When Will My Camp Lejeune Case Settle?

When will my Camp Lejeune lawsuit settle? So far, we have 42 Camp Lejeune settlements out of over 170,000 claims.

There is no Camp Lejeune class action lawsuit. But these claims have many of the same features of a class action lawsuit, and lawyers work together as they do in an MDL class action.  Famously, class action lawsuits can take up to a decade before settlement payouts are offered.

That will not happen here. Our lawyers explain below why we do not think it will be long before better Camp Lejeune settlement payouts are offered. But we need a better plan than the Elective Option because those offers will not get us far.

This post provides the best answer to the question of, “When is my Camp Lejeune case going to settle?” Our attorneys explain

  1. the procedural process that Camp Lejeune cases must go through,
  2. how the government is handling the Camp Lejeune cases and
  3. when to expect a settlement offer in your case.

March 15, 2024 Update – Faster Path to Settlement Now?

Ironically, the biggest development that could speed up Camp Lejeune settlements is bad news. The four U.S. District Court judges in North Carolina ruled that individuals affected by previous water contamination incidents at Camp Lejeune are not eligible for jury trials in their damage claims against the federal government. Instead, the judges will determine liability and damages.

This is bad news.  Plaintiffs wanted and fought for jury trials.  And we think it is a bad ruling. But what will likely do is speed up the settlement process. We will get faster trials and more multiple plaintiff trials and this will likely put more pressure on the government to craft a more global settlement resolution.

March 13, 2024 Update – Settlement Update (Elective Option Not Working)

Two divisions within the government, the Torts Branch and the Department of Justice, are currently offering settlements. Why do they have it set up this way?  I have no idea.

The Torts Branch has identified 50 litigation cases that are eligible for the Elective Option following document verification, categorized by injury as follows: 14 for Bladder Cancer, 12 for Kidney Cancer, 10 for Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, 5 for Kidney Disease, 4 for Parkinson’s Disease, 3 for Leukemia, and 2 for Multiple Myeloma.

Settlement proposals have been made, with 18 accepted for various conditions, including amounts ranging from $150,000 to $450,000 for Bladder Cancer, $100,000 to $250,000 for Kidney Disease (End Stage Renal Disease), $150,000 to $300,000 for Kidney Cancer, $150,000 for Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, $250,000 for Multiple Myeloma, and $100,000 to $400,000 for Parkinson’s Disease. Nine rejections and ten expired offers across different diagnoses have been rejected, with 13 offers still under consideration.

Furthermore, the DOJ has extended settlement offers to 59 claimants based on information from the Navy, with 24 acceptances, two rejections, 25 expired offers, and eight still pending. So far, disbursements totaling $3.6 million have been made for eight settlements from the Navy and seven from the DOJ for various conditions, with settlement amounts ranging from $100,000 to $400,000.

Considering the small number of lawsuits settled so far, it is time to deem the Elective Option a complete failure.  We will take forever at this pace and these judges will not allow that.  We need a new plan to start reducing the number of cases and that plan has to be higher more inclusive settlements.

January 23, 2024 Update – Lejeune Settlements

There have now been some Camp Lejeune settlements, which have raised expectations as to when the Camp Lejeune lawsuit will be settled.

But there are only 13 settlements at this point. Here is how they look:

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
Leukemia 4 $1,050,000 $262,500

This is, suffice to say, slow-moving. We have over 150,000 claims. But attorneys for Camp Lejeune victims are pushing forward and putting real pressure on the government to come up with a new plan to get more of these lawsuits settled.

September 26, 2023 Update: Navy Announces Camp Lejeune Early Settlement Program

Earlier this month, the Navy and the Department of Justice (DOJ) launched an elective early settlement program to give Camp Lejeune victims who meet specific criteria the option of accepting an immediate, preset settlement payout rather than continuing to litigate their claims. Claimants eligible to participate in the program can immediately qualify for settlements ranging from $100,000 to $450,000.

