lejeune Trial

A North Carolina federal judge expressed the court is open to the first Camp Lejeune trial as early as April 2024.  The government is, as you would expect, pushing for more time.  The judge also expressed a willingness to try these cases back-to-back.  The judges are frustrated at the pace of settlement efforts.  An estimated 15% of plaintiffs qualify for the Elective Option.  I hope they’re also frustrated with the amount of the settlement offers, too.  Because those settlement amounts are not reasonable in these cases.

This puts pressure on the government to develop a better settlement play more quickly.

January 24, 2024 – Government Objects to Speed Up Plan

As predicted yesterday, the government objects to the plan to consolidate lawsuits.  It accuses attorneys for Camp Lejeune claimants of using Rule 16 as an excuse to circumvent CMO #2.

Substantively, the government opposes plaintiffs’ views on specific causation and the appropriateness of multi-plaintiff trials at this stage of the litigation. The government also finds the request for a factual directive on causation unprecedented and unfair. Moreover, it claims the proposed timeline for trials post-fact discovery conflicts with CMO #2, which allows 90 days for expert discovery.  The government also took this opportunity to complain about the attorneys’ fees issue, arguing that it is slowing up Camp Lejeune settlements.

In a rapid response – you do not typically see this in litigation of any kind – plaintiffs’ attorneys concede they did not consult with the DOJ before filing the statement. But they note there have been past discussions on these issues.  Plaintiffs say their proposed new case management procedures aim to expedite individual trials and achieve a global resolution. These proposals, made in the Rule 16 Statement we discussed yesterday, are designed to align with the intent of the Camp Lejeune Justice Act.

In other words, plaintiffs are saying, “Look at the big picture. We are doing what should be done to get this litigation where it needs to be.” This is a compelling argument.

January 23, 2024 – Speed Up Litigation Plan

Camp Lejeune attorneys asked the court yesterday to consolidate sixteen toxic water lawsuits based on disease type for trial. This efficient docket management approach would allow the Court to resolve all Track 1 cases with just five trials, reducing the burden on the Court’s calendar and expediting proceedings.

Plaintiffs also gave a length of trial estimate for each type of Track 1 claim:

Disease Number of Plaintiffs Estimated Trial Days
NHL 5 7
Bladder Cancer 6 6
Kidney Cancer 8 8
Parkinson’s Disease 5 7
Leukemia 5 5

Expect the government to push back hard on this request.  Consolidated cases will lead to more significant verdicts and more media attention, and the DOJ would rather lay as low as possible in this litigation.

January 22, 2024 – Court Rules on Track 1 Discovery Pool

So the court finally ruled in the Camp Lejeune lawyer squabble we discussed in our December 13th update.

The current issue arose from the Track 1 Discovery Pool, which includes bladder cancer, kidney cancer, leukemia, Parkinson’s disease, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.  One lawyer had initially opted out 56 of his clients from the Track 1 Discovery Pool via an email. Later, he sought to have these clients re-enter the pool, which led to the dispute. The backdrop was a battle between that lawyer and plaintiffs’ leadership, which involved a lot of acrimony, including the F-bomb dropped in an angry email.

The court ultimately sided with leadership,  finding that once the Opt-Out Option is exercised, plaintiffs are ineligible for the Track 1 Discovery Pool.

The motions invited the court to weigh in on the merits of the animosity between the warring parties. The court declined to do so. Instead, it decided the issue on the law – once you opt out of the pool, you are out.

January 21, 2024 – Push Forward

In many mass torts, the defendants delay, delay, delay, and the plaintiffs’ lawyers are silent co-conspirators, not holding defense attorneys’ feet to the fire to push the litigation forward to get victims the compensation they deserve.

That is not happening in the Camp Lejeune litigation. Attorneys for Lejeune victims are holding the government’s feet to the fire at every turn.  In the latest skirmish, plaintiffs’ lawyers are pushing back on the DOJ’s proposal to extend the Track 1 deadline for factual discovery by an additional 90 days.

The plaintiffs’ response points out that in establishing Case Management Order 2, the judges aimed for a swift and efficient discovery process, mainly to handle the expected influx of CLJA cases. Plaintiffs also point out that the necessity for such an extension has become irrelevant. For example, the government’s primary justification for seeking more time was the alleged extensive nature of the plaintiffs’ electronic data requests. However, the plaintiffs have since retracted these requests.

The faster this process moves forward, the longer it will take for the government to offer more global and reasonable Camp Lejeune settlement compensation.

January 18, 2024 – ATSDR Report… Finally

The government plans to release the 2023 ATSDR Cancer Incidence Study publicly this month. Attorneys for Camp Lejeune are retracting their appeal of the order denying the motion to compel this report.

We discuss this report more in the December 22 update below. It could be a good source of evidence for plaintiffs with Tier 2 and Tier 3 claims.

January 17, 2024 – Camp Lejeune Settlement Update

As of yesterday, the DOJ has identified thirty-seven cases in litigation that qualify for the Elective Option (EO) based on document verification.  The DOJ is also relying on the Navy and has made 52 more offers. All told, we have thirteen Camp Lejeune settlements out of 89 total offers.

Here is how that looks:

Injury Number Accepted Total Payments Average Settlement
Bladder Cancer 4 $750,000 $197,500
Kidney Cancer 1 $300,000 $300,000
Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma 1 $300,000 $300,000
Kidney Disease 1 $100,000 $100,000
Parkinson’s Disease 2 $650,000 $325,000
Multiple Myeloma 0 $0 $0
Leukemia 4 $1,050,000 $262,500
Total 13 $3,150,000 $242,308

The sample size is small. But we will keep an eye on these numbers as we move forward.

