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This article provides the latest updates on the Camp Lejeune lawsuit.

Fob James Law Firm represents veterans and their families all over the country with their Camp Lejeune water contamination claims. We currently have clients in 48 states and counting as of December 2023.

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

If you would like to speak to our Camp Lejeune lawyers, fill out our confidential intake form or call 866-837-1010.

Throughout the Camp Lejeune claims process, we will post the latest news and updates here. Our last Camp Lejeune lawsuit update was posted on June 12, 2024. 

June 12, 2024 – Process Established for Picking Tack 1 Cases for Trial

The Court approved the parties’ joint motion establishing the process for picking the first Track 1 cases for trial. The Plainitff Leadership will select three cases for each Track 1 disease. The DOJ will select two cases for each Track 1 disease. The selected Plaintiffs must waive any non-Track 1 diseases. For example, if a selected Plainitff has kidney cancer (track 1 disease) and prostate cancer, the plaintiff must be willing to proceed only as to the kidney cancer. Based on the current discovery schedule, it looks like the first Track 1 trial will begin in 2025.

June 2, 2024 – August 10 Deadline Is Approaching

We have been surprised how many people this late in the game have been calling us with Camp Lejeune claims. It seems alot of folks were on the fence for various reasons and now have decided to file a claim.

Please be aware that the deadline to file a claim with the JAG is August 10, 2024. If you have not already filed a claim please contact an attorney ASAP. Do not wait until the last minute. For instance, wrongful death cases require opening an estate and getting a personal representative appointed by the probate court. This process can easily take a couple months.

May 28, 2024 – General Update on the Camp Lejeune Litigation

If you are looking for a general overview (as of May 2024) of what’s been happening the Camp Lejeune litigation, below is a good starting point:

  1. Track 1 Bellwether Trials. As previously mentioned, there are 100 Track 1 “test” cases being prepared for trial. Track 1 cases consist of the following conditions: Bladder Cancer, Kidney Cancer, Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Leukemia, and Parkinson’s Disease.  Right now, that is the primary focus of this litigation, since the outcome of these test trials will influence the ultimate amount of the settlements and therefore impact all claimants in the Camp Lejeune litigation. The “fact discovery” process for these 100 cases ends next month (e.g., depositions of plaintiffs and plaintiffs’ treating physicians, answers to parties’ written questions, etc.). After that, we will shift to the expert component of the 100 Track 1 Bellwether cases and then trial. Our hope is that these first 100 trials will take place either later this year or in the first part of 2025, but we do not have trial dates yet.
  2. Track 2 Bellwether Cases. As a reminder, Track 2 cases consist of the following conditions:  Kidney disease, Breast cancer, Liver cancer, Prostate cancer, and Lung cancer. The selection process for Track 2 bellwether cases is underway. Similar to Track 1, 100 test cases for Track 2 will be selected.
  3. Track 3 Cases and Beyond. These tracks will be comprised of other injuries not included in Tracks 1 and 2. These injuries have not yet been decided by the Court. Keep in mind that the “track” does not have anything to do with the value or merit of a case. The Court is simply trying to litigate the categories of injuries/diseases with the most possible claimants first, in order to reduce the overall number of claimants in the litigation. Also, it’s possible that settlement offers will be made prior to Tracks 2 or 3 even making it to trial. Time will tell how this ultimately plays out, but we are hopeful that the Track 1 Bellwether trials will have a positive impact on the litigation and increase the prospects of an early global settlement.
  4. Jury Trials. Earlier this year the EDNC Federal Court struck plaintiffs’ demand for jury trials. The plaintiff leadership group attempted to immediately appeal the Court’s decision, but the Court ruled that any appeal must wait until after the first round of bench trials take place. Note, a “bench trial” is simply when the judge makes the decisions rather than a jury. Although we would prefer to have jury trials in this litigation (because jury trials typically result in larger verdicts than bench trials), bench trials do provide some advantages in this type of litigation, particularly in terms of predictability on the amount of damages awarded at trial. For example, if a judge rules that a certain category of injuries (e.g., Kidney Cancer or Parkinson’s) are worth between $2 and 5 million dollars at trial, that will be a good indicator of what those cases would be worth if the same type of case goes to trial before that particular judge. Every case is obviously unique/different, but bench trials are still far more predicable than if 12 strangers off the street were to rule on the case (e.g., one jury could award $20 million dollars on a case and a different jury could award $0 on the same case). If the bench verdicts seem unreasonably low or unfair, we have no doubt that the bench verdicts will be appealed.
  5. Other Issues. Lastly, there are numerous motions pending before the Court that are waiting to be ruled on. Among other things, these pending motions include plaintiffs’ motion for partial summary judgment on specific causation, plaintiffs’ motion to expedite track one trials, and plaintiffs’ motion for reconsideration denying motion to compel muster rolls and ATSDR study. Once these motions are ruled on by the EDNC federal court judges, we will post updates here.

May 13, 2024 – Counrt Denies Request to Certify Jury Trial Issue for Appeal

We blogged several months ago about Plaintiffs’ motion to certify the jury trial issue for appeal. To recap, the Court ruled Plaintiffs do not have a right to a jury trial. In order to appeal the issue, Plaintiffs first have to get permission from the Court because the appeal is unrelated to a final judgment.

The Court denied Plaintiffs’ request to certify the jury trial issue for appeal. The Court’s logic is that there are no “special consequences” if the Court is wrong at this stage. The Court said that Plaintiffs can file an appeal after bench trials.

The problem with this approach is that if the appelate court reverses after bench trials, alot of time, cost, and energy will have been wasted in cases where the plaintiffs wish to have their cases retried with juries.

May 3, 2024 – Plaintiffs File Motion On Personal Representative Issue

Plaintiff Leadership filed a motion for summary judgment asking the Court to rule the following representatives are qualified to bring wrongful death cases under the CLJA:

  • Out-of-state personal representatives appointed by the Probate Court in Onslow County, NC
  • Legal representatives or heirs who have the right in their respect states to bring wrongful death claims without having to open an estate

This motion is very important. The JAG/DOJ’s position has been that only a personal representative recognized by a Probate Court has legal standing to file a wrongful death claim.