The settlement program is only open to Camp Lejeune claimants with one of 9 specific diseases or health conditions considered “qualifying injuries” under the settlement program. These nine qualifying injuries are also ranked into two different Tiers. injuries. Claimants with Tier 1 injuries will be eligible to receive slightly higher settlement awards compared to claimants with Tier 2 injuries. The nine qualifying injuries under the Lejeune settlement program are as follows:

DISEASE TIER
Kidney Cancer Tier 1
Liver Cancer Tier 1
Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma Tier 1
Leukemias (all types) Tier 1
Bladder Cancer Tier 1
Multiple Myeloma Tier 2
Parkinson’s Disease Tier 2
Kidney Disease / End-Stage Renal Disease Tier 2
Systemic Sclerosis / Systemic Scleroderma Tier 2

The amount of settlement compensation an eligible Camp Lejeune claimant can receive under the program is determined by a 2-by-3 “Elective Option Grid.” The settlement compensation amount is based on two factors: (1) whether the claimant’s injury is ranked in Tier 1 or Tier 2, and (2) the length of time that the claimant lived or worked at Camp Lejeune.

30-364 Days 1-5 Years Over 5 Years
Tier 1 $150,000 $300,000 $450,000
Tier 2 $100,000 $250,000 $400,000

The settlement payouts offered under the early settlement program are meager compared to what the claimants could potentially get if they hold out. The primary goal of this program is to reduce the overall number of CLJA claims that the Navy and DOJ have to handle.

May 26, 2023 Update: Is a Camp Lejuene Settlement on the Horizon?

A Navy attorney emailed Camp Lejeune lawyers frankly acknowledging that the Navy is facing challenges in swiftly reviewing compensation claims from veterans impacted by toxic water at Camp Lejeune.

The email admitted that the Navy lacks the financial resources and personnel necessary for prompt processing. She revealed that the tort claims unit is working extensive overtime to handle the claims and expressed optimism about doubling the staff by the end of summer.

However, despite promises, the Navy has not yet established the anticipated online portal to expedite claims. Congress has not allocated the additional funds required to manage the compensation program effectively. This is a pretty candid admission. The email aptly described the Camp Lejeune claims process as akin to “building a plane mid-air,” emphasizing the complexity and urgency of the situation. Building a plane mid-air explains why 45,000 claims are being submitted to the Navy, yes no settlements or settlement offers have been made.

So that is the bad news. The good news is the Navy is feeling the pressure – the right kind of pressure it will feel compelled to address. Legislators from both sides of the political spectrum are increasing their demands for an explanation regarding the lack of progress by the Navy in resolving cases of toxic water contamination at Camp Lejeune.

Senators Ted Budd (R-N.C.) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), along with Representative Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.), are calling for a swift resolution of these cases. They expressed their concerns in a letter addressed to Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro and Attorney General Merrick Garland, emphasizing that any delay in processing these claims is a serious injustice. So this may help push the ball along.

Best guess right now as to when Camp Lejeune settlements will start to be more than just the slow drip we see below? The first half of 2024.

Which Camp Lejeune lawsuits will be settled first? I think the answer is pretty straightforward. These six conditions will be the first to settle:

  1. Bladder Cancer
  2. Kidney Cancer
  3. Leukemia
  4. Parkinson’s Disease
  5. Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
  6. Multiple Myeloma

Thousands of Camp Lejeune Cases Filed Under New Law

If you are reading this post, you probably already know most of the story by now. From 1953 to 1987, the drinking water supply at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina was extremely contaminated with toxic, cancer-causing chemicals. The level of carcinogenic chemicals in the Lejeune water were several thousand times above the maximum safe limits set by health agencies. Camp Lejeune was one of the worst cases of water contamination in U.S. history.

Anyone who lived or worked at Camp Lejeune (or the New River Air Base) before 1987 was unknowingly exposed to an unhealthy dose of toxic chemicals. After the contamination was eventually discovered, public health studies were performed by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) to evaluate what impact this exposure had on the health of former Camp Lejeune residents. These studies found that employees and residents at Lejeune displayed significantly higher rates of cancer and other health conditions. The study concluded that there was a clear link between the Lejeune water and cancer.

Once this evidence became public, outraged victims of the Camp Lejeune water tragedy brought civil lawsuits against the government to get financial compensation for injuries caused by exposure to the toxic water. Unfortunately, these cases were legally barred due to strict laws in North Carolina imposing time limits on tort claims.