For context, the Navy has now settled 13 claims out of the 158,252 claims that have been brought.  So we are .008215% of the way to resolution.  Again, there has to be a path to speed up this process.

January 16, 2024 – Summary Judgment Sought

Camp Lejeune lawyers boldly filed a motion for summary judgment. on general causation in the Camp Lejeune litigation. This would mean that the plaintiff must only show they were on the base for 30 days and they have a condition that is as least as likely as not causally related to toxic water.

Attorneys who are not familiar with this litigation are rolling their eyes. But this toxic water litigation is not like other tort cases. Yes, under normal legal rules, someone suing because of toxic exposure has to prove they were exposed to the substance, that the substance can cause the injury, and that the substance, not something else, caused their specific injury.

The Camp Lejeune law, however, only requires showing that the water is likely to have caused the type of injury they have. This means people don’t have to prove that the water was the specific cause of their individual injury. That is a massive departure from traditional tort law. But it is the law of the litigation.

Plaintiffs’ attorneys argue Congress’ decision to simplify the burden of proof aligns with the text, structure, legislative context, and the statute’s intended purpose. It reflects Congress’s intent to create a distinct framework for causation under the CLJA, diverging from common law. This change is particularly relevant given the challenges in reconstructing exposure circumstances from events occurring decades ago.

Will plaintiffs win this motion? We will see. But lawyers for Camp Lejeune victims have put the government on its heels since Day 1, and we think that will lead to larger settlement amounts for Camp Lejeune victims when all is said and done.

January 13, 2024 – Track One Case Picked

A list of 100 toxic water contamination lawsuits was submitted to the court.  One of these cases will be the first Camp Lejeune suit to go to trial.

Again, the Track One cases are bladder cancer, kidney cancer, leukemia, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and Parkinson’s disease.

The way the government made its choice was a little goofy due to an unresolved dispute. Lawyers for Camp Lejeune victims asked the court to cancel some choices made by the government about who should be included in a particular group of cases called Track 1 Discovery Pool.

The government thinks it needs to resolve this disagreement and include all 100 cases in the Track One Discovery Pool before it can proceed with the Track One Order. Plaintiffs’ lawyers argue that the government didn’t follow the court’s rules when picking these cases. So, there’s a bit of a disagreement here on how to move forward that must be resolved.  But we have 100 names, 50 picked by each side, that are primed to be prepared for trial.

January 10, 2024 – Settlement Conference in Group of 40 Cases

On Wednesday, January 24, 2024, a hearing will occur in Raleigh. The Court will discuss the potential for reaching an intermediate settlement in 40 Camp Lejeune lawsuits.  Attorneys are advised to consult with their clients beforehand to assess and clarify their stance on settling the case.

Settlement talk is always good.  But we have over 100,000 cases.  We cannot settle these suits 40 at a time.

January 9, 2024 – DOJ Warns of Lejeune Fraud

It is awful that people would be so heartless as to victimize the victims. But that is where we are. The Justice Department and the Department of the Navy have issued a fraud alert regarding the Camp Lejeune Justice Act (CLJA) of 2022. This alert warns individuals about fraudulent attempts to obtain personal information or money from claimants. There have been reports of deceitful individuals and entities trying to extract personal details from CLJA claimants.

It is not too hard to steer clear of this nonsense if you are paying attention. Things you want to keep in mind:

  • The Justice Department and Navy will never ask for money from you.
  • If you have an attorney, refer all queries to them. If an attorney represents you, the Justice Department and Navy will communicate through your attorney.
  • Legitimate emails from the Navy come from CLClaims@us.navy.mil. You can forward suspicious emails to this address for verification.
  • If you receive a dubious phone call, request the caller’s name and position and then confirm with the CLCU at (757) 241-6020.

January 5, 2024 – Jury Trial Ruling on Deck

A significant point of contention is whether the Camp Lejeune claims should be tried before a jury. The government argues that the law, known as the PACT Act, which removed government immunity for these claims, does not explicitly grant claimants the right to seek jury trials. However, Plaintiffs’ attorneys assert that the law permits jury trials. This motion is still pending, and we should get a ruling soon.

January 4, 2024 – Only 15% of Claims Eligible for Early Settlement

Bloomberg has an interesting article today looks at preliminary Camp Lejeune data analyzed by SimplyConvert, a data management firm.

The takeaway is that over 85% of individuals seeking compensation for exposure to toxic water at Camp Lejeune might not qualify for the government’s early resolution payouts. This suggests that many of the claims filed could end up in court. This means many victims would die before receiving any payout.

The Navy’s early resolution program, also known as the “Elective Option,” was announced to expedite compensation for veterans by offering payouts between $100,000 and $550,000 to qualifying individuals based on their time at the base and illness. Despite this, more than 1,550 lawsuits have been filed, and the Justice Department’s attorneys have indicated that only a small number of claims currently meet the criteria for expedited payout. That defeats the whole purpose of the Elective Option.  The problem with the Elective Option is simply that not enough people qualify, and the settlement offers are too low.

Bloomberg quotes someone who says that the limited options for quick resolutions would primarily benefit plaintiffs’ lawyers, as most plaintiffs would have to undergo lengthy legal processes. What is unexplained is how on earth this would help plaintiffs’ lawyers.

January 3, 2024 – 1,400 Lejeune Civil Cases Filed

From February 11 to December 18, 2023, a total of 1,471 CLJA complaints have been filed in the Eastern District of North Carolina. Of these, 14 cases have been dismissed, including 11 voluntary dismissals and three pro se cases. The cases are divided among four judges: Judge Dever (363 cases), Judge Myers (379 cases), Judge Boyle (355 cases), and Judge Flanagan (374 cases).