Inititially, their position was that people who resided outside of North Carolina had to open an estate in their home state and also an ancillary estate in North Carolina. The Court shot this down several months ago, ruling that an ancillary estate in North Carolina was not required to file a claim. But many questions remain, which is what the PLG’s motion attempts to resolve.

Onslow County’s Probate Court has a streamlined process for out-of-state folks to be appointed personal representive. For many people, the process in Onslow County is much easier than opening an estate in their home state. Based on the Court’s ruling in the ancillary estate issue, we beleive the Court will rule that the Onslow County process is sufficient.

Some states like California have laws that allow certain family members to bring wrongful death cases without the burden of opening an estate. If the Court rules that residents of such states need not open an estate, the process to file a wrongful death claim will be much easier.

One big issue is the timing of the motion. With the filing deadline of August 10, 2024 approaching, it remains to be seen what will happen if the Court rules on the motion after or near the deadline.

May 1, 2024- PLG Responds to the DOJ’s Motion to Delay Multi-Disease Trials

We blogged on April 12th about the DOJ’s motion to delay Track 1 trials for plaintiffs with multi-diseases. The PLG opposes that motion and asks the Court to allow the parties to meet and confer on the bellwether selection trial process.

The PLG’s even handed approach makes sense. If the parties conferred, they may agree on many of the cases that should be scheduled first.

The PLG also points out that the DOJ has had plenty of time to do disocvery on multi-diseases plaintiffs. Also, rougly half of the filed cases involve multi-disease plaintiffs. If the goal of bellwethers is to resolve as many cases as possible, then multi-disease cases have to be tried.

Finally, the PLG makes a good point that the DOJ’s motion is premature. Until the Court lays out the process for Bellwether trials, it is too early to make selections. For example, will multiple cases be tried at once?

April 18, 2024DOJ Asks Court to Reconsider Track 2 Opt Outs

A few months ago, the Court denied the DOJ’s request to remove “opts outs” from discovery track process. Currently, Plaintiffs can elect to opt their filed cases out of the discovery track process.

The DOJ argues that the “opt out” process gives the Plaintiffs an unfair advange in that they are allegedly opting out weak cases and stacking the discovery track pool with stronger cases.

The DOJ filed a motion asking the Court to reconsider allowing opt outs for Track 2 selections. You can read the DOJ’s motion here.

April 12, 2024 – DOJ Files Motion To Delay Trials for Multi-Disease Track 1 Cases

The DOJ filed a motion asking the Court to priortize single disease Track 1 cases when scheduling track 1 trials. Basically, the DOJ wants trials for single disease track 1 cases to be scheduled before multi-disease cases (ones where the plaintiff has a track 1 disease as well as a non-track 1 disease).

The DOJ argues it needs more time to get ready for multi-disease trials. Hog wash. If this were true the DOJ should have filed this motion months ago. The reality is some of the strongest cases are multi-diseaes cases (e.g. kidney cancer +kidney disease). The DOJ’s request is based on what is convenient for them and limiting the number of cases that can be set for trial first.

April 2, 2024 – Joint Status Conference Held

Another joint status conference was held today. Status conferences are way for the Court to monitor the progress of the litigation and to be aware of pending issues.

There is no new information to report. The parties discusses several discovery issues. The Court scheduled the next status conference on April 24th.

March 28, 2024 – DOJ’s Position on Attorney Fee Caps

The DOJ posted on its Camp Lejeune website that attorney fee caps of 20-25% apply to any settlement or judgment:

Camp Lejeune Attorney Fees

What does everyone think?

March 26, 2024 – New Joint Status Report Filed

The Parties filed another joint status report before the next status conference. The report is very similar to the one filed on March 15th.

The government is currently scheduling and taking the discovery track plaintiffs’ depositions. Depositions for 98 discovery track plaintiffs have been scheduled.

The government’s “Elective Option” settlement process is pretty much non existent. The government has settled less than 50 cases out of over 176,000 claims. Something has to give. Or else it will take thousands of years to settle claims. Hopefully the test trials will make a difference.

On March 1st, the Navy began to load claim files to an online portal system. So far the Navy has loaded half of the existing CLJA claims inventory into the claims management system. Presumably, law firms will be able to acess the the claim system to review and verify claim information.

March 15, 2024 – Parties File Joint Status Report

The parties filed a joint status report prior to the upcoming status conference. Approximately 175,000 claims have been filed with the JAG. A total of 1633 lawsuits have been filed in the EDNC.

The Navy is in the process of loading claim information into an online portal. Presumbaly, law firms and pro se claimaints will be able to review and validate their claim information.

We are asked all the time about the government’s “settlement process”. Again, the government’s settlement criteria is very strict, so very few cases qualify. Case in point, out of 175,000 claims, the Navy’s Tort Branch has settled 24 cases and the DOJ has settled 18 cases. These numbers are statistically insignificant. At this pace, it will take 100 years to resolve these cases.

On that note, the Parties continue to negotiate a resolution questionnaire and resolution roadmap. On January 16, 2024, the parties jointly recommended Tom Perrelli of Jenner & Block to serve as Special Settlement Master. Hopefully progress will be made on a real settlement process the closer we get to Track 1 trials.

Depositions for Track 1 discovery pool plaintiffs are underway. 95 out of 99 plaintiff depositions have been scheduled. We will be in Portland, Oregon in mid April for the deposition of one of our discovery track clients.

March 14, 2024Court Compels Government To Produce Water Modeling Files

The Plaintiffs asked the Court to compel the government to produce the Water Modeling Project Files created by the ATSDR. These documents include surveys of water systems and GIS maps relevant to the toxic water.

