You or your loved one might be eligible for compensation if you spent 30 or more consecutive days at Camp Lejeune between August 1953 and December 1987. The Ruth Law Team is available to help you explore your legal options. Recently, Congress passed the Camp Lejeune Justice Act (CLJA), which allows veterans and their families to file compensation claims.
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act (CLJA)
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act allows veterans and their families to file a civil lawsuit over Camp Lejeune’s water contamination. The law requires a much lighter evidentiary burden to prove causation than would usually be required in a case, making it more likely that claimants will receive financial compensation. The Camp Lejeune lawsuit refers to a series of legal actions against the U.S. government for the contamination of drinking water at the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina between 1953 and 1987. This contamination primarily consisted of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), predominantly trichloroethylene (TCE) and perchloroethylene (PCE), used in industrial processes and found in some cleaning products. Exposure to certain chemicals is linked to an increased risk of cancer, congenital disabilities, and neurological disorders.
In addition, the law eliminates three obstacles that had previously hindered victims. First, it removes a 10-year statute of limitations from state laws that had blocked Camp Lejeune water contamination claims.
The leadership committee for the CLJA recently met to discuss case progress and plans. One issue that came up was the government’s motion to upend leadership. The leadership team pushed back, pointing out that courts have long relied on Federal Rules and the Manual for Complex Litigation to designate lead counsel in multifaceted cases.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers is increasing pressure on the Navy to speed up resolving the claims of veterans poisoned by toxic water at Camp Lejeune Marine base. They recently sent a letter to the Department of Justice and the Department of the Navy demanding answers about why cases have been stalled so long.
The DON can offer settlements to veterans who have diseases that the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) has linked to water contamination at Camp Lejeune. Award amounts are tiered based on the length of time a veteran was exposed to the contaminated water and the strength of the evidence.
Wrongful death claims may be filed in these cases. The Eastern District of North Carolina sees an average of over 20 new CLJA lawsuits filed each day.
Since last year, Congress passed the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, which has opened up many more opportunities for our military men and women to pursue civil claims against the Navy. This new law enabled victims to file administrative claims with JAG that could later lead to civil lawsuits in North Carolina federal courts.
The Navy faces intense pressure to address the thousands of Camp Lejeune water contamination claims. A recent study revealed elevated cancer rates among the military and civilian workers who lived and worked at Camp Lejeune.
The Camp Lejeune litigation judges recently signed Case Management Order #5. It will help the Court and all parties promptly move the cases forward. The Judges have also proposed forming several committees to focus on the science behind the cases, the retention of experts, and discovery issues.
After President Biden signed the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, survivors of the toxic exposure began filing claims to receive compensation. A legal landscape was quickly formed and shaped by state law, Marine Corps policies, and environmental protection imperatives.
With so many claims filed, lawyers requested that the cases be consolidated for pretrial discovery into what resembles multidistrict litigation (MDL). The government agreed with this move and requested strict rules on privileged documents.
The Camp Lejeune MDL is still a work in progress. It is expected that the first settlement payouts will be made in 2024. The plaintiffs and the government debate how cases should be grouped into “tracks.” They agree that they should be grouped based on the disease alleged.
The Camp Lejeune contamination scandal is a complex issue that spans many decades. It involves the military, a public corporation, and several legal entities.
The lawsuits are shaped by North Carolina law, Marine Corps policies, and environmental protection imperatives. This unique situation requires the expertise of a qualified attorney to ensure that victims are adequately compensated for their injuries.
The first round of trials will include plaintiffs with Tier 1 diseases, with the most substantial evidence linking them to exposure to contaminated water. Eighty-four new lawsuits are filed daily, and the Eastern District of North Carolina is anticipating an avalanche of litigation. The Navy has requested more time to respond to these cases.