There have also been six Camp Lejeune settlements.  The average payout in these settlements is nearly $250,000.  The breakdown of these payments includes $250,000 for a case of Parkinson’s Disease, $300,000 for a case of non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, two payments of $300,000 each and one payment of $150,000 for three cases of Leukemia, and $150,000 for a case of Bladder Cancer. The remaining two cases await payment processing through the Department of the Treasury’s Judgment Fund.

January 1, 2024 – Both Sides Submit Suggestions for Track 3 Cases

Last week, the Government and the Plaintiffs submitted their proposals for what cases/diseases should be included in the Track 3 trial cases. The government also submitted a motion seeking to amend the most recent Case Management Order to delay various deadlines further.

How Camp Lejeune Lawsuits Work

The CLJA gives individuals (or their survivors) who lived or worked at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days the right to file civil lawsuits in the Eastern District of North Carolina to seek damages for injuries allegedly caused by the contaminated water. Before filing their lawsuit, however, § (h) of the CLJA requires all claimants to go through a 6-month administrative claim process:

(h) Disposition By Federal Agency Required.- An individual may not bring an action under this section before complying with section 2675 of title 28, United States Code.

Before filing a Camp Lejeune toxic water lawsuit, a prospective plaintiff must submit their claim to the “appropriate federal agency.” Once a claim is submitted, the federal agency has a strict 6-month deadline to either accept or deny the claim. Claimants must wait until their claim is rejected or the 6-month deadline expires before filing their lawsuit in federal court.

This administrative claim process is a formality in most regular lawsuits against the Navy. Administrative claims are almost always denied, and the claimants move on to file suit. For Camp Lejeune claims under the CLJA, however, the process could be much different.

Under the CLJA, we believe that at the administrative claims process may be more like a pre-filing settlement mediation in which claimants who pass an initial screening process receive very reasonable settlement offers. We expect many claimants will accept settlement offers during the administrative claim process and never end up filing civil lawsuits.

Our lawyers expect the CLJA administrative claim process to play out this way for two reasons. First, Congress passed the CLJA to ensure that victims of the Lejeune water contamination could get financial compensation for valid injuries. Second, the Biden administration will ultimately be responsible for how this plays out. President Biden has made it clear that he strongly supports compensating deserving veterans.

Who Will the “Appropriate Federal Agency” Be for CLJA Claims?

Under the FTCA, administrative claims must be submitted to the “appropriate federal agency.” Camp Lejeune is not a Federal Tort Claims Act or Military Claims Act lawsuit, but there are similarities.

For Camp Lejeune water contamination claims under the CLJA, the appropriate federal agency will be the Department of the Navy (Navy). The Navy was the agency responsible for the USMC base at Camp Lejeune.

Although the Navy will be the federal agency named in the claim, they will most likely defer to the Department of Justice (DOJ) on handling these suits. The DOJ will take its direction on approaching the CLJA claims from the Biden Administration.

New Law to Allow Camp Lejeune Lawsuit

From 1953 to 1987, the public water supply at Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base in North Carolina was contaminated with toxic chemicals. So for 30 years, more than a million Marines and their families drank and bathed in contaminated water.

Thousands of Marines and their families have suffered severe illnesses and have died. There is strong scientific evidence that chronic exposure to toxic chemicals in Camp Lejeune’s water has caused increased rates of cancer and has caused injuries to children in utero.

Camp Lejeune Compensation Claims Originally Rejected

The provision follows the Supreme Court’s 7-2 decision in 2014 holding that North Carolina’s 10-year “statute of repose” overrides the federal Superfund law, effectively barring exposed individuals from suing once the statute expires, even if they didn’t become aware of pollution until a later date.

A new federal law – the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 – was enacted for victims of Camp Lejeune water contamination to seek legal compensation. The Act permits people who lived, worked, or were harmed as unborn children at Camp Lejeune between 1953 and 1987 to file a toxic water lawsuit in US District Court in Eastern North Carolina. There will likely be a two-year deadline to sue from the date of the enactment.

Victims may now be able to file a claim and get a Camp Lejeune settlement payout or jury award for the harm that has been done to them if they lived or worked near Camp Lejeune between 1953 and the late 1980s and were diagnosed with cancer or neurologic disorders.

This new Camp Lejeune lawsuit is a “sort of” class action lawsuit in North Carolina. Why “sort of”?  The new law would require all cases to be housed in North Carolina, even if the victims now live in California, Texas, New York, or any other state and the case will have many features of a class action lawsuit without technically being class action.

If you want compensation for the harm done at Camp Lejeune, contact our lawyers and tell us about your claim today.

Water Contamination at Camp Lejeune

Camp Lejeune is a massive Marine Corps base and military training facility that covers nearly 250 square miles in Onslow County, North Carolina. Camp Lejeune was first opened in 1942. It is used as a base of operations for the Marine Corps and a military operations and training facility used by various branches of the armed forces.

Since its founding in 1942, Camp Lejeune has been a temporary or permanent home for thousands of military service members and their families.

It has also been a home or place of work for thousands more civilian employees and contractors. Camp Lejeune had its own public water system to supply these Marines and civilians with potable water.

In the 1980s, environmental testing at Camp Lejeune discovered that the water supply for its residents and employees was dangerously contaminated.

Toxic Chemicals in Water

Specifically, the Marine Corps determined that from approximately 1953 through 1987, the water supply to Camp Lejeune had been heavily contaminated with volatile organic compounds and carcinogenic chemicals. The most troubling chemicals found were trichloroethylene (TCE) and tetrachloroethylene (PCE).