The parties could not reach an agreement on the format the files should be produced in. The Court ruled that the government must produce the files in native format. Native format means the format which the application is designed to work with. In other words, the government does not have to change the format of the files to accomodate Plaintiffs’ desired system. It just has to produce the files in their native format.

March 10, 2024 – Plaintiffs’ Motion to Compel Digital Muster Rolls Denied as Moot

Plaintiffs’ leadership filed a motion to compel asking the Court to order the government to produce digitized copies of “muster rolls”. These rolls are important because they contain housing records. In many cases, the muster rolls are the only documents that exist reflecting that an individual was on base (and where). The Court denied Plaintiffs’ motion as moot because it found that the government does not have digitized records in its possession. The government has agreed to produce the muster rolls in their current format (e.g. micro film, hard copies). The Court finds this to be sufficient. The Court notes that a party is only obligated to produce documents that are already in existence.

March 1, 2024 – No Ancillary Estate In North Carolina Required

In wrongful death cases, the DOJ argued that personal representatives for out-of-state estates must open an estate in their home state and an ancillary estate in North Carolina. This would impose a massive burden and cost on claimants who wish to pursue a wrongful death claim. Of course, this was the DOJ’s intention, to impose a burden on folks to deter them from pursuing wrong death cases.

Fortunately, the Court ruled that out of state claimants who open an estate in their home states do not need to open a second “ancillary estate” in North Carolina. This is good news as it helps streamline the process for wrongful death cases.

February 27, 2024 – EDNC Judges Select 5 Diseases for Track 2 Discovery

The Court entered a much anticipated order listing the five diseases for the Track 2 discovery. The five Track 2 diseases are:

  • prostate cancer
  • kidney disease
  • lung cancer
  • liver cancer
  • breast cancer

Liver cancer is the only Track 2 disease that is on the VA’s list of “presumed conditions”. We think the Judges selected diseases that represent the most commonly filed claims.

The order notes that “the selection focuses on illnesses for which early trials may help promote an early resolution for common illnesses.”

Like Track 1, the Track 2 process will inlclude the selection of cases for the discovery pool followed by a scheduling order.

Finally, the Court directs the parties to submit a proposed discovery plan for the Track 2 illnesses within 10 days of the order.

February 18, 2024 – Plaintiffs Attempt to Appeal Court’s Jury Trial Ruling

The Plaintiff Leadership Group (PLG) intends to appeal the Court’s ruling that plaintiffs are not entitled to a jury trial under the CLJA. PLG asked the Court to certify the issue for an appeal. If the Court certifies the issue, which we think they will, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit will ultimately decide the issue.

We are pleased that Leadership is trying to appeal this ruling. Could this appeal delay the litigaiotn? Yes, but we think any delay is worth it. PLG is going about it strategically. By filing on behalf of only two plaintiffs, PLG will argue that the appeal should not stay the entire litigation. However, the appellate Court’s ruling will impact all cases, not just the two plaintiffs that are seeking to appeal.

February 7, 2024 – Court Rules No Jury Trials

The Court ruled that Camp Lejeune victims are not entitled to a jury trial under the CLJA. There is no way to sugar coat this decision–it is a huge loss for the plaintiffs.

The Court’s order is concerning because the Camp Lejeune Justice Act states: “Nothing in this subsection shall impair the right of any party to a trial by jury.” Seems pretty clear to us that if the CLJA did not allow jury trials then this language would not be in the statute.

Nevertheless, the Court ruled that the text of the CLJA did not grant the right to a jury trial and that under the law, plaintiffs with claims against the federal government do not get jury trials.

We are hopeful that Plaintiff Leadership will file an appeal. The downside is this will cause further delays. However, this is such a fundamental issue we believe pursuing an appeal is worth any delays.

If the ruling stands, the practical implication is that the Judges will have a lot more control over the litigation and value of the cases. For example, the Judges could group cases together and have bench trials in bulk. The Judges will get to decide damages in these bench trials and this will set a predictable measure of damages for any future bench trials. If the parties know the range of damages the Judges will award in bench trials, then the cases have to settle for some amount in that range. What this ruling does is take away the threat of “nuclear verdicts” awarded by juries.

February 6, 2014 – Our General Thoughts on the Status of the Camp Lejeune Litigation

The “Track 1” discovery process is well underway. Again, the Court has already designated kidney cancer, bladder cancer, Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Parkinson’s disease, and leukemia as Track 1 discovery/bellwether cases. Written discovery has been served and most of the Track 1 plaintiff depositions have been scheduled. Compared to most other national/multi-district litigations, this one is moving along pretty fast.

The current list of “Track 2” and “Track 3” cases has not been finalized, but we expect the Court to rule on the proposed list of Track 2-3 conditions soon. Track 2 conditions being proposed by the Plaintiff Leadership Group include:

  • liver cancer
  • sclerosis/scleroderma
  • multiple myeloma
  • kidney disease
  • aplastic anemia

On the other hand, Track 2 conditions being proposed by the Government include:

  • prostate cancer
  • breast cancer
  • lung cancer
  • pancreatic cancer
  • esophageal cancer

The Plaintiff Leadership Group believes the government’s proposed list of Track 2 conditions is better suited for Track 3, with the exception of childhood leukemia substituted for pancreatic cancer.

Our hope remains that the first round of “real” settlement offers will be made following the Track 1 bellwether trials. At the moment, we are still being told these trials will take place in 2024, although whether that actually happens remains to be seen. As you all know, there are no certainties when the government will ultimately decide to act.

Lastly, there are several pending motions filed with the Court, including a partial motion for summary judgment filed by the Plaintiffs and a motion to strike the jury trials filed by the DOJ. The Court’s rulings on these motions will have a big impact on how the litigation plays out.

