The recently discovered water contamination issue at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina has prompted Congress to vote on legislation allowing for compensation for anyone who served in the military (or their families) during the time period between August 1953 and December 1987. These cases were filed first as a class action lawsuit and the evidence uncovered has established that many military personnel could have developed health problems associated with consuming and being exposed to the contaminated water in a variety of ways. Multiple types of contamination were found in the water during testing, including industrial toxins and waste runoff from the surrounding area. The Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawsuit also includes those who served at the Marine Corps Air Station New River.
As of 8/3/2022, recently-passed legislation in the House of Representatives has resulted in a reversal of policy and it is now anticipated that claims for compensation may soon be filed on behalf of victims. Specifically:
H. R. 2192 – Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2021
“To provide for recovery by individuals who were stationed lived, or worked at Camp Lejeune, for certain actions or omissions by the United States.”
SEC. 2. FEDERAL CAUSE OF ACTION RELATING TO WATER AT CAMP LEJEUNE.
(a) In General.—An individual, including a veteran, or the legal representative of such an individual, who resided, worked, or was otherwise exposed (including in utero exposure) for not less than 30 days during the period beginning August 1, 1953, and ending December 31, 1987, to water at Camp Lejeune that was supplied by the United States or on its behalf may bring an action in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina to obtain appropriate relief for harm which—
(1) was caused by exposure to the water;
(2) was associated with exposure to the water;
(3) was linked to exposure to the water; or
(4) the exposure to the water increased the likelihood of such harm.
Potentially Affected Victims
The number of medical cases stemming from exposure and consumption from this water contamination problem is extensive, and there have been victims who did not realize this was the cause of many of their illnesses. The condition existed and continued unabated for over 30 years. While the process will supposedly be designed to make it easier for victims to claim damages, there could still be problems identifying who is actually eligible for compensation without legal representation. Another class action lawsuit is now being prepared for filing, and it is important for any affected individuals to be evaluated for inclusion as soon as possible.
Types of Associated Illnesses
Anyone located at the Camp who used local water sources for everything ranging from cooking to cleaning, during the periods determined, has undoubtedly come in contact with harmful toxins. There are eight designated illnesses connected to the claim at the present, and anyone who has experienced these specific health problems could be qualified. The diseases include:
- Adult leukemia
- Bladder cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Liver cancer
- Multiple myeloma
- Non-Hodgkins lymphoma
- Parkinson’s disease
Who May Be Eligible?
Those who are currently eligible include all veterans, reserves, and guardsmen who were stationed at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina between August 1953 and December 1987. Families of these affected soldiers are also eligible, and this now includes legal standing to file wrongful death claims on behalf of affected servicemen and women. These are separate cases in addition to the VA claims that may be filed by a primary veteran or civil service worker, hence damages could be available to families of anyone who died as a result of water contamination at Camp Lejeune. Each case will be unique to some extent, and securing necessary documentation could be a tedious process. This means that anyone who could be affected should consult with an attorney who is knowledgeable in the process and can craft a case where the necessary documentary evidence can be obtained that establishes a connection to the base.
The first step in opening a claim is contacting the Veterans Affairs office through their online portal at VA.gov or by consulting with a Class Action Lawsuit attorney who is already experienced in the process and understands the difficulties some victims may have in establishing their claims. Only certain types of evidence are being considered at this time, and many claimants would like to start compensation as soon as possible. After establishing that a victim was duly connected to the armed services in that particular region and encampment, the next step will be providing medical evidence of any claimed condition. The severity will be an issue in determination as well. Additionally, there could have been many who have since died of one of the designated diseases, so their families should be aware as also. All military documentation will be needed for those potential claimants along with medical evidence and postmortem reports revealing the cause of death.
Types of Toxins
These cases have been ongoing since it was discovered in 1982 that military personnel and their families who had been stationed at Camp Lejeune were experiencing an unusual number of serious illnesses, cancer in particular. The problem was not eliminated until 1987, so those who were residents there until the final cleanup could be eligible for compensation in some amount. The most alarming statistic was that the contamination levels in their bodies were up to 3000 times what is considered tolerable. Many of the associated toxins were due to industrial waste from the surrounding area and the chemicals that are used in training by the military. Trichloroethylene, also known as TCE, was a primary chemical found in high concentrations in many victims. TCE is a refrigerant additive and is used as a degreaser for multiple types of mechanical equipment. Other major chemicals found in the water that is also an indication of exposure in the systems of some victims include perchloroethylene (PCE), vinyl chloride (VS), and benzene. These chemicals are all known carcinogens, and even though they may be present in the system of seemingly healthy individuals in low amounts, the level of concentration can be an indicator of unknown or future health issues for some who are eligible for compensation. Testing is vital for these potential claimants.
Contact Our Law Firm
While Congress has yet to pass the associated legislation stemming from the Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawsuit, those who could possibly be included as a plaintiff should contact our office immediately for a full case evaluation. These cases have been processed individually since 2009, but now that Congress is acting there will be more information provided to the public for others who have been negatively affected as well. Anyone who has lived at Camp Lejeune and developed cancer could be eligible for compensation in the future. It is very important to file as soon as possible. Contact our offices today for more information and assistance with beginning a claim.