In August 2022, Congress took action to correct this obvious injustice by passing the Camp Lejeune Justice Act (CLJA). The CLJA permits any individual who worked or lived at Camp Lejeune for at least 1 month between 1953 and 1987 the right to bring a civil lawsuit against the government for harm caused by the toxic water at Lejeune. The CLJA essentially removed the legal barriers that had prevented the Camp Lejeune victims from bringing civil lawsuits.

In the months since the CLJA was passed, thousands of Camp Lejeune cases have already been filed. As of December 2022, over 15,000 CLJA claims have been filed with the Navy JAG Tort Claims Unit.

How Long Will it Take For Settlements in Camp Lejeune Cases?

Thousands of Camp Lejeune victims (or their surviving families) who have filed cases under the CLJA are now left to wonder how long they will have to wait before getting financial compensation. Will the government make settlement offers and how long will that take? Before we speculate on how long it could take for Camp Lejeune cases to settle, we need to briefly explain the procedural steps that CLJA claims must go through.

STEP 1: File a Camp Lejeune Claim With Navy JAG

The CLJA gives Camp Lejeune victims the right to file civil lawsuits against the federal government. However, before a civil lawsuit can be filed in court, the CLJA requires all prospective plaintiffs to file a preliminary “administrative claim” with the Navy Judge Advocates General Tort Claims Unit (JAG).

Filing these “administrative claims” is mandatory under the CLJA. Before any Camp Lejeune plaintiff can file a civil lawsuit in court they must first show that they properly filed an admin claim with JAG and that JAG acknowledged receipt of the claim. Once the claim is filed with JAG, claimants cannot move forward with their lawsuit unless and until: (a) JAG formally denies the claim, or (b) 6 months have passed since JAG acknowledged the claim and no action has been taken.

Initially, many Camp Lejeune lawyers (ourselves included) optimistically believed that JAG would use the administrative claim process as a chance to make settlement offers in certain cases. Unfortunately, it does not look like that is going to be the case. The JAG Tort Claims Unit has been flooded with CLJA claims. There has been no settlement offers made to date and it doesn’t seem like JAG has the staffing resources to handle that task anyway.

At this point, JAG is still not even accepting or reviewing supporting documents for CLAJ claims. It now appears that the JAG administrative claim process will simply be a mandatory 6-month speed bump that most Camp Lejeune cases will have to go through.

STEP 2: File a Civil Lawsuit

Camp Lejeune victims can file a civil lawsuit once JAG either formally denies their admin claim or 6 months pass and JAG takes no action on the claim. Once that happens, Camp Lejeune cases must be filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina. This is the mandatory venue for all Camp Lejeune lawsuits.

Once the civil case is filed, a summons will be issued and then served on the government. Once that summons is served, the clock starts ticking on deadlines in the case. At some point, we believe that the Camp Lejeune lawsuits will be consolidated together much like a class action MDL. There will simply be too many Camp Lejeune cases for the government to defend each one individually.

STEP 3: Go Through Civil Discovery Process

Once a Camp Lejeune lawsuit is filed, plaintiffs will need to go through some type of civil discovery process. This is the process in civil lawsuits where each side gets to learn facts and obtain documents or evidence from the opposing party. Discovery usually involves depositions of the plaintiff and key witnesses and document requests.

The discovery process in Camp Lejeune cases will be different than in normal civil cases. The Camp Lejeune cases will have to be consolidated in some way because there will be too many for individual discovery to happen in each case. The discovery process will likely be similar to what we see in class action MDLs in mass torts. Each plaintiff will likely have to provide some type of standard discovery question form and provide certain documents (e.g., service records, proof of residence, medical records).

Wait for Government to Make a Settlement Offer

Once the consolidated discovery requirements are satisfied, Camp Lejeune plaintiffs will just need to wait and see if the government makes a settlement offer. The government lawyers will use the information provided in discovery to identify those cases in which the plaintiffs appear to have valid claims.

At that point, the government lawyers will likely come up with some type of settlement valuation matrix or formula. This matrix will essentially provide valuations for cases that fall into certain categories or tiers. This will likely be very similar to settlement tiers we see in mass tort global settlements. Plaintiffs in the top settlement tiers will get the highest settlement offer amounts, while plaintiffs in lower settlement tiers will get smaller settlement offers.