February 5, 2024 – Court Enters Track 1 Scheduling Order

The Court entered a scheduling order for cases that are part of the Track 1 discovery pool. The order sets important discovery deadlines, including the following:

  • March 19, 2024 – deadline for Track 1 plaintiffs to submit Discovery Pool Profile Forms
  • June 17, 2024 – discovery cut off date
  • July 17, 2024 – deadline for Track 1 plaintiffs to disclose expert witnesses
  • August 16, 2024 – deadline for defendant to disclose expert witnesses
  • August 31, 2024 – deadline for Track 1 plaintiffs to disclose any rebuttal expert witnesses
  • September 30, 2024 – closure of expert discovery (e.g., expert depositions must be complete)
  • October 30, 2024 – deadline to file dispostive motions

Notably missing from the scheduling order are trial dates. However, the order does state that the parties should be prepared to start trials in 2024.

Based on this schedule we believe the chance of jury trials commencing in 2024 is unlikely. Assuming there are no continuances or delays, discovery will end September 30th and dispositive motions will be filed on October 30th. Thereafter, the Court will have to set hearings for the motions and rule on them. This does not leave much time to realistically conduct trials in 2024.

February 1, 2024 – ATSDR Releases New Study

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) released a study this week about the toxic water exposure at Camp Lejeune. In short, the study compared approximately 400,000 service members and members of their families who were diagnosed with cancer or similar conditions. Half of the individuals were stationed at Camp Lejeune and the other half were stationed at Camp Pendleton from the mid-1970’s to mid-1980’s.

The study found that the group stationed at Camp Lejeune had about a 20% greater risk of developing certain types of cancer and other serious medical conditions including:

  • kidney cancer
  • kidney disease
  • bladder cancer
  • liver cancer
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • multiple myeloma, leukemia
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • systematic sclerosis.

Notably, the study also discovered that the group at Camp Lejeune experienced an increased risk of certain types of lung cancers, esophageal/throat/thyroid cancers, myeloid cancers, myelodysplastic syndromes, male breast cancer, and polycythemia vera (a type of blood cancer).

A copy of the study is available here.

January 23, 2024 – Plaintiffs Ask The Court for Expedited and Consolidated Trials

Prior to the settlement conference this week with Judge Boyle, Plaintiff Leadership (“PLG”) filed a “Rule 16 Statement” with the Court. In this statement, PLG asks Judge Boyle to consider consolidating the 29 discovery track cases on his docket into 5 separate trials. Each trial would involve a different disease. E.g., the kidney cancer trial would include 8 plaintiffs, the bladder cancer trial would include 6 plaintiffs, etc.

PLG also asks the Court to enter a pre-trial directive that causation is presumed for Track 1 diseases. Further, PLG requests that the Court enter a directive stating that the chemicals (benzene, TCE, PCE, and vinyl chloride) were in the water at Camp Lejeune during the relevant time period.

Finally, PLG estimates that each trial would last 5-8 days. PLG’s goal here is to expedite the discovery track process. We’ll see what Judge Boyle thinks about the proposal.

January 19, 2024 – Court Approves One of Our Cases for the Track 1 Bellwether Process

The Court entered an order today approving one of our firm’s cases for the Track 1 Bellwether process. This is a tremendous honor as very few firms outside of the Plaintiff Leadership/Executive Committees have bellwether cases. Frankly, we had to fight just to get one.

Track 2 bellwether selections will likely occur in the near future once the Court has determined which diseases will be in Track 2.

January 18, 2024 – Status and Settlement Conferences Scheduled Next Week

The next status conference is set for January 23rd in Wilmington, NC. A settlement conference is also set for January 24th in Raleigh. The settlement conference is limited to 40 filed cases that are on Judge Boyles’ docket. Judge Boyle is probably looking for an update on the likelihood that any of these cases on his docket will settle.

January 17, 2024 – Plaintiffs File Motion for Partial Summary Judgment

Plaintiffs’ Leadership filed a motion for partial summary judgment on the issue of causation. In regular tort cases, the burden is on the Plaintiff to prove that his or her injury was caused by the toxic substance. This analysis is specific to each Plaintiff and typically specific causation is proved through medical expert testimony,

Leadership’s motion argues that claimants under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act do not have to prove that the water was the specific cause of their individual injury. Rather, Leadership argues that under the law. claimants merely need to show that the water is likely to have caused their injury, which can be done by showing that the claimant was on base for 30 or more days.

If Leadership’s motion is granted by the Court, this would be an enormous victory for the victims. I would also simplify the claims process. The DOJ will of course fight this motion tooth and nail. Time will tell.

January 10, 2024 – Status Conference Update

Fob James and co-counsel, James Foster, attended the Tuesday morning status conference in Raleigh, NC. The status conference was in front of Magistrate Judge Robert B. Jones, Jr.

It was not as eventful as flying out of Raleigh in inclement weather that afternoon. Judge Jones first asked the parties for a list of pending motions. Next, counsel for the parties informed the Court they are working toward resolving much of the current documentary discovery disputes and to hold off on ruling on the pending motion to compel.

Finally, Judge Jones asked counsel for the DOJ and PLG if our firm’s 17 cases that are tentatively selected for the discovery track would be included in the Plaintiffs’ forthcoming discovery responses and production. The answer is yes.

January 3, 2024 – Parties Filed Joint Status Report

As required before the next status conference, the parties filed their first Joint Status Report of 2024. This status report is similar to the prior report filed in December.

The crux of it is the parties are fighting over various discovery issues such as the location of plaintiffs’ depositions. In any event, discovery is moving forward in the discovery pool cases. The plaintiffs are currently working on responding to the DOJ’s discovery requests.

The parties have been unable to agree on a process for global settlement. As a result, the parties are exploring the use of a Special Master to help resolve issues regarding the global settlement process.

The most interesting part of the report is the estimated number proposed Track 2 claims that are eligible to be filed. The Court has yet to decide which diseases will be in Track 2. Per the Court’s request, the parties’ estimated number of proposed Track 2 claims (eligible to be filed) are listed below:

Number of eligible claims

December 28, 2023 – The Parties Submit Proposed Diseases For Track III

The Plaintiffs’ Leadership Group (PLG) and DOJ filed their proposed diseases for Track III.

