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One of the most common questions we get from clients is “what are the attorney fees for the Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuit?

Although most other law firms are charging fees of 40%, our Camp Lejeune attorney fees are 20% or 25% of the total recovery, depending on the stage your case is resolved or settled.

Camp Lejeune Attorney Fees Should Be Capped At 20% or 25%

Fob James Law Firm honors the attorney fee caps in both the Federal Tort Claims Act and Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2021.

Historically, the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) applies to negligence claims against the government. The FTCA expressly limits attorney fees to 20% for administrative settlements or 25% for litigation recoveries.

Likewise, the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2021 limited attorney fees to 20% or 25% of the amount recovered.

However, the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 signed into law by President Biden on August 10, 2022 did not include the attorney fee cap provision that was in the 2021 version. This has caused widespread confusion and many law firms are charging 40% contingency fees or higher.

To clarify the issue, the government announced in September 2023 that attorney fees for Camp Lejeune settlements are capped at 20% or 25%. The goal of the fee caps is to protect the financial interests of affected veterans.

If your Camp Lejeune claim is resolved without litigation, the attorney’s fee is 20% of the settlement. And if your claim is resolved after filing a lawsuit, the attorney’s fee is 25% of the total amount recovered.

Three Reasons For Capping Fees At 25%

The attorneys fees in Camp Lejeune water contamination cases should be capped at 20% or 25% for three main reasons:

  • The Federal Tort Claims Act historically caps attorney fees at 20% or 25%. The Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 incorporates the claims process of the FTCA.
  • The Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2021 provided that the attorney fees are limited to 20% or 25% of the settlement. This provision was later removed from the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 but the language incorporating the claims process of the FTCA remained.
  • The Department of Justice and Navy stated attorney fees for Camp Lejeune settlements are capped at 20-25%.

Regardless, our Camp Lejeune lawyers charge either a 20% or 25% attorney’s fee depending on if your claim resolves without litigation. If we do not obtain a recovery then you owe us nothing, not even expenses.

To schedule your free consultation with an attorney at the Fob James Law Firm, give us a call at (833) 684-0503 or contact us online.

The Federal Tort Claims Act Caps Attorney Fees

Historically, negligence claims filed against the federal government are brought under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA).

For example, before the Camp Lejeune Justice Act (CLJA) was signed into law, Camp Lejeune victims filed lawsuits against the federal government under the FTCA.

In most environmental tort cases where liability is disputed, law firms typically charge a 40% contingency fee.

However, under Section 2678 of the Federal Tort Claims Act, the attorney fees in tort claims brought against employees of the federal government are capped at a percentage of 20% or 25%, depending on the stage of the case.

Stage of CaseAttorney Fees
Pre-Suit20% of the recovery
After filing suit25% of the recovery
Table of Attorney Fee Schedule under the FTCA

Hypothetical #1 – Your Case is Settled Before Filing a Lawsuit

If your claim is resolved administratively (e.g. the claim is submitted to the Department of Defense and it settles the claim administratively), the lawyer’s fee is capped at 20% of the total recovery.

For example, say your case settled pre-litigation for $100,000.00, the attorney’s fee would be $20,000.00.

Hypothetical #2 – You File a Lawsuit

If your claim is resolved by settlement or judgment after the filing of a lawsuit, the lawyer’s fee is capped at 25% of the total recovery.

In this situation, if your case was resolved after filing a lawsuit for $100,000.00, the attorney’s fee would be $25,000.00.

The Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 Incorporates the Claims Process of the FTCA

The Camp Lejeune Justice Act in Section 2 paragraph (g) specifically incorporates the FTCA’s legal process set forth in 28 U.S. Code § 2675:

(g) Disposition By Federal Agency Required.—An individual may not bring an action under this section before complying with section 2675 of title 28, United States Code.

S.3176

This means that Camp Lejeune claims must first be submitted to the Office of the JAG. Thereafter, the JAG will have six months to administratively resolve the claim.