These chemicals are in a class of chemicals called “volatile organic compounds” (VOCs). These chemicals are used for dry cleaning, and much of the water contamination was attributed to an off-base dry cleaner that existed before the Marine base was opened. So the water wells were likely contaminated before Camp Lejeune opened.

However, this toxic water came from multiple sources. The same chemicals are also used to clean machinery and weapons, so the contamination came from on and off the Marine base.

Core Issue in Every Camp Lejeune Lawsuit

Every Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuit will allege that the water supply at Camp Lejeune was contaminated between the 1960s and 1980s. The lawsuit will also claim that the United States negligently caused injury or death by allowing contaminants into the Camp Lejeune water supply and not warning people when they should know these water issues could cause awful side effects that included death.

Camp Lejeune Lawsuit Timeline

Let’s walk through the chronology of events that led to the Camp Lejeune Justice Act and the expected Camp Lejeune class action lawsuit.

1941: Camp Lejeune becomes a Marine Corps military base.

1951: Camp Lejeune builds the Tarawa Terrace well field for water.

1953: One Hour Dry Cleaner begins operation across the street from the well field. Investigations later show that this dry cleaner allowed tons of toxic chemicals – notably PCE – to contaminate the water at Camp Lejeune. Much of the contamination from this dry cleaner came from the Tarawa Terrace drinking water system.

1979: A reported 20,000 to 30,000 gallons of oil leaks in the ground from the Hadnot Point Fuel Farm.

1984: An outside contractor finds TCE, PCE, and benzene at the Hadnot Point Water Well.

1985: All contaminated Hadnot Point wells that had not already been closed are shut down

1989: The EPA identifies Camp Lejeune and ABC One Hour Cleaners as Superfund sites.

1990: The CDC declares PCP is the most significant cause of injury, death, and congenital disabilities from Camp Lejeune.

2008: President Bush signed a bill requiring the Navy to investigate injuries and deaths from contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune.

12-12-2016: Over 800 Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuits filed under the Federal Tort Claims Act and consolidated into an MDL are dismissed based on North Carolina’s 10-year statute of repose.

9-20-2018: Appeals for dismissal of the Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuits are exhausted, leaving thousands of victims without legal recourse.

3-22-2021: The Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2021 is introduced as a bill in the US House of Representatives. The bill is eventually sent to the committee and goes nowhere.

1-25-2022: A new bill called the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 (CLJA) is introduced in the House by Congressmen Matt Cartwright (D. North Carolina) along with 16 co-sponsors. The co-sponsors include 10 Democrats and 6 Republicans from 8 different states.

2-28-2022: The CLJA is combined into a larger bill called the Honoring Our Pact Act of 2021, which addresses health care benefits, and other resources for veterans exposed to toxic substances during military service.

3-3-2022: The House passes the CLJA (as part of the Honoring Our Pact Act) by a vote of 256 to 174, and the bill is submitted to the Senate.

5-17-2022: Prominent Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida issues a press release publicly announcing his strong support for the CLJA and urging his fellow Senators to vote on passing the CLJA as part of the Honoring Our Pact Act.

6-16-2022: Senate passes an amended version of the CLJA as part of the PACT Act by a vote of 84-14. The amendments to the bill require approval by the House.

What Toxic Chemicals Were in the Camp Lejeune Water Supply?

Two specific chemical compounds contaminated the water supply at Camp Lejeune from 1953 to 1987, and they came from two specific water treatment facilities servicing the base: Perchloroethylene (PCE) and Trichloroethylene (TCE).

PCE Caused the Greatest Harm

PCE was the most significant cause of the water contamination and the injuries and deaths that followed at Camp Lejeune. PCE is a clear liquid chemical used in dry cleaning to clean fabrics.

PCE is absorbed following oral, inhalation, and dermal exposures. It travels through the bloodstream to the lungs. PCE targets the central nervous system, liver, and kidneys and accumulates in fat cells. Tetrachloroethylene also crosses the placenta and distributes it to the fetus, which is why there were so many birth defects at Camp Lejeune.

PCE Related Injuries

The evidence is strong that PCE can cause various disorders, including liver and kidney injuries, kidney cancer, bladder cancer, multiple myeloma, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Learn more about Camp Lejeune diseases.

PCE Levels at Tarawa Terrance Water Treatment Were Off the Charts

For 346 months, the Tarawa Terrance water treatment and supply facility at Camp Lejeune was contaminated with dangerously high levels of PCE. The source of the contamination was identified as a nearby dry cleaning company. The EPA’s maximum safe level for PCE in drinking water is five ug/L. The peak level of TCE contamination in 1985 in the Camp Lejeune water supply was 215 ug/L.

Digest that number. That is 43 times – 43 times! – the safe level for TCE. It is a wonder there were not more Camp Lejeune water contamination deaths and injuries than have been reported.

Trichloroethylene (TCE) at Hadnot Point Water Treatment Facility

TCE is an industrial chemical that is used in the manufacturing of refrigerants and other hydrofluorocarbons. It is a harmful chemical that has long been known to be unfit for human consumption. TCE has been used as a solvent and fumigant to kill insects.

The body absorbs trichloroethylene most from inhalation and through oral and dermal exposure. The bloodstream pushes this chemical to major organs that receive blood and deposit it in fat cells. The body metabolizes TCE mainly in the liver, kidneys, and lungs.   Humans extensively metabolize inhaled doses of trichloroethylene. Metabolites may play a role in the adverse health effects described in studies.

TCE was also commonly used as a solvent and degreaser on metal military equipment. The Hadnot Point water treatment facility servicing Camp Lejeune was found to be highly contaminated with TCE. The contamination is believed to have come from numerous sources. EPA’s maximum safe level for TCE in potable water is five ppb. The Camp Lejeune water supply was contaminated with TCE as high as 1,400 ppb.

