Kidney cancer and kidney disease may have the strongest link to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune than any other disease or injury. Camp Lejeune kidney cancer lawsuits will be very strong claims in a courtroom.
But few of these Camp Lejeune kidney cancer lawsuits will ever go to trial. Our attorneys expect the government will offer reasonable settlement amounts to settle these claims out of court. Some may settle during the six-month administrative window required before filing a Camp Lejeune cancer lawsuit.
Why do we think settlement amounts will be offered in kidney cancer Camp Lejeune lawsuits? The link between TCE, a ubiquitous toxin in the water at Lejeune, and kidney cancer is clear. TCE has been firmly established in the medical and epidemiological literature as an agent capable of causing kidney cancer
This post will look at the evidence linking kidney cancer to the Camp Lejeune water supply and the potential settlement amounts for a Camp Lejeune kidney cancer lawsuit.
Our lawyers represent victims seeking to file a kidney cancer disease lawsuit in all 50 states. If you have a potential kidney injury claim after spending 30 days at Camp Lejeune from 1953 to 1987, call our legal team today at 800-553-8082 or get a free online no-obligation consultation.
The Water Contamination Debacle at Camp Lejeune
Over three decades spanning the 1950s and ending in 1987, employees, Marines, and their families at the Camp Lejeune military base were drinking water heavily polluted with toxic chemicals. News of the contamination and apparent cover-up by the USMC caused a loud public outcry that has fueled an intense government response involving 20 years of research and public health studies.
The public health inquisition into the potential health effects of the Camp Lejeune contamination disaster has repeatedly and categorically concluded that kidney cancer is the disease with the strongest causation link to the Lejeune water.
Thanks to a new law passed by Congress, residents who developed kidney cancer from the water at Camp Lejeune can file lawsuits and get settlement compensation from the government. This post will look at the connection between kidney cancer and the water at Camp Lejeune and the settlement amount of these cases.
Camp Lejeune Water Contamination
Camp Lejeune is one of the country’s biggest Marine Corps bases. It occupies a massive swath of the North Carolina coast. Since the 1940s, Lejeune has served as a home, station, or workplace for millions of former Marines and civilians. In the later 1980s, it was discovered that the USMC had supplied these base residents and employees with poisoned water for 34 years. From 1953 to 1987, the water supply at Camp Lejeune had dangerously high levels of toxic chemical solvents.
The primary toxic chemicals polluting the Camp Lejeune water were perchloroethylene (PCE) and trichloroethylene (TCE). Both were in the water during the 34 years at levels over 2,000 times above the maximum safe level set by the EPA. Based on base records, researchers have estimated that over 1 million people were exposed to the poisoned water at Camp Lejeune over this period.
Veterans groups and the public were understandably outraged when the water contamination at Camp Lejeune was reported. This inevitably led to an overwhelming response by public health agencies at the federal government’s direction. Since the early 2000s, these various agencies have pursued a comprehensive scientific inquiry into the long-term health consequences of water contamination.
Kidneys serve a critical function within the body. Our blood collects waste products from metabolic functions. The kidney act as a clearing mechanism by filtering and purifying our blood.
Cancer is the uncontrolled growth of normal cells that become cancerous. These cells no longer have the regular checks and balances normal skin cells do; they grow and form tumors. That’s a straightforward explanation of a highly complex disease.
Kidney cancer is the 7th leading cause of cancer among men in the United States. Kidney cancer is twice as common in men than in women.
The incidence of kidney cancer is increasing. Thankfully, death from kidney cancer has decreased. Better imagining leads to diagnoses at earlier stages.
Treatment for kidney cancer depends on the stage and location of the cancer, as well as the patient’s overall health. Surgery to remove part or all of the affected kidney is often the first line of treatment, followed by radiation therapy or chemotherapy. In some cases, targeted therapy or immunotherapy may be used to destroy cancer cells or slow the growth of the tumor.
TCE Contaminated Water Causes Kidney Cancer
TCE causes kidney cancer. Period. When people are exposed to TCE through inhalation, ingestion, or skin contact, it can be metabolized in the body and form toxic byproducts that can damage DNA and other cellular structures. Over time, this damage can lead to the development of cancerous cells, including in the kidneys.
No serious scientists do not believe TCE – a ubiquitous toxin at Camp Lejeune – plays a significant role in the causation of kidney cancer in people exposed to it. TCE causes mutations in the kidney’s important tumor suppressor gene, the von Hippel Lindau (VHL) gene. VHL mutations, a genetic marker of common kidney cancer, are also in abnormal prevalence among TCE-exposed workers with kidney cancer.