If the claim is not resolved within six months, claimants can file lawsuits in federal court in North Carolina.

Because the CLJA incorporates the FTCA’s claim process and tort claims against the federal government are historically brought under the FTCA, we believe that Camp Lejeune lawyer fees should be capped at 20% or 25%.

The Camp Lejeune Justice Act Of 2021 Limited Attorney Fees To 20% or 25%

The March 26, 2021 version of the Camp Lejeune Justice Act [H.R. 2192], which was introduced to the House of Representatives, specifically limited attorneys fees to 20% or 25% based on Section 2678 of the FTCA:

(H) ATTORNEY FEES.—ATTORNEY FEES FOR SERVICES PROVIDED TO AN INDIVIDUAL SEEKING A REMEDY UNDER THIS SECTION SHALL BE IN ACCORDANCE WITH SECTION 2678 OF TITLE 28, UNITED STATES CODE [FTCA].

H.R. 2192

This attorney fee provision was later removed from the Senate’s 2022 version of the bill [S.3176]. However, Section 2(g) of the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, which incorporates the claims process of the FTCA, remained in the final bill passed by Congress and signed into law. As a result, Camp Lejeune attorney fees should be limited pursuant to the “spirit” of the bill.

In any event, Fob James Law Firm honors the FTCA and original version of the CLJA, thus our Camp Lejeune attorney fees are limited to 20% or 25% of the total amount recovered.

The Government Says Camp Lejeune Attorney Fees Are Capped at 20% or 25%

In September 2023, the government announced that attorney fees are capped under the Elective Option.

Likewise, the government reiterated on its webiste that attorney fees are capped with any judgment or settlement process.

Attorney Fees Are 20-25% Under the Elective Option

The JAG and DOJ released guidance on attorney fees for settlements under the Elective Option (EO). The EO is a voluntary settlement process for a limited number of claims.

According to the Navy and DOJ, attorney fees for EO settlements are capped at 20-25% pursuant to the FTCA:

Attorney fees under the Elective Option

Attorney Fees Are 20-25% With Any Camp Lejeune Settlement or Judgment

The Department of Justice states on it Camp Lejeune website that the attorney fee caps apply to any judgment or settlement, not just the Elective Option:

Department of Justice Camp Lejeune Attorney Fees Capped

The DOJ’s filed a Statement of Interest with the Court on October 27, 2023 to further argue its position.

Accordingly, the Navy and DOJ will most likely include an attorney fee cap condition on future settlements made with the federal government.

May 9, 2024 Update – The DOJ Reiterates the Government’s Stance

The DOJ suggested in a joint status report that some Plaintiff firms are complaining about the government’s stance that attorney fees should be capped at 20-25%.

The DOJ believes the Court clarifying the attorney fee issue would facilitate the settement process.

Need Help With Your Camp Lejeune Claim? Schedule Your Free Consultation Today.

20-25% Contingency Fee For Camp Lejeune Claims Is Reasonable

Aside from the FTCA, Camp Lejeune Justice Act claimants with presumed conditions should not be charged a 40% contingency fee. In the typical toxic tort case, liability and medical causation are heavily disputed. The burden is on the plaintiff to prove that the toxic substance at issue caused the injury.

In order to prove the toxin is dangerous, plaintiff attorneys must hire expensive experts. Likewise, in order to prove the toxin caused the alleged injury, plaintiff attorneys must retain medical causation experts (e.g. Doctors) that relate the injury to the toxic substance.

Well funded corporate defendants hire their own expensive experts to rebut the plaintiff’s experts. This process is very costly and time consuming as is the discovery process required to obtain the information needed to prove the case by a preponderance of the evidence.

For many Camp Lejeune cases, liability and medical causation are well established. Studies have been administered by private groups and government agencies reflecting a causal connection between the water and a myriad of illnesses. The VA has found that various injuries are “service connected” as a direct result of the toxic water exposure.