The DOJ has proposed the following diseases for Track III:

  • any of the 5 diseases which were not selected from the DOJ’s proposed diseases for Track II: (1) prostate cancer, (2) breast cancer, (3) lung cancer, (4) pancreatic cancer, and (5) esophageal cancer.
  • “medical monitoring” cases which is where the claimant alleges an increased risk of being diagnosed with a disease in the future.
  • and any of the following: cervical cancer; (2) miscarriage; (3) non-cardiac birth defects; (4) neurobehavioral effects

On the other hand, the PLG proposed the following diseases for Track III:

  • any of Plaintiff’s proposed selection for Track II diseases that are not selected for Track II: liver cancer, sclerosis / scleroderma, multiple myeloma, kidney disease (i.e., end-stage renal disease, chronic kidney disease, increased kidney weight, or increased urinary protein tubular toxicity), and aplastic anemia.
  • any of Defendants’ proposed Track II diseases, but substitute “childhood leukemia” for “pancreatic cancer.”

The Court will consider the proposals and ultimately make the call.

December 26, 2023 – Status Conference Set for January 9, 2024

The first status conference in 2024 is scheduled for January 9th. Attorneys Fob James and James Foster will be in attendance. We will post an update after the conference.

December 22, 2023 – Judge Orders Plaintiffs to Disclose Their DOB and SSN

Magistrate Judge Robert B. Jones, Jr. granted the DOJ’s motion to compel, which sought Plaintiff’s social security numbers and dates of birth.

According to Judge Jones’ order, Plaintiffs must disclose their social security number and date of birth to the DOJ within 20 days after the filing of a Short Form Complaint (SFC), unless otherwise in the DOJ’s possession. Plaintiffs that have already SFC’s must provide this information within 20 days of the order.

Although this ruling may be inconvenient, we do not think it is a big deal because the government would eventually get this information in discovery anyway.

December 14, 2023 – Parties File Joint Status Report

Per Case Management Order #2 (CMO-2), the parties filed a joint status report updating the Court on discovery, administrative, and scheduling matters. Below are highlights from the report.

  • 1,471 Camp Lejeune lawsuits have been filed. 147,428 administrative claims have been filed with JAG.
  • Plaintiffs are still trying to obtain documents possessed by Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (“ATSDR”) that are related to Lejeune. Plaintiffs have filed a motion asking the Court to order the production of these documents.
  • The DOJ has filed a motion asking the Court to order the Plaintiffs to disclose their social security number and Date of Birth. The DOJ argues this will help them investigate the claims.
  • Plaintiffs have deposed representatives with U.S. Marine Corps, VA and ATSDR.
  • The parties are fighting over the DOJ’s selection of 16 cases for the Discovery Pool. Plaintiffs’ Leadership argues these 16 cases were not eligible for the discovery pool. The DOJ argues these cases are eligible because they were opted back in the discovery pool before the deadline.
  • Per the DOJ, it has qualified only 26 cases for the Elective Option. So far only two cases have settled through the EO.

December 6, 2023 – Plaintiffs / DOJ File List of Track 1 Discovery Cases

The Plaintiffs’ Leadership and the DOJ each selected 50 cases for Track 1 discovery. These cases will be set for trial in the future and discovery will begin. Again, the five diseases in Track 1 and the selected cases involve:

  • bladder cancer
  • parkinson’s disease
  • kidney cancer
  • leukemia
  • non hodgkin lymphoma

The purpose of the selected cases is to represent the class of similar plaintiffs (e.g., kidney cancer with three years of exposure at Camp Lejeune). If the case tries, the theory is the verdict will serve as a barometer for other similar cases. This is why we call it a Bellwether (aka test trial).

Plaintiffs’ Leadership primarily selected plaintiffs represented by the firms in the Plaintiffs’ Executive or Steering committees.

Around half of the cases selected by the DOJ did not involve cases filed by firms in the Plaintiffs’ Executive or Steering committees. The DOJ selected several Pro Se cases. Pro Se means the Plaintiff is representing himself or herself and not by counsel.

Interestingly, there were very few wrongful death cases selected by either side.

December 4, 2023 – Bellwether Selections Due Tomorrow

The Plaintiffs’ and DOJ’s Bellwether selections for Track 1 cases are due tomorrow. We will analyze the picks once they are filed.

December 1, 2023 – Plaintiffs Propose “Track 2” Illnesses

The Plaintiff Leadership Committee filed a Case Management Order (CMO) proposing the illnesses that should be included in “Track 2”. The proposed illnesses include: kidney disease, multiple myeloma, liver cancer, sclerosis/scleroderma, and a plastic anemia.

These five illnesses are among the government’s “presumed condition” list. Further, the ATSDR studies reflect a direct link between the water contamination and these illnesses.

Predictably, the DOJ filed a competing CMO proposing that non-presumed illnesses such as lung cancer sholuld be in Track 2. The DOJ’s strategy is obvious–it wants illnesses in Track 2 where the scientific evidence linking the toxic water is weaker and where they have stronger defenses (e.g. tobacco related cancers) at the Bellwether trials.

November 22, 2023DOJ Files Motion to Strike Jury Demand

Since the start, we have all been under the impression that the Camp Lejeune Justice Act (CLJA) includes the right to a jury trial. This is because the Act expressly states, “Nothing in this subsection shall impair any party’s right to a trial by jury.” We believe this language in the statute (along with the waiver of sovereign immunity) clearly provides for the right to a jury trial for everyone injured by the toxic water at Camp Lejeune.

Nonetheless, despite the clear language in the Act , the Department of Justice has taken the position that there is not an “express” right to a jury trial in the Act. In other words, the DOJ is claiming there is no “right” for anyone to have a jury trial under the Act. Yesterday, the DOJ filed a motion to “strike” the jury demand in our Complaint — which Plaintiffs intend to oppose. We do not believe the DOJ’s motion will be granted.