These three studies will be critical in any lawsuit alleging exposure to kidney cancer from the TCE in the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune:
2009 NRC Report Links Kidney Cancer to Camp Lejeune
In the early 2000s, the Navy directed the National Research Council to research and report on adverse health outcomes associated with past water supply contamination at Camp Lejeune. The result was the 2009 National Research Council report (the “NRC Report”) which became one of the earliest public health studies on the impact of the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune.
The NRC Report was inconclusive and dissatisfying in many respects. Still, the one definitive conclusion it made was that overwhelming evidence connected the Camp Lejeune water to kidney cancer and disease.
ATSDR Study Finds Higher Kidney Cancer Rates at Camp Lejeune
Five years later, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) released the following significant study results published in Environmental Health in 2014. The mortality studies done by the ATSDR found that former Lejeune residents displayed much higher rates of kidney cancer and kidney disease than a control group. The study concluded that kidney cancer and disease had the most convincing evidentiary link to the Lejeune water contamination.
VA Committee Affirms Kidney Cancer Link to Camp Lejeune
In 2015, the Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) formed a special committee of medical experts from across the country (the “VA Committee) to assist the administration of new health benefits for Camp Lejeune veterans. The VA Committee undertook a comprehensive review and assessment of the previous public health studies and other outside research to advise the VA on which health conditions could be linked to the Lejeune water based on valid evidence.
The findings of the VA Committee and the evidentiary support for them were detailed in the report titled: VA Clinical Guidance on the Health Conditions Identified by the Camp Lejeune Legislation. The VA Committee reached the same obvious conclusion as all of the previous inquiries: kidney cancer has a definitive connection to the water at Camp Lejeune. The VA Committee found that the most substantial evidence of causation supported kidney cancer. Here is the money quote:
“The toxicologic evidence was strongest for the associations between trichloroethylene (TCE) and kidney cancer and between PCE and kidney cancer.”
Science Is Even More Clear in 2023
Perhaps the strongest recent statement that TCE causes kidney cancer is found in the EPA’s Toxicological Review of TCE.
After reviewing the available epidemiologic data, the report concluded that TCE is “carcinogenic in humans by all routes of exposure.” The EPA reached its conclusions on “convincing evidence of a causal association between TCE exposure in humans and kidney cancer” and “strong epidemiological evidence” connecting TCE and kidney cancer.
The EPA relied upon several occupational studies that found meaningful elevations in the incidence of kidney cancer from workers exposed to TCE. A mortality study of IBM Endicott workers utilized the mortality experience of workers who died between 1969-2001. An epidemiologic feasibility assessment indicated the worker’s likely exposure to TCE. The results showed significantly increased mortality due to kidney cancer.
Camp Lejeune Kidney Cancer Lawsuits Under New Federal Law
For years now, Camp Lejeune water pollution victims have been unable to bring civil lawsuits and get compensation from the government. A strict statute of repose in North Carolina was effectively used to dismiss these lawsuits. Last year, Congress enacted a new federal law that creates a right for Camp Lejeune victims to bring claims and get settlements. Individuals with kidney cancer who served at Lejeune should be first in line because kidney cancer is undoubtedly connected to contaminated water.
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act (CLJA) (which is merged into a larger bill called the Honoring Our Pact Act), passed the House by a wide margin back in March. Last month the Senate passed it but made some amendments that required approval by the House. There is no doubt that the bill is eventually going to pass.
Once the CLJA is formally enacted, Camp Lejeune’s polluted water victims will have the right to file tort claims for injuries related to the water contamination. The CLJA specifically circumvents the North Carolina statute of repose, which had previously blocked these claims. Claimants will still need to prove their claims and allegations, but the CLJA adopts a much lower standard of proof than a typical civil case. The CLJA burden will permit plaintiffs to prove causation based on a single, valid study linking their injuries to the Lejeune water contaminants.
Under this lowered standard of proof for causation outlined in the CLJA, claimants with kidney cancer will have presumptive evidence of causation. All public health investigations and research reports have universally found that kidney cancer and chronic kidney disease can be associated with the water at Camp Lejeune. Plaintiffs with kidney cancer claims will probably just need to prove that they lived or worked at Lejeune during the relevant period to establish their claims.
How Much Money in Settlement Compensation Will the Government Pay for a Camp Lejeune Kidney Cancer Lawsuit?
Based on values in kidney cancer cases, Camp Lejeune claims involving kidney cancer could have a settlement value between $200,000 and $375,000. We are basing this on settlement payouts primarily in medical malpractice cases involving misdiagnosing kidney cancer. This leaves much room for speculation, so take these settlement amount projections with many grains of salt. Claims involving chronic kidney disease claims will have lower compensation payouts, possibly around $80,000 to $125,000.