The type of injury will be the most significant factor in determining how much a Camp Lejeune case is worth, and what settlement Tier the case might end up in. Below are our current settlement payout value estimates for Camp Lejeune cases based on injury type. Is the what the government is offering right now? No.

INJURY TYPE ESTIMATED SETTLEMENT VALUE
Bladder Cancer $200,000 – $425,000
Brain Cancer $600,000 – $1,200,000
Cervical Cancer $150,000 – $340,000
Colon Cancer $100,000 – $280,000
Esophageal Cancer $210,000 – $600,000
Kidney Cancer $175,000 – $425,000
Leukemia $220,000 – $575,000
Liver Cancer $260,000 – $550,000
Lung Cancer $200,000 – $500,000
Lymphoma $250,000 – $475,000
Ovarian Cancer $150,000 – $340,000
Parkinson’s Disease $600,000 – $1,500,000
Myelodysplastic Syndromes $110,000 – $320,000
Scleroderma $120,000 – $275,000
Anemia $110,000 – $250,000
Wrongful Death $400,000 – $1,500,000
Infertility $100,000 – $250,000
Birth Defects $250,000 – $2,000,000

Check out our Camp Lejeune settlement amount estimates for more info.

So How Soon Will the Camp Lejeune Settlement Be Paid?

Our current estimate on the likely time frame for settlements in Camp Lejeune cases is that we will see a plan in early 2024 to settle more of these cases faster. Victims want their settlement paid and over with and, thankfully, so does the government.

This is an important thing to keep in mind. The defendant in the Camp Lejeune cases is the federal government. The government is primarily motivated by political pressures and not by the financial bottom line. The political pressure in the Camp Lejeune cases will be decided in favor of awarding compensation to deserving veterans with legitimate injuries.

One unrelated but important thought: that 2024 is an election year is a good thing for the Camp Lejeune settlement timeline, for all of the obvious reason.

Will Camp Lejeune Cases Go to Trial?

It is highly unlikely that your Camp Lejeune will ever go to trial. There will probably be 100,000 to 150,000 Camp Lejeune cases filed. This means that even if the government wanted to take every case (or even just some of the cases) to trial it wouldn’t be physically possible. One of the judges in North Carolina made a joke about how it would take 2,000 years to try these lawsuits. Even taking 1% of the Camp Lejeune cases to trial would be impossible.

We could potentially see a small handful of “test cases” go to trial. We hope this happens. In class action MDLs, a few individual cases are selected for so-called “bellwether” trials and the results of these trials are then used to help facilitate a global settlement of the remaining cases. Of course, the Camp Lejeune situation is entirely different because, unlike a mass tort MDL, every Camp Lejeune suit is its own individual claim. And the defendant is the federal government, not a corporation.

How Does the Elective Option Work?

First, let me say I do not think the Elective Option is the best path to a fair settlement for most victims. But it is for some.

Here is a breakdown of the Elective Option process:

  1. Department of Navy (DON) Proposal: The DON will propose eligible Elective Option offers to the Department of Justice (DOJ).
  2. DOJ Confirmation: If the DOJ confirms that you meet the requirements for the Elective Option and approves the DON’s determination, they will notify you through your attorney (if you’re represented) of the Elective Option offer. If a lawsuit is already filed, the DOJ will screen the cases and follow a similar process.
  3. Acceptance Window: Once you receive an Elective Option offer, you have 60 days to decide whether to accept or decline it.
  4. Signing Release: If you accept the offer, you’ll then have 14 days to sign a release of claims, which releases the United States from any liability related to exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune.
  5. Payment: If you complete all the necessary documentation accurately and in a timely manner, you can expect to receive your payment within 60 days or less.

To sum it up, if you receive an Elective Option offer today and decide to accept it within 60 days, followed by signing the required documents within 14 days, you should receive your Camp Lejeune settlement check within 60 days.

Does that sound enticing? Of course. But we think the payouts will go up as we go forward, and most victims – again, not all – should be as patient as possible to see what comes next.

Contact Us About a Camp Lejeune Case

If you lived or worked at Camp Lejeune between 1953 and 1987 and you were later diagnosed with a disease from the toxic water, call us today at 800-553-8082 to see if you have a  se. You can also get a free, no-obligation case review online.

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