US Representative Matt Cartwright recently came out in support of the right to a jury trial, saying

“We fundamentally disagree with the [DOJ’s] position. When we drafted the Act, it was our clear, unambiguous, and unequivocal is the express intent to provide all those covered by the Act with the right to a trial by jury against the United States of America for the harm they suffered at Camp Lejeune.”

November 21, 2023 – Status Conference

A status conference was held today at the Eastern District of North Carolina federal courthouse in Wilmington before Magistrate Judge Robert B. Jones, Jr. Our co-counsel, James Foster, was in attendance along with several attorneys from the Plaintiffs’ leadership committee, including Ed Bell. Four attorneys from the Department of Justice were also in attendance. Below are highlights from the status conference:

Bellwether Trial Scheduling

There are several hundered cases being considered for the first round of Bellwether trials, 8 of which belong to our law firm. Currently, the plan is to select 100 of the 200 cases for the first round of trials (50 picked by Plaintiffs and 50 picked by the Government). However, during today’s hearing, Ed Bell informed the Court that Plaintiffs are requesting that they select 100 cases for Bellwether consideration (instead of 50).

We were told the plan is still for the first Bellwether trials to take place in the first half of 2024 although time will tell if that ends up happening. The trials will all take place in North Carolina (Raleigh, New Bern, Elizabeth City and Wilmington) before the four district court judges. We are hopeful that better settlement offers will follow the first round of Bellwether trials.

New Data From Toxic Water Studied Has Been Produced

We were informed by Ed Bell that the government produced 6 data sets last week which included data from toxic water studies performed at Camp Lejeune. The data was produced on Friday and over this past weekend, so it is still being analyzed. If there is anything new or worth mentioning from the data once it’s reviewed by the committee then we will post an update.

Update on Track 2 and 3 Cases

The deadline is next week for the parties to submit which cancers/diseases should be included in Tracks 2 and 3. We will post an update as these conditions are determined. As previously mentioned, the Track 2 and 3 discovery and Bellwether trials will follow the track 1 cases per the Court’s scheduling order.

The DOJ Is Withholding a New ATSDR Study

One of the most interesting topics discussed during the meeting was a new study on cancer and mortality rates related to the toxic water at Camp Lejeune conducted by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). The results have been described as “ground-breaking.” The author of the study acknowledged the report “should have been released by now.” So far, the government has refused to produce the study claiming it is still going through the peer review process, but Plaintiffs’ counsel are pushing them to produce it as soon as possible.

Settlement Status

As a reminder, the Elective Option (“EO”) settlement route is a fast-track settlement process for a select number of qualifying claimants. The government has extended approximately 30 settlement offers through the EO process to date. Only 4 of these settlement offers were accepted. At the hearing, the government said they anticipate making a “significant” number of additional EO offers in the coming months. As previously advised, we do not recommend these offers for the majority of our clients, as they appear lower than what is deserved for these claims in our opinion.

We were told at the hearing that the Navy will be implementing a new online system in January 2024 which we were told will help to streamline the settlement process.

There have been discussions between both sides about a larger “matrix”/grid which will eventually be used to settle a significant number of cases. Our hope is that the matrix/grid for track one cases will be finalized shortly after the first round of Bellwether trials.

November 3, 2023 Track 1 Cases and Bellwether Selection

The Judges in the Eastern District of NC have designated five diseases as “Track 1” cases. The Track 1 diseases are:

  • kidney cancer
  • parkinson’s disease
  • non hodkin lymphoma
  • bladder cancer
  • leukemia

The plaintiffs are currently selecting their best Track 1 cases for “bellwethers”. A “bellwether” is a test trial that allows the parties to evaluate the strength and weaknesses of a case. Bellwethers also help set the value of cases through jury verdicts. Based on the CMO, Track 1 bellwether cases will likely be set for trial in 2024. Compared to a normal MDL, this litigation is moving at warp speed. Often, bellwethers are not set for trial until after years of litigation.

October 6, 2023 – Elective Option Deadline for Filed Cases

Today is the deadline for filed lawsuits to qualify for the Elective Option. Any lawsuit filed after today will be deemed to have automatically opted out of the Elective Option. This is not a big deal for two reasons: (i) very few claims actually qualify for the EO; and (ii) the offers made under the EO are low.

October 1, 2023Bellwether Trials To Start In 2024

The Federal Judges presiding over the ligation entered a Case Management Order (CMO) requiring bellwether trials to begin next year. This is good news. These trials are test trials that in theory should put pressure on the government to start settling claim or else risk large jury verdicts. Camp Lejeune trials will be grouped into three different “tracks”. Track 1 will include cases involving non-Hodgkin lymphoma, Parkinson’s disease, kidney cancer, bladder cancer, and leukemia. The Court has not determined which injuries will be included in tracks 2 and 3.

September 25, 2023First Settlement Offer Received

We received a settlement offer from the DOJ under the Elective Option for the first time. The case was filed in federal court. We have not received any offers under the EO for claims that have merely been filed with the JAG.

September 19, 2023Elective Option Attorney Fees Capped

The Navy and DOJ updated their guidance to reflect that attorney fees for settlements under the Elective Option are capped at 20-25%. Read our article on attorney fees for more information.

September 7, 2023Elective Option Announced

Yesterday, the Navy and DOJ announced an expedited settlement process called the “Elective Option” for qualifying Camp Lejeune claims. The Elective Option is only available to a narrow subset of claims.

For in depth analysis, please read James Foster’s and Fob James’ blog breaking the Elective Option down. In summary, the EO is an attempt by the government to settle strong claims on the cheap.

Elective Option Settlement Amounts

Time at Lejeune30 to 364 Days1 year to 5 yearsMore than 5 years
Tier 1 Qualifying Injury$150,000$300,000$450,000
Tier 2 Qualifying Injury$100,000$250,000$400,000
The government will offer an additional $100,000 to Claimants with a Qualifying Injury that resulted in death.