But these settlement projections are premature. It is too early to say with certainty what the average settlement payout value will be for successful Camp Lejeune water contamination claimants in kidney cancer cases. Our lawyers can use prior verdicts and reported settlements in other tort cases involving kidney cancer or kidney disease, coupled with our understanding of how the Camp Lejeune lawsuits work, to make reasonable settlement compensation projections estimates. But they are just that – an estimate.
Kidney Cancer Settlements & Verdicts
Below are summaries of actual settlements and jury payouts in prior tort cases in which the plaintiff alleged primary injury was kidney cancer.
- Heiser v Soble (New Jersey 2019) $2,400,000: 39-month delay in diagnosis allowed the plaintiff’s kidney cancer to progress from Stage I to Stage IV. The jury awarded $2.4 million in damages, including $2 million for pain and suffering.
- Senna v Joshi (Massachusetts 2018) $1,200,000: failure to diagnose kidney cancer in a 54-year-old male led to progression to the terminal stage and caused death. $1.2 million awarded for wrongful death and separate damages were awarded to surviving children.
- Bartlett v Du Pont (Ohio 2015) $1,600,000: 57-year-old woman sued a manufacturing company claiming that she developed kidney cancer from exposure to chemicals in her water that the defendant contaminated.
- Licolli v Boyko (Pennsylvania 2015) $1,587,420: failure to diagnose kidney cancer resulted in the death of a 67-year-old man.
- Shelby v Exxon Mobil (California 2008) $8,000,000: plaintiff claimed that he developed kidney cancer from exposure to toxic chemicals while working on an oil vessel.
What do these kidney cancer settlements and jury payouts tell us about Camp Lejeune lawsuits alleging this injury? They tell us that juries will award significant damages if the defendant is found responsible – which will not be hard to establish in Lejeune. The average Camp Lejeune kidney cancer verdict would be in the millions. Will the government let any kidney cancer lawsuits go to trial? It is possible… but unlikely. Our lawyers believe the JAG will be smart enough to cover reasonable settlement payouts before letting one of these claims go to trial.
Example Camp Lejeune Kidney Cancer Lawsuit
An example of a Camp Lejeune kidney cancer lawsuit is Fancher et al. v. United States (2:22-cv-26). A group of nine plaintiffs filed the case. All nine plaintiffs lived or worked at Camp Lejeune during the water contamination period (1953 to 1987) and were later diagnosed with kidney cancer.
The Fancher Complaint adopts the minimal style of pleading, so it only states the bare facts necessary to assert the cause of action and nothing more. This means that the Complaint does not offer much in the way of detailed factual narratives about the individual plaintiffs and their connection to Camp Lejeune. There is no information about how long or where they lived at Lejeune or whether they were service members, family, or employees.
Instead, the Complaint asserts that each of the nine plaintiffs lived or worked at Camp Lejeune for a minimum of 1 month between August 1953 and December 1987. The Camp Lejeune lawsuit further alleges that during this time, the plaintiffs were exposed to toxic chemicals in the water, including TCE, PCE, vinyl chloride, and benzene. Finally, the suit alleges that after her time at Camp Lejeune, each plaintiff was diagnosed with kidney cancer.
Recently Filed Kidney Disease Lawsuit
On March 6, 2023, a Hidalgo County, Texas resident filed a Camp Lejeune kidney disease lawsuit ( 7:23-cv-206). The plaintiff, Mr. Whitzel, was exposed to toxic water at Camp Lejeune while residing, working, or being otherwise exposed.
As a result of this exposure, the plaintiff accrued multiple life-threatening severe illnesses, including kidney disease. On August 10, 2022, the plaintiff filed an administrative claim for compensation with the United States Navy under 28 USC § 2675. The Navy constructively denied it by failing to dispose of the claim within six months of the filing date, which satisfied the statute’s requirements before filing a Camp Lejeune lawsuit.
Proving a Contaminated Water Kidney Cancer Lawsuit
Kidney cancer is one of the handfuls of health conditions that the VA has classified as presumptively connected to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune. This means that the scientific evidence linking the Camp Lejeune water to kidney cancer is solid and compelling.
Under the lower equipoise causation standard adopted by the CLJA, it will be challenging for the government to oppose causation in cases involving “presumptive” Camp Lejeune diseases such as kidney cancer.
Our lawyers think PCE causes kidney cancer. But ultimately, reasonable people can argue whether PCE causes kidney cancer. But there is no rational argument that TCE does not cause kidney cancer. TCE was ubiquituous at Camp Lejeune.
Contact Us About a Camp Lejeune Kidney Cancer Lawsuit
If you lived or worked at Camp Lejeune between 1953 and 1987 and were subsequently diagnosed with kidney cancer or kidney disease, contact our law office today at 800-553-8082 to see if you may be eligible to file a Camp Lejeune lawsuit for the harm that was done to you or your loved one. You can also reach out to us online for a free confidential consultation.