The water at Camp Lejeune from 1953 until 1987 was contaminated with toxic chemicals. Veterans, family members and others who lived or worked at Camp Lejeune during this time frame may have been exposed to harmful chemicals that caused serious diseases such as cancer, parkinson’s, non hodgkin lymphoma, and many others.
If you or a loved one were exposed to these toxic chemicals, the North Carolina Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawyers at Fob James Law Firm want to help you.
Our biggest concern is making sure you get the justice and the compensation that you deserve. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.
Contact a North Carolina Camp Lejeune Lawyer today for a free case evaluation.
Camp Lejuene Water Contamination FAQ
Who Qualifies for a Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Settlement?
Contamination of water at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina and military installations near Camp Lejeune [e.g. Marine Corps Air Station New River (MCAS NR)] occurred over a span of 35 years, exposing an estimated one million people to chemicals that have been linked to diseases like Parkinson’s disease, kidney disease, fertility problems, and several types of cancer.
Between 1953 and 1987, water treated and distributed by the Tarawa Terrace and Hadnot Point systems on Camp Lejeune Marine Base was determined to have contained unsafe levels of toxic chemicals like trichloroethylene (TCE), tetrachloroethylene (also known as perchloroethylene, or PCE), vinyl chloride, and benzene.
Veterans, family members and others who lived or worked at Camp Lejeune or Marine Corps Air Station New River (MCAS NR) between August 1, 1953 and December 31, 1987 and were diagnosed with the injuries listed below may be entitled to compensation.
What Injuries Are Linked to Camp Lejeune’s Water Contamination?
The cancers and diseases that have been strongly linked to exposure to Benzene, TCE, and PCE include the following:
- Bladder Cancer
- Kidney Cancer
- Liver Cancer
- Multiple Myeloma
- Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Aplastic Anemia
- Myelodysplastic Syndromes
- Kidney Disease
- Lung Cancer
- Esophageal Cancer
Other injuries linked to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune include the following:
- ALS (Lou Gerhig’s Disease)
- Birth Defects and Injuries
- Brain Damage
- Cardiac Defect
- Fatty Liver Disease
- Hepatic Steatosis
- Neurobehavioral Effects
- Parkinsonian Syndrome
- Renal Toxicity
- MDS Syndrome
- Breast Cancer
- Rectal Cancer
- Brain Cancer
- Uterine Cancer
- Other Cancers
What Is the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022?
On June 16, 2022, the United States Senate voted in favor of the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022, advancing the piece of legislation that opens the door for new claims on behalf of Veterans and military families injured by exposure to contaminated water at the military base.
The significance of this law is that it enlarges the time period for victims to file claims. Most toxic tort claims are barred two years after the date of discovery or after a requisite period of time has passed regardless of the date of discovery. This is known as the statute of limitations and the statute of repose.
Prior to this new law, victims claims were barred by the statute of limitations or the statute of repose in virtually every state, including North Carolina, because the exposure occurred so long ago (1953-1987).
Now that this law has passed, victims of water contamination at Camp Lejeune can file claims to seek the compensation they deserve.
What Can I Recover From a Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawsuit?
Every case is unique, but people who file claims can potentially recover money for some of the following damages:
- Past and future medical bills (including medication, hospital stays, and in-home care)
- Pain and suffering including mental anguish
- Psychological damage
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- The loss of enjoyment of life
- Broadly speaking, a plaintiff could be entitled to compensation for any past and future costs associated with their injury
How Long Do I Have to File a Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Claim?
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 establishes a two-year time-frame from the date of the law’s enactment during which veterans, their families, and others exposed to contaminated drinking water on the military base can commence legal action.
If the Department of Defense denies a victim’s written demand, the victim will have only 180 days from the receipt of the denial to file a lawsuit.
Do not delay. Contact Fob James Law Firm toll-free at 833-684-0503 for a free consultation and case analysis by our North Carolina Camp Lejeune Water Contamination attorneys.
How Do I File a Camp Lejeune Water Claim Under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act?
According the bill, victims must first comply with 28 U.S. Code § 2675 before filing a lawsuit. This means that victims must submit a written claim to the Office of the JAG. The JAG will have six months to evaluate the claim.
If the DOD does not respond to the written demand within six months, then the claim will be deemed constructively denied.
After a denial, the victims will then have 180 days to file a lawsuit in the District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina.
What Do Camp Lejeune Victims Have To Prove?
Victims of the Camp Lejeune Water Contamination will have to prove the following:
- Proof that you served or lived at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days between August 1, 1953 and December 31, 1987;
- A current diagnosed condition; and,
- Evidence sufficient to conclude that a causal relationship exists between the diagnosis and toxic water exposure (or that a causal relationship is as least likely as not).
Fortunately, many victims will be able to meet the evidentiary burden by citing prior studies and findings by the VA and other government agencies.
Will A Camp Lejeune Lawsuit Affect My Disability From The VA?
No, your claim under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act (CLJA) is a separate claim, and you are entitled to different damages like pain and suffering.
It is possible that some disability benefits you have received from the VA in the past may offset part of your CLJA recovery.
However, the VA has made clear your disability benefits will not be impacted by any award you received for your Camp Lejeune claim:
What Are The Attorney Fees In Camp Lejeune Lawsuits?
It costs nothing upfront to hire us. Fob James Law Firm operates on the contingency-fee-basis, which means we only get paid if we successfully resolve your case. Our fees come out of a favorable settlement or jury award, not out of your pocket.
We believe that Camp Lejeune lawyer fees should be capped by the Federal Tort Claims Act.
Under the FTCA, if your claim is resolved administratively (e.g. the claim is submitted to the