Qualifying Injuries and Tiers Under the Elective Option

DiseaseQualifying Injury
Kidney CancerTier 1
Liver CancerTier 1
Non-Hodgkin LymphomaTier 1
LeukemiasTier 1
Bladder CancerTier 1
Multiple MyelomaTier 2
Parkinsons’s DiseaseTier 2
Kidney Disease / End State Renal DiseaseTier 2
Systemic Sclerosis / Systemic SclerodermaTier 2

For a full list of settlement amounts under the EO framework, see page 2 of the government’s Guidance Document.  

September 3, 2023The DOJ Can’t Help Itself

In the DOJ’s recently proposed case management plan, it characterizes Camp Lejeune claims as “immature torts”. Frankly, this type of rhetoric is highly offensive to veterans who have valid claims. Of course, Camp Lejeune cases are anything but “immature torts” and they are long overdue. We believe the DOJ’s choice of wording reflects its intention to delay settling these claims.

August 29, 2023 – Discovery Plans Filed

The parties filed competing proposals for discovery plans. The Court is expected to issue a ruling in the coming weeks. The proposals set forth various “tracks” of discovery being categorized by diseases. This is merely intended to make the discovery process more manageable for the parties. As expressly stated in the filing “This does not have to do with merits.” 

Plaintiffs’ filing also included a proposed short form complaint that can be used to streamline the lawsuit filing process. Notably, the list of injuries/conditions on the short form complaint is much more extensive than the initial JAG claim form. However, this does not mean all of these conditions are necessarily linked to the toxic water. This document is merely intended to make the lawsuit filing process simpler for claimants. 

August 4, 2023Lawsuits Remain Stayed

The Judges in the Eastern District of North Carolina jointly entered an Order extending deadlines in this litigation while the Parties work on jointly submitting a proposed global case management order (“GCMO”). This means the litigation is effectively stayed. The Parties have until September 1, 2023 to jointly submit the proposed GCMO. The GCMO will propose important deadlines for various phases of litigation, including expert discovery and settlement conferencing.

July 1, 2023 – Report from the Ground at Camp Lejeune

Fob James Law Firm’s co-counsel, James Foster, recently visited Camp Lejeune. He discovered that the EPA is currently on site and that part of the base has been designated a Super Fund site. Read more about James’ visit to Camp Lejeune in our blog.

June 4, 2023 – 60,000 Claims Filed So Far

According to the Navy, approximately 60,000 claims have been filed. Unfortunately, no claims have been evaluated and settled. The Navy blames budget and staffing limitations for the slow response. 

May 19, 2023 Settlement Process Is Moving Slow (if at all)

Due to the Navy failing to evaluate claims (much less settle them), Senators Ted Budd (R-N.C.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), and Representative Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.) penned a letter to Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro and Attorney General Merrick Garland expressing concerns about these delays. The letter stated that the delay in processing Camp Lejeune claims is a grave injustice. We agree.

May 2, 2023Court Establishes Master Docket

Four Judges in the Eastern District of North Carolina entered an order establishing a master docket for Camp Lejeune cases. This is essentially a form of consolidation to streamline proceedings that may impact thousands of cases. The Court is also modifying the pro hac vice local rule and allowing attorneys that are not admitted in North Carolina to appear in multiple Camp Lejeune cases provided they are sponsored by a local attorney.

April 20, 2023Lawsuits Remain Stayed

Judge Dever granted a request for an extension filed by the DOJ to extend the time for the DOJ to file answers to lawsuits. The extension is until May 31, 2023. Also pending before the Court is a joint motion to consolidate filed by numerous plaintiffs and the DOJ. We think the Judge granted the extension at least in part due to the pending motion to consolidate. If the Judge grants the motion to consolidate then the DOJ may not have to file answers in separately filed lawsuits.

April 5, 2023First Court Hearing Held

Judge Dever held the first hearing this week in the Camp Lejeune litigation. Several victims were able to speak directly to the Court about what was taken from them as a result of the toxic water. Judge Dever noted that if every case went to trial it would take as long as the existence of the Roman Empire. On a positive note Judge Dever asked lawyers and the government to find a way to streamline the process to settle claims with the victims. The government has not settled any claims, so hopefully Judge Dever’s comments with help get them moving.

March 29, 2023No Claims Review Process In Place

As claims pile up, the Office of the JAG has not adjudicated any claims. The government has not yet implemented a formal claims review process. This has created a log jam where thousands of claims are in limbo. A spokesperson for the JAG recently stated that it “adjudicates claims in accordance with applicable law” and that “[i]f the Navy determines the evidence substantiates the claim, the Navy, in coordination with the Department of Justice, may offer a settlement”. This statement is disheartening considering that the JAG has not even begun to ask for evidence to review much less offer any settlement.

March 2, 2023 – 200 Filed Lawsuits

Close to two hundred lawsuits have been filed in the Eastern District of North Carolina. This represents a tiny fraction of the total number of claims filed with the JAG. Each week more cases will be filed. However, it appears many claimants are waiting to see if the government will implement a formal claims review process before spending the money to file suit.

February 24, 2023 – VA Clarifies No Impact to VA Benefits

The VA released a memo encouraging victims to file both a VA claim and a CLJA claim. Due to inaccurate reporting, many veterans believed they must choose one or the other. This is not the case and the VA’s statement is clear: “your VA compensation benefits….will not be impacted if you file a [CLJA] lawsuit.”

February 13, 2023:

The CLJA became law on August 10, 2022 and thousands of Camp Lejeune victims immediately filed claims for compensation with the Navy JAG Tort Claims Unit.

Under the CLJA, the Navy had six months to accept, deny or otherwise resolve the claims before the claimants could bring a civil suit. The JAG has not resolved one single claim even though the deadline for the first CLJA claims expired on February 10th. As expected, the Eastern District of North Carolina has been flooded with new Camp Lejeune lawsuits. So far, more than 100 lawsuits have been filed. We expect this number to rapidly increase into the thousands over the forthcoming weeks.