For cases where liability has not been conceded, the CLJA requires a lower burden of proof than conventional negligence cases. Simply put, there is less workup required to prosecute many Camp Lejeune claims, especially those that have presumptive conditions. As a result, Fob James Law Firm believes that a fee percentage of 20% or 25% is fair and reasonable.

Legislators and Veteran Groups Are Seeking An Amendment To The Camp Lejeune Justice Act

Many law firms are charging high fee percentages because they are spending millions of dollars in advertising. Also, many law firms are referring cases to other law firms that will actually do the work.

These law firms must charge higher legal fees to recoup marketing costs or to compensate multiple law firms.

Due to the exorbitant fees charged by some law firms, legislators are considering legislation capping attorney fees for CLJA claims.

Fee Cap Proposals in the House of Representatives

On December 6, 2022, Rep. Mike Bost, R-IL., along with Rep. Darrell Issa, R-CA and eight others introduced legislation in the House of Representatives to cap Camp Lejeune lawyer fees at 25%. This legislation tracks the fee caps under the FTCA and the fees charged by Fob James Law Firm.

On February 28, 2023, Reps. Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.) and Mark Takano (Calif.) introduced a bill that would limit attorney fees to 20% of a settlement reached within 180 days of presenting a claim to the JAG. If the claim did not settle within 180 days, the attorney’s fee would be limited to 33.33%.

As of September 2023, no bill has been presented for a vote. Efforts to pass legislation in the House have stalled.

Fee Cap Proposals in the Senate

Through the Protect Camp Lejeune VETS Act, Senator Sullivan has proposed fee caps of 12% if the case is administratively resolved or 17% if a lawsuit is filed. This proposal is endorsed by the American Legion and co-sponsored by 13 other senators.

On the other hand, Senator Durbin has indicated he will propose fee caps of 20% if the case is administratively resolved or 33.33% if a lawsuit is filed.

We believe that if a fee cap amendment is passed, the fee caps will fall somewhere in between Senator Sullivan and Senator Durbin’s proposals (e.g. 25%).

As of October 2023, no legislation has been presented for a vote. Like in the House, efforts to pass legislation in the Senate have stalled.

Legislators such as Senator Sullivan appear to be relying on the Department of Justice to advocate and enforce attorney fee caps through the legal system.

What Are the Presumptive Conditions for Camp Lejeune Claims?

In the disability context, a presumptive condition is a disease the Department of Veteran Affairs believes was likely caused by certain exposure during the veteran’s active duty service.

A presumptive condition is typically supported by scientific evidence and peer reviewed medical studies that relate the disease to a specific exposure during military service.

The VA’s Presumptive Conditions

For Camp Lejeune water contamination claims, the VA has conceded that the following diseases are presumed to have been caused by 30 days or more of exposure to the toxic water at Camp Lejeune between August 1, 1953, to December 31, 1987:

  • Adult leukemia
  • Liver cancer
  • Bladder cancer
  • Aplastic anemia
  • Kidney cancer
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Multiple myeloma

This list is not exhaustive as it is in context of a veteran’s disability claim related to toxic water exposure.

However, the list also applies to a victim pursuing a claim under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act. A claimant with one of the diseases above will have a very strong case because the government has already conceded that a causal relationship exists between the disease and exposure to the toxic water.

Presumptive Conditions Under The Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012

Many non-veterans were exposed to the toxic water, including family members that lived on base. For this reason, the government passed the Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012.

This law requires the Department of Veteran Affairs to provide health care to Veterans who served on active duty at Camp Lejeune and to reimburse eligible Camp Lejeune family members for health care costs related to the following 15 specified illnesses or medical conditions:

  • Bladder cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Female infertility
  • Hepatic steatosis
  • Kidney cancer
  • Leukemia
  • Lung cancer
  • Miscarriage (while at Camp Lejeune)
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Myelodysplastic syndromes
  • Neurobehavioral effects
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Renal toxicity
  • Scleroderma

The Camp Lejeune Families Act not only includes five of the VA’s eight presumptive diseases, but also ten additional illnesses such as cancers of the breast, esophagus and lungs.