Heart Defects at Birth from TCE

With newborn children, congenital heart defects are common in mothers who drank and bathed in the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune. Studies strongly suggest a link between a mother’s exposure to TCE during pregnancy and congenital heart defects.

Other Toxic Chemicals in the Camp’s Well Water

Mercury

In 2012, the Hadnot Point water facility was also contaminated with mercury. Mercury may have come from water pressure meters at the facility that was removed in the 1980s.

Vinyl Chloride and Benzene

These were not the only toxic chemicals found on the base. Vinyl chloride and ne, poisonous chemicals that can cause many of these same injuries alone, were also found on the base. The fact that these toxic chemicals in the water supply are treated as a footnote underscores the remarkable stew of tragic mistakes that caused harm to so many Marines and their families. This is why Congress is stepping in with the Camp Lejeune Justice Act (our attorneys discuss this further below).

Everyone Agrees the Water at Camp Lejeune Was Contaminated

The government will unlikely dispute these facts in a Camp Lejeune lawsuit. In 1989, the EPA placed Camp Lejeune on the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (“CERCLA”) National Priorities List for environmental cleanup activities. You may have also heard it is called a “Superfund” site.   A Superfund is a euphemism for toxic mess. The US Navy agreed to work with the EPA in environmental remediation efforts that continue to this day.

Chemicals in Camp Lejeune Water-Linked to Cancer

The industrial chemicals that were contaminating the Camp Lejeune water supply are known to be very toxic to the human body and have been linked to cancer, birth defects, and neurologic disorders. Scientific and medical evidence has shown that chronic exposure to the chemicals TCE and PCE can cause increased rates of certain types of cancer.

The types of cancer that have been scientifically linked to the consumption of harmful chemicals contaminating the water at Camp Lejeune include:

Exposure to these chemicals has also been linked to other health conditions, including aplastic anemia (and other myelodysplastic syndromes) and neurologic disorders such as Parkinson’s disease.

Non-Cancer Camp Lejeune Injuries

The science and medical evidence continues to build links to other injuries besides cancer. They include:

Contaminated Water at Camp Lejeune Caused Birth Defects

Birth defects are one of the big tragedies of Camp Lejeune. Over the years, thousands of pregnant women were exposed to toxic water at Camp Lejeune. In 2013, the CDC released a study that confirmed that children born to mothers who lived on Camp Lejeune or drank the water supply had four times the rate of birth defects such as spina bifida.

The CDC also indicated that children exposed to the contaminated Camp Lejeune water during fetal gestation had an increased risk of developing childhood cancers like leukemia. These same children may also have a higher risk of adult cancer.

What Caused the Water Contamination at Camp Lejeune?

Again, PCE is the contaminant that caused the most harm at the Marine Corps base in Camp Lejeune. We later found out that the chemical was used by a nearby dry cleaner as early as 1953. Tragically, this was compounded by on-base sources that further contaminated the water supply.

Camp Lejeune Victims May Soon Be Able to Get Compensation

The water contamination at Camp Lejeune has negatively impacted the lives of hundreds of thousands of people who lived or worked at the base over the years. Many people have developed cancer, died, and suffered other diseases.

So far, most of the Camp Lejeune water contamination victims have never been able to get justice or compensation. North Carolina (where the base is located) has a law known as a “statute of repose,” which puts a maximum year limit on how long someone can wait before filing a civil lawsuit, even if they could never have known that the water issues caused injuries until after the deadline to sue had already passed.

Victims Could Not Bring a Camp Lejeune Lawsuit Under the Old Law

Under North Carolina’s statute of repose, no civil tort lawsuit can be filed after more than ten years. This law has effectively blocked Camp Lejeune victims from bringing lawsuits seeking financial compensation. In 2016, multi-district litigation involving 850 former Camp Lejeune residents (Straw v. the United States) was dismissed based on the North Carolina repose statute.

In 2012, the Janey Ensminger Act was passed, which authorized the US government to pay for medical care costs to family members harmed by the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune.

The Ensminger Act had limitations. It was basically disability benefits. Worse, Marines’ families were excluded.

Many in Congress think Marines and their families should not be limited to VA benefits. That thinking led to the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022.

New Legislation Allows Camp Lejeune Lawsuits

Many Lejeune victims are on disability. But everyone knows that disability compensation does not replace a reasonable settlement amount. Providing health care benefits to Marines is not enough. Everyone also knows we must stand behind the United States Marine Corps, which has stood by us.

Congress passed a new federal law called the Camp Lejeune Justice Act (“CLJA”) of 2022. The CLJA circumvents the North Carolina response statute and gives Camp Lejeune victims the right to bring a contaminated water lawsuit in federal court for cancer or other disorders caused by contaminated water.

Under the new law, anyone exposed to Camp Lejeune water for 30 days between 1953 and 1987 can file suit and fight for a Camp Lejeune payout in the Eastern District of North Carolina. This is not a class action lawsuit. Each case stands alone.

Who Is Being Sued in Camp Lejeune Lawsuit?

The defendant being sued in the Camp Lejeune lawsuit is the United States federal government.

Camp Lejeune Settlement Amounts

It is too soon to project Camp Lejeune settlement amounts. But the settlement compensation for Camp Lejeune injuries will be based on the extent of the victims’ injuries and your drinking water contamination lawyer’s ability to tie the injuries or death to the toxic water. There are so many types of injuries from this toxic drinking water. You can expect Camp Lejeune per person settlement payouts to be tailored to victims’ injuries.