January 1, 2023:

According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), the Department of Defense may be underreporting the number of people affected by water contaminated with PFAS chemicals at military installations by the hundreds of thousands. EWG reviewed an April 2022 DOD PFAS assessment and other Pentagon records, and found the government’s work to be incomplete and flawed.

December 25, 2022:

Over 20,000 claims have been submitted to the Office of the JAG and so far there are no reports that the JAG has responded to claims. There are rumors that the DOD is looking into building an online claims portal system where supporting documents can be uploaded; however, no formal announcement has been made. If the Office of the JAG does not respond within six months after a claim has been filed, claimants need to be aware that they have six months to file a lawsuit after the JAG’s six month evaluation period expires.

December 15, 2022:

In the House of Representatives, Rep. Mike Bost, R-IL., along with Rep. Darrell Issa, R-CA and eight others has introduced legislation to cap Camp Lejeune lawyer fees at 25%. Efforts in the Senate to cap attorney fees has stalled. The 25% fee cap is in line with the fees we charge our Camp Lejeune clients.

December 8, 2022:

Many law firms are charging 40% contingency fees to handle Camp Lejeune cases. Law firms are spending millions of dollars in advertising to acquire Camp Lejeune cases and presumably these firms are charging higher fees to recoup marketing costs. The American Legion is supporting the Protect Camp Lejeune Victims Ensnared by Trial-lawyers’ Scams (VETS) Act, which seeks to cap attorney fees at 10%.

November 30, 2022:

Fob James Law Firm has not received a response from the Navy with respect to any claim. The government has six months from the time the claim is submitted to evaluate the claim. This means there is about three months remaining for the government to respond to the initial claims that have been filed. We believe the government with either respond at the six month mark or not respond at all due to being swamped with a large number of claims. If the government does not respond within six months, the claimant can proceed filing a lawsuit in federal court in North Carolina.

November 17, 2022:

Senator and veteran Dan Sullivan announced that he plans to introduce legislation capping attorney fees for Camp Lejeune claims to protect veterans and their families from “blood suckers” and predatory lawyers. Fob James Law Firm believes attorney fees should be capped at 20-25% pursuant to the FTCA.

October 4, 2022:

Over 5,000 claims so far have been submitted to the Office of the JAG of the Navy. This number is expected to increase dramatically each month. Under the CLJA, the government has six months to evaluate the claims. It is unclear at this point if the government is going to wait the full six months before responding to the claims.

September 8, 2022:

The Office of the Judge Advocate General (JAG) for the Navy published preliminary claim procedures under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act (CLJA). The long of the short of it is Claimants will submit a claim form to the Office of the JAG with the information listed in the procedures document. The Office of the JAG is asking that no medical records be provided with the claim form unless specifically requested.

August 10, 2022:

President signed the PACT Act on Wednesday. Veterans and their families can now pursue claims against the federal government.

August 3, 2022:

The Senate finally passed the PACT Act by a vote of 86-11 late Tuesday afternoon. The bill now goes to the President’s desk for signature.

August 2, 2022:

Several Republican Senators, including Senator Pat Toomey, explained that they did not vote for the current PACT Act because they are against a budget provision that shuffles 390 billion in Veteran Affairs spending from the government’s discretionary category to the mandatory category. Republicans have indicated they still support the PACT Act provided a budgetary amendment is added. We believe the bill will pass later this year.

July 28, 2022:

The GOP wing of the Senate blocked the PACT Act. Interestingly, the Senate passed virtually the same bill in June with a vote of 84-14. The only difference with this bill was a minor change. The bill passed the house by a 342-88 vote. We expect the bill to pass late fall after the Senate’s recess.

July 25, 2022:

The Camp Lejeune Act, which is part of the PACT Act, could pass any day. The Senate planned to vote on the CHIPS Act first, but that bill has been delayed due to the weather. However, Chuck Schumer said today he will file a motion to advance the PACT Act. Hopefully the senators will stop campaigning in their home states and get back to D.C. to vote.

July 21, 2022:

The Senate has not voted on the amended PACT Act passed by the House last week. The Senate could vote on the bill shortly, and we expect the Senate to pass the bill with bipartisan support. With midterms just around the corner and the distractions associated with that, it is unclear when the Senate will vote. Hopefully the vote will occur sooner rather than later.

July 14, 2022:

On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved the PACT Act. This legislation expands healthcare to veterans and includes compensation for Camp Lejeune water contamination claims. Now, the bill goes to the U.S. Senate where it is expected to receive bipartisan support. The Senate could pass the bill in a matter of weeks.

July 9, 2022:

The cost estimate for PACT Act is $667 billion over ten years. Camp Lejeune settlement payouts are estimated at only $6.7 billion, which is roughly 1% of the cost of the bill. We encourage you to contact your representative and senator. Setting aside only 1% of the cost to compensate veterans who have suffered life altering injuries or death is offensive. Our government should do better.

June 16, 2022:

The United States Senate voted in favor of the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022. It’s happening!

We Represent Camp Lejeune Toxic Water Clients Nationwide

Fob James Law Firm is honored to represent veterans and their families who have suffered injuries caused by contaminated water at Camp Lejeune. We are currently representing clients in 48 states:

Irrespective of where clients are located, Camp Lejeune lawsuits must be filed and litigated in federal court in North Carolina. We are ready to aggressively represent you and your family on your claim no matter what state you reside in.

Contact a Camp Lejeune Lawyer For Help

At Fob James Law Firm, our job is to fight for your best interests. If you’ve suffered an injury as a result of exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, you should contact us immediately.

We can determine if you are eligible to file a claim or not. It won’t cost you anything to speak with us.

Additionally, you’ll never pay us anything until we successfully settle or win your case in court. Our Camp Lejeune attorneys are experienced, dedicated, and they truly care about you.

We treat all of our clients exactly how we would want our own family members to be treated. Contact us right now at 866-837-1010 or set up a free case evaluation so we can help you.

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.