Camp Lejeune lawyers have joined with the government’s attorneys to file a joint memorandum requesting coordination or partial consolidation and the issuance of an initial case management order for all Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 lawsuits. If this motion is granted, there will technically not be a Camp Lejuene class action lawsuit. But consolidation would bring many of the features of a class action lawsuit.
Background to Motion to Consolidate Camp Lejeune Lawsuits
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act (CLJA), enacted on August 10, 2022, has led to lawsuits filed by individuals exposed to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987. The Act, part of the Honoring Our PACT Act, allows individuals, including veterans, to seek relief for harm caused by exposure to contaminated water even though the statute of limitations on these claims has already passed.
According to reports, approximately 5,000 claims were filed by September 2022, 6,000 by October 2022, and 20,000 by February 2023. None of these administrative claims had been fully adjudicated. However, by February 27, 2023, 158 CLJA claims had been filed in court, increasing to 179 by March 6, 2023, surpassing 200.
Plaintiffs in the case include current or former U.S. Marine service members or individuals who claim they were exposed to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune. They allege various illnesses, including leukemia, bladder cancer, kidney cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and kidney disease, were caused by exposure to the toxic water.
This is not the first effort at a “sort of” Camp Lejeune class action lawsuit. In September 2022, a North Carolina court declined a motion to consolidate the Camp Lejeune lawsuits. But that motion concerned claims submitted too early (in the court’s estimation, anyway) before completing the mandatory administrative remedies stipulated by the Act. When that motion was denied, our lawyers pointed out that we do not need a Camp Lejuene class action lawsuit, but some consolidation would be necessary to get to water contamination settlements for victims.
As tens of thousands of individuals may become eligible to file claims under the CLJA in the coming weeks and months, the parties argue that these proceedings are suitable for coordination or partial consolidation. They highlight that the litigation will involve common, overlapping, or related issues of fact or law. The coordination or consolidation of cases would generate efficiencies for both the parties and the court.
The parties request an initial case management order to preliminarily coordinate these proceedings and seek proposals for further organization and progression. They have filed identical motions in cases pending before each judge in the District, suggesting that coordination would allow the Court flexibility in managing discovery and providing consistent legal rulings for claims brought under the new statute.
Moreover, the parties have proposed that docket management matters be coordinated or consolidated. They have requested the creation of a master docket for filings pertaining to all actions in this litigation, which would save time and expense. Given the potential for hundreds or thousands of plaintiffs to file claims, the court may consider using a census or registry process to manage mass claims and select bellwether cases for more extensive discovery and trial.
The Goal of Camp Lejeune Settlements
Lawyers for Camp Lejuene plaintiffs are looking creatively at what are sure to be alternative dispute resolution methods to find a path for settlement payouts for victims. This includes discussions with the Department of Justice to develop creative and innovative methods for resolving these claims without replacing litigation as an option.
Coordination of discovery facilities settlement. The parties point out in their motion that similar coordination was done effectively in other large-scale cases, such as the In re: NC Swine Farm Nuisance Litigation, which involved approximately 500 individual plaintiffs grouped into 26 lawsuits. This approach helped avoid submitting a single defendant to multiple fronts of incoming discovery from multiple claimants without chaos. So the parties argue that adopting a coordinated or consolidated approach in the Camp Lejeune case could help to conserve the resources of the court and the parties alike while reducing the burden encountered by the single defendant in litigating these claims.
What a “Camp Lejeune Class Action Lawsuit” Means to You
People who suffer serious injuries or are bringing a class action lawsuit often have an allergic reaction to being in a class action. They equate a class action lawsuit to a consumer class action with inadequate compensation. In many class action lawsuits, the individual compensation for each member may be small, mainly when the settlement is divided among many plaintiffs. Class action suits are also associated with a long path to settlement. The process of certifying a class and reaching a settlement or verdict can be lengthy and complex, sometimes taking years to resolve. This can delay the case’s resolution and prolong the plaintiffs’ suffering.
These concerns should not apply here. First, the Camp Lejeune class action lawsuit will not be, under any scenario, a traditional class action. The focus is on full or partial consolidation of the lawsuits. Everyone maintains their claims and all of the nuances of those claims. But the reality is that the administration of Camp Lejeune lawsuits and administrative claims will be a circus without some order in the process. That order is more likely to make Camp Lejeune settlements happen sooner rather than later. This is the goal of everyone involved, including the government.
Contact Our Camp Lejeune Attorneys for Your Claim
We believe Congress wants Camp Lejeune water contamination victims to receive fair settlement amounts for their suffering. Our Camp Lejeune lawyers are offering legal assistance to individuals who were harmed by exposure to Camp Lejeune water using the following criteria:
- Active duty, reserve, and National Guard members who served at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 cumulative days between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987, or family members of veterans who lived at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 cumulative days during the same period.
- You were subsequently diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, liver cancer, esophageal cancer, lung cancer, bladder cancer, kidney cancer, breast cancer, leukemia, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and many other illnesses.
Contact our Camp Lejeune lawyers today for a free consultation at 800-553-8082 or get a free no-obligation online consultation. Our attorneys only get paid if we get settlement compensation or a jury payout for you.