Settlement Amount Projections By Type of Camp Lejeune Claim

That is a big gap in the settlement ranges above, right? There is no question that settlement amount will vary based on the type of claim. Our lawyers have made Camp Lejeune compensation payout projections for specific types of Camp Lejeune claims:

Bladder Cancer Parkinson’s Disease
Kidney Cancer Liver Cancer
Lung Cancer Esophageal Cancer
Birth Defects Aplastic Anemia
Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Prostate Cancer
Leukemia Breast Cancer
Multiple Myeloma Colorectal Cancer
Miscarriage Brain Cancer
Aplastic Anemia ALS
Myelodysplastic Syndrome Thyroid Cancer
Soft Tissue Cancer Cervical Cancer

Cancer and Parkinson’s Disease Settlement Amounts

You can expect the largest Camp Lejeune settlement amounts to go to cancer victims, their families, and Parkinson’s disease lawsuits. The average individual settlement for Parkinson’s disease cases could reach between $1 million and $1.5 million.

So we won’t have a situation where everyone gets the same settlement compensation payout. Instead, there is likely to be complex points award system per person that compensates victims based on a laundry list of facts that should provide more excellent settlement amounts to victims who have suffered the most.

Our Lawyers Will Narrow Settlement Compensation Projections

Granted, this is a broad range of settlement amounts, and there will likely be Camp Lejeune settlement payouts that are higher and lower than this range. But it is still early in the litigation. Our Camp Lejeune attorneys will know more as the litigation progresses. Our lawyers will update and narrow our Camp Lejeune settlement amount as we go.

$22 Billion Allotted to Camp Lejeune Settlements

Unlike most class action lawsuits, the decision as to the settlement amounts to compensate victims will involve politics and policy instead of projected jury compensation payouts. One looking glass to the ultimate settlement: the government has allocated $22 billion to pay Camp Lejeune settlement amounts and jury payouts. This final settlement number could go up or down. So it is a bit of an artificial number. But it is a strong anchor for the Justice Department when it starts offering settlement amounts to Camp Lejeune victims.

So you can do some back-of-the-napkin math to calculate average settlement compensation payouts. But the critical question is how many Lejeune class action claims will be filed. For example, if there are 110,000 claims accepted, that would be an average per-person Camp Lejeune settlement amount of $200,000.  In early 2024, the last count was 164,000 claims.  But how many of those are viable claims?  We are probably back to that 110,000 estimate.

Political Pressure to Raise Camp Lejeune Lawsuit Payouts

The low range of the average Camp Lejeune lawsuit payout our attorneys projected above was $150,000. The question: is this what Congress intends? The politics of compensating veterans for the harm done to them probably does not jive with an average Camp Lejeune lawsuit settlement amount of $150,000. This is why the likely average per person Lejeune claim will probably be more than double that amount of money.

Type of Camp Lejeune Lawsuits Are Lawyers Are Seeing

What are the most common Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuits?

This is a list of our law firm’s Camp Lejeune lawsuits, ranked by the number of cases we have for each injury or sickness.

  1. Parkinson’s Disease
  2. Lung Cancer
  3. Kidney Cancer
  4. Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
  5. Bladder Cancer
  6. Prostate Cancer
  7. Leukemia
  8. Breast Cancer
  9. Liver Cancer
  10. Hepatic Steatosis
  11. Multiple Myeloma
  12. Colorectal Cancer
  13. Other Cancer
  14. Neurobehavioral
  15. Miscarriage
  16. Infertility
  17. Brain Cancer
  18. End State Renal Disease
  19. Renal Toxicity
  20. Birth Defects
  21. Aplastic Anemia
  22. ALS
  23. Myelodysplastic Syndrome
  24. Soft Tissue Cancer
  25. Thyroid Cancer
  26. Cervical Cancer
  27. Hodgkin’s Disease
  28. Cardiac Defects

Who Will be Eligible to Bring a Camp Lejeune Lawsuit?

When Congress eventually passes the Camp Lejeune Justice Act (CLJA), it will give thousands of former Lejeune residents, employees, and soldiers a legal right to bring a civil lawsuit against the federal government for injuries caused by the Camp Lejeune water contamination. So exactly who will be eligible to file a Camp Lejeune lawsuit under the CLJA?

Broad Language in Camp Lejeune Justice Act

The eligibility requirements are set forth in § 804(b) of the CLJA:

An individual, including a veteran, . . . or the legal representative of such an individual, who resided, worked, or was otherwise exposed (including in utero 22 exposure) for not less than 30 days during the period beginning on August 1, 1953, and ending on December 31, 1987, to water at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

This language says that anyone who can prove that they were exposed to the water at Camp Lejeune for at least one month during the contamination period (i.e., 1953 to 1987) will be eligible to file a claim under the CLJA. Below is a breakdown of each part of the eligibility requirements under the CLJA.

Subsection (A):  Individual, Veteran, or Legal Representative

CLJA § 804(b) states those eligible to bring a case under the CLJA will include “[a]n individual, including a veteran, … or the legal representative of such an individual[.]” This language is intended to include anyone and everyone who lived, worked, or was stationed at Camp Lejeune during the relevant period

This group of eligible plaintiffs under the CLJA includes:

⦁ Marines (or other military personnel) who were stationed at Lejeune
⦁ Family members of Marines who lived in on-base housing at Camp Lejeune
⦁ Marines who worked or were assigned to Camp Lejeune
⦁ Civilian employees who worked at or near Camp Lejeune
⦁ Anyone else who was exposed to the Lejeune water

If the person who lived or worked at Camp Lejeune has passed away, their surviving family members or “legal representative” will be eligible to bring a wrongful death claim.