Accordingly, claimants with illnesses covered under the Camp Lejeune Families Act may also have strong claims and arguably have “presumptive conditions”.

In any event, Fob James Law Firm charges every Camp Lejeune client the same attorney fees. We do not charge clients with a “non-VA-presumed condition” a different fee structure than clients with a “VA-presumed condition”.

Other Conditions Linked to Contaminants in the Water at Camp Lejeune

In addition to the presumptive conditions under the VA and Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012, many other conditions could be caused by the toxic water at Camp Lejeune.

In fact, the JAG’s claim form lists conditions beyond those that the VA deems presumptive. Most notably, the claim form includes boxes for “other kidney diseases”, “cardiac defect”, and “Other (Please explain)”.

The medical evidence connecting the toxic water to various diseases continues to evolve, especially with respect to neurological conditions. Below are conditions that, according to various studies and medical research, may be caused by the toxic water:

  • ALS (LOU GERHIG’S DISEASE)
  • BIRTH DEFECTS AND INJURIES
  • BRAIN DAMAGE
  • BRAIN CANCER
  • FATTY LIVER DISEASE
  • HEPATIC STEATOSIS
  • NEUROBEHAVIORAL EFFECTS
  • UTERINE CANCER
  • PARKINSONIAN SYNDROME
  • RENAL TOXICITY
  • OTHER CANCERS
  • OTHER NEUROLOGICAL DISEASES

If you have not been diagnosed with a “presumptive condition”, do not assume that you do not have a case. Contact Fob James Law Firm for a free consultation and case review with an experienced attorney.

When Will The Camp Lejeune Lawsuit Be Settled?

The Camp Lejeune litigation is the early stage of the discovery and bellwether trial process. The diseases are currently in the process of being grouped into separate “tracks”. Each track will have its own discovery and scheduling order.

Track 1 is currently underway, and it appears the “bellwether” trials will begin in early 2025. A bellwether is a test trial that in theory should put pressure on the government to start settling claim or else risk large verdicts.

The Court recently selected the five diseases for Track 2. It should be selecting diseases for Track 3 in the near future. Those tracks will have their own scheduling orders and trial dates.

For cases that meet the criteria under the Elective Option, the government will make offers on its own time. The government must first determine that a case qualifies under the EO before making an offer. Since we are dealing with the government, this process will take time.

Most cases do not qualify for the Elective Option and many that do will not settle due to the EO’s low settlement offers. As a result, the majority of cases will settle through the litigation.

This is completely speculative but for most cases we believe the time frame for settlement could be 1-2 years. Some cases that are not “presumed conditions” could take longer. Although several years sounds like a long time, this is standard for large consolidated mass tort litigation.

Read our blog for the latest news and updates on the Camp Lejeune litigation.

Contact Fob James Law Firm If You Need Help With Your Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Claim

Fob James Law Firm is honored to represent veterans and their families all over the country in connection with their Camp Lejeune claims. We currently represent clients in 49 states and counting as of June 2024.

Regardless of where you reside, all Camp Lejeune claims are initially filed with the Office of the JAG. If the claim is not resolved administratively, lawsuits are filed in federal court in North Carolina.

If you would like to discuss a Camp Lejeune claim, please call us toll free at (833) 684-0503. You can also reach out online today for a free, no-obligation consultation.

Author Photo

Fob James

Fob James obtained a B.S., in software engineering from Auburn University and then continued his education by getting his J.D. from Vanderbilt University School of Law. After working for a large regional firm for several years where he obtained awards for both individual and corporate clients, Fob found that his passion was fighting for individuals who have been seriously injured or wronged by others. Fob believes that the jury is the great equalizer to the power and influence that large corporations have in society.