Everyone who lived or worked at Camp Lejeune between 1953 and 1987 was likely exposed to harmful chemicals. The contaminated water at this Jacksonville, North Carolina, military facility is linked to devastating health conditions from cancer to infertility. A mass tort has been filed to help those who have been affected, and you can get help too. If you were stationed at Camp Lejeune, find out what to do next and how you can recover your damages right here.
What Happened to Camp Lejeune’s Water?
In 1982, the U.S. Marine Corps discovered that two of Camp Lejeune’s water treatment plants tested positive for PCE (perchloroethylene or tetrachloroethylene), TCE (trichloroethylene), vinyl chloride, and benzene. The contamination was traced back to August 1, 1953, and lasted until December 31, 1987. Officials confirmed the sources of the pollutants were an off-base dry cleaning firm, industrial area spills, leaking underground storage tanks, and waste disposal sites. This seepage led to an estimated 800,000 gallons of benzene in the groundwater near the base’s hospital and member service quarters.
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) stepped in to study the water at Camp Lejeune in 1993. The organization was concerned that people were being exposed to dangerous chemicals associated with life-threatening conditions, such as cancer. However, it dismissed the risk at the time. The organization rescinded its original report just four years later, and in 2009, it concluded that benzene could, in fact, cause serious health problems for Marine veterans, their children, and other personnel.
What Medical Conditions Are Related to the Toxic Water?
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) established a presumptive connection between the water at Camp Lejeune and numerous health problems. While the VA continues to explore new cases, there is sufficient evidence to support that the following medical conditions are directly connected to the base’s water contamination issue:
- Aplastic anemia.
- Bladder, breast, esophageal, kidney, liver, and lung cancer.
- Female infertility and miscarriage.
- Hepatic steatosis.
- Multiple myeloma.
- Myelodysplastic syndromes.
- Neurobehavioral effects.
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
- Parkinson’s disease.
- Renal toxicity.
- Scleroderma (inflammatory rheumatic disease).
What Is the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022?
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022, which is part of the PACT Act, is the U.S. government’s attempt to help suffering veterans and their families. Those affected by the base’s polluted water are entitled to free medical care, and personnel who qualify may also collect a $15,000 payment. However, those funds won’t go far when you’re living with Parkinson’s disease or trying to start a family.
Before the PACT Act became law, officials denied claims based on a 2016 court opinion that said conditions didn’t warrant lifting the government’s sovereign immunity. However, once President Biden signed the legislation into law in August 2022, it opened the two-year period for injured parties to seek compensation. If you believe you meet the criteria, file your complaint with the Navy’s Judge Advocate General (JAG) office, Tort Claims Unit. Military officials in Norfolk, Virginia, will then decide whether or not to accept liability for your injuries and offer you compensation.
Is Camp Lejeune a Mass Tort Case?
The lawsuits against the U.S. government alleging Camp Lejeune’s tainted water caused personal injuries do qualify as a mass tort. These types of cases comprise a collection of individual lawsuits against the same perpetrator. While there are a large number of people who have been exposed at the base, mass torts and class action lawsuits are not the same. A class action typically involves more claimants, although they tend to be much simpler than mass torts in terms of resolution, which is why it pays to have an experienced legal team fighting for you.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that up to 1 million people were exposed to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune. Marine Corps members and their families can now sue the government because the Act’s six-month waiting period has expired. As of February 2023, plaintiffs have filed more than 100 lawsuits in U.S. federal courts, and we expect that number to climb significantly over the legislation’s 24-month time frame.
How To Sign Up if You’re Affected
Veterans, other military personnel, and even civilian employees who worked or lived at Camp Lejeune during the qualifying period may be eligible for compensation. Family members, including children, may also be entitled to damages, but only if they lived in the base’s family housing units during the 34 years the water supply was contaminated. You and your loved ones shouldn’t have to worry about developing a severe medical condition, such as hepatic steatosis or cancer, simply because you were stationed at this military base.
Once you file your administrative claim with the Navy’s Tort Claims Unit in Virginia, hire an attorney from a firm like De Castroverde Personal Injury & Accident Lawyer. While you could let the government decide how much your pain and suffering are worth, we can help you file a federal lawsuit in the Eastern District of North Carolina. Our expert legal counselors will lead you through the court process, even if you haven’t received a decision from the Tort Claims Unit.
Roughly 20,000 administrative claims have been filed with the Navy’s Tort Claims Unit since the 2022 law was enacted. But to date, none have been fully adjudicated. That’s why the award-winning personal injury attorneys at De Castroverde are dedicated to helping people like you recover the kind of financial compensation you’re entitled to. Administrations can take years, and with the serious nature of the medical conditions associated with Camp Lejeune’s toxic water, you want to get on with your life knowing you did everything you could to make the situation right for you and your family.
If you’re experiencing any health conditions you think may be related to Camp Lejeune’s contaminated water supply, get in touch with us. We’ll help you explore your legal options and determine if you qualify for damages, including medical bills, loss of wages, or disability. Don’t wait for your condition to worsen or for the PACT Act to expire. Consult with us today.