Subsection (B):  Resided, Worked, or Otherwise Exposed (Including In Utero)

The language § 804(b) of the CLJA says that eligibility extends to anyone who can prove that they lived or worked at Camp Lejeune. Individuals who lived at Camp Lejeune would mostly be limited to Marines stationed at the base and their families who lived in the on-base housing. Employees at Camp Lejeune could include both can employees, government contractors, and military personnel who worked at the base but did not live there.

The language “including in utero” is intended to extend eligibility to individuals who suffered prenatal exposure to the water at Camp Lejeune while still developing fetuses inside their mother’s womb. Public health studies have estimated that 20,000 to 30,000 pregnant women lived at Camp Lejeune for at least one month during the contamination period. These studies have also shown that prenatal exposure to Lejeune toxic water caused higher birth defect rates. Individuals with congenital disabilities after in utero exposure to the Lejeune water will be eligible to file claims under the CLJA.

The phrase “or was otherwise exposed” in subsection (b) is intended to be a catch-all term to include anyone who may not have lived or worked at Lejeune but can show that they were exposed to the contaminated water.

Subsection (C): For Not Less Than 30 Days

The final eligibility requirement under CLJA is that the individual’s connection to Camp Lejeune (either as a resident, employee, or otherwise) lasted for 30 days. In addition, that 30-day period of living or working at Camp Lejeune had to have occurred during the recognized “contamination period”: August 1, 1953, to December 31, 1987.

Proving Eligibility for a Camp Lejeune Lawsuit

To get a Camp Lejeune settlement payout under the CLJA, prospective plaintiffs will need to be able to produce some documentary evidence to prove that they lived or worked at Camp Lejeune for 30 days during the relevant period.

Marines and other military personnel will need to provide their military service records to prove they were at Camp Lejeune. Family members of Marines stationed at Camp Lejeune can use the same military service records to establish their residence on the base. Civilians seeking compensation can prove that they worked at Camp Lejeune by producing social security employment history records or other types of employment verification.

Prospective plaintiffs who cannot present some documentation to verify their connection to Camp Lejeune can still pursue a claim. Still, they will have difficulty establishing their eligibility without support documents. But your Camp Lejeune lawyer will work to track down these records for you.

How Many Camp Lejeune Settlements Have Their Been So Far?

So far, as of January 2024, three people have accepted settlements for their injuries from the toxic water at Lejeune, totaling $3,150,000. There are many more to come.

Can You Bring a Claim for Someone at Camp Lejeune Who Died Many Years Ago?

Yes, you are eligible to bring a Camp Lejeune wrongful death claim for someone who died many years ago. Many people are confused by this. But it is precisely how a wrongful death lawsuit works. This unique Camp Lejeune law just increases eligibility for claims that the statute of limitations would usually bar.

How Do You File a Camp Lejeune Toxic Water Lawsuit Under the Federal Tort Claims Act?

Camp Lejeune lawyers will first file an administrative claim with the Department of the Navy as federal law requires. See 28 USC sec. 2675.

The government has six months to accept or reject the claim (or ignore it). Procedurally, the government would deny the claim. Your Camp Lejeune lawyer may then file suit in federal court in North Carolina.

Details of the New Federal Law Allowing Camp Lejeune Victims the Right to Sue

A new federal law passed by Congress will give the Camp Lejeune water contamination victims the legal right to bring civil lawsuits and seek financial compensation for their injuries. The new law is the Camp Lejeune Justice Act (CLJA), which was incorporated into a larger bill known as the Honoring Our Pact Act.

Our lawyers have carefully reviewed the language of the CLJA, and in this section, we will provide a summary of the CLJA. We will also explain the details and procedures for how the CLJA will work, such as (a) who will be eligible to file suit, (b) what the deadline will be, (c) what victims can sue for, and (d) what are the qualifying criteria for getting a settlement payout.

Who Can File a Camp Lejeune Lawsuit?

The opening section of the CLJA defines the group of people that will now be entitled to seek a settlement payout or compensation from a jury via a Camp Lejeune civil lawsuit. This group includes:

(a) Anyone (including veterans and their families) who lived at Camp Lejeune for a minimum of 1 month between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987.
(b) Anyone who worked at Camp Lejeune (including civilian contractors) for a minimum of 1 month between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987.
(c) Anyone who was “otherwise exposed” to the drinking water at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987.

Anyone who meets these basic criteria will be covered by the CLJA provisions which give them the right to file a civil lawsuit. Keep in mind that you will need to be able to prove that you meet these “residency” criteria with some evidence, preferably documentary evidence.

Veterans and their families should be able to produce military service records to prove that they were stationed at Lejeune for the required period. Civilian contractors and non-military personnel use other documents to demonstrate that they meet these criteria, such as social security employment records.

What Can Camp Lejeune Victims Sue For?

Individuals who can prove that they lived or worked at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days between 1953 and 1987 will meet the initial eligibility criteria under the CLJA. These individuals will then have the right to file a tort lawsuit seeking a verdict or settlement payout against the United States government, alleging that they suffered physical harm or injuries caused or associated with exposure to the water at Camp Lejeune. Lawsuits not related to alleged exposure to the toxic water at Lejeune or not involving physical injuries will not be permitted.

What Will Lejeune Victims Have to Prove to Get a Settlement Payout or Verdict?

Individuals who meet the qualifying criteria under the CLJA (i.e., lived or worked at Lejeune for 30 days during the applicable period) will NOT automatically qualify for settlement compensation.

Rather, these individuals will have the right to file a lawsuit for their alleged injuries. To get financial compensation, plaintiffs who file lawsuits under the CLJA will still need to prove that the contaminated water caused their injuries at Lejeune.

The CLJA establishes a lower burden of proof, making it easier for plaintiffs who bring Camp Lejeune water lawsuits under the CLJA to prove their case. Specifically, section (b)(2) of the CLJA provides that Lejeune plaintiffs can satisfy their burden of proof with a scientific study concluding that their alleged injury (i.e., kidney cancer, etc.) could be linked to exposure to the water at Camp Lejeune:

Use of Studies – A study conducted on humans or animals, or from an epidemiological study that ruled out chance and bias with reasonable confidence and which concluded, with sufficient evidence, that exposure to the water described in subsection (a) is one possible cause of the harm, shall be sufficient to satisfy the burden of proof described under paragraph (1).

This provision suggests that plaintiffs under CLJA will be allowed to prove their claims if they can cite a single study suggesting a link between their type of cancer (or other injuries) and the Lejeune water. This would eliminate the requirement of expert witness testimony, although it is not entirely clear who to interpret this provision.

How to File A Camp Lejeune Lawsuit

Potential plaintiffs who meet the qualifying criteria under the CLJA can file their civil lawsuit by contacting an attorney. Our law office provides legal assistance to victims file a Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuit. Our Camp Lejeune lawyers offer a free consultation, and we answer the question for free. We want to help.

CLJA claimants will be required to file civil lawsuits in the US District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina. This is the only available venue because the CLJA gives the Eastern District of North Carolina exclusive jurisdiction over the Lejeune water lawsuits.

Camp Lejeune Claim Must First Be Filed Before Lawsuit

Section (g) of the CLJA clarifies that before any eligible plaintiff can file a civil lawsuit, they must comply with 28 USC § 2675. This means that plaintiffs will must first file with the “appropriate federal agency” and have that claim denied before they can bring a civil suit. When toxic water claims are submitted, federal agencies must approve or reject them within six months.

The appropriate federal agency for a Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuit will be the Department of Defense. In most situations, filing this sort of claim with a federal agency is just a formality that plaintiffs go through before filing their lawsuit.

For Camp Lejeune lawsuits, however, the DOD may offer settlement amounts to resolve what appear to be legitimate claims. That would make sense, considering Congress in passing this law because they want deserving victims to get a settlement payout. Otherwise, what is the point of all of this? This would offer a much faster route for victims to get financial compensation.

Deadlines for Filing a Claim Under CLJA

Section (j) of the CLJA creates a special statute of limitations deadline for Camp Lejeune victims who want to bring claims under the CLJA. Under § (j)(1), the general statute of limitations to file suit for claims by Lejeune victims was initially two years after the date on which “the harm occurred or was discovered.” The final version President Biden signed had a hard two-year deadline from August 10, 2022, to bring a claim.

So victims who have developed cancer, suffered birth defects, or been diagnosed with another condition possibly related to the Lejeune water will need to file their claims within two-year deadline.

How Camp Lejeune Wrongful Death Claims Work?

The newly enacted CLJA allows tort claims to be brought on behalf of former Camp Lejeune residents or employees who are now deceased because of injuries related to the water contamination.

Exposure to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune occurred in North Carolina so these cases would involve wrongful death and survival claims under North Carolina law. In this section, our Camp Lejeune attorneys provide a brief overview of death claims in North Carolina.

North Carolina Wrongful Death Claims

North Carolina law allows two types of tort claims that can be filed on behalf of someone after their death: (1) wrongful death claims; and (2) a survival action. Both causes of action are created by statute.

North Carolina Gen. Stat. § 28A-18-2 allows the estate of a deceased person to bring a wrongful death claim against any person who negligently or intentionally caused the decedent’s death.

Only Personal Representative Can Bring Camp Lejeune Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Unlike other states which allow wrongful death claims to be brought by any close family member of the decedent, North Carolina only permits the personal representative of the decedent’s estate to bring suit If the wrongful death claim is successful, the settlement proceeds or damages are distributed to the decedent’s heirs (not just the personal representative).

Camp Lejeune Wrongful Death Damages

In a North Carolina wrongful death claim, damages can be awarded for:

  1. medical expenses
  2. pain & suffering of the decedent
  3. loss of the decedent’s income, personal services and companionship, and
  4. funeral expenses

Camp Lejeune Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are only allowed if the death was the result of “malice or willful, wanton conduct.”
In addition to a wrongful death claim, the personal representative of a decedent’s estate can also bring a separate survivorship claim under North Carolina Gen. Stat. § 28A-18-1.

Camp Lejeune Survival Actions

The survival claim can recover for pre-death injuries that are separate and distinct from the wrongful death claim. Just like wrongful death cases, North Carolina law only allows the personal representative of the decedent’s estate to bring survival claims.

Rules of Camp Lejeune Wrongful Death Claims

Under the newly passed CLJA, wrongful death claims can be brought by the estate of any former residents or employees of Camp Lejeune who died because of injuries related to their exposure to the contaminated water.

Personal representatives could also bring survival claims under the CLJA, although they would have to show that this claim seeks pre-death damages based on separate and distinct actions.

Contact Our Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawyers

Our lawyers believe that this new law was passed because Congress wants Camp Lejeune water contamination victims to receive fair settlement amounts for the harm done while they or a family member was serving our country.

Our Camp Lejeune lawyers are offering legal assistance to individuals who were harmed by exposure to Camp Lejeune water using the following criteria:

  • You served, lived, or worked at the Camp Lejeune Marine Corps base in North Carolina for at least 30 days between the years 1953 and 1987.
  • You were subsequently diagnosed with leukemia, bladder cancer, kidney cancer, liver cancer, multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, or any other conditions our lawyers laid out above.

Contact our Camp Lejeune attorneys today for a free consultation at 800-553-8082 or get a free no-obligation online consultation. Our attorneys only get paid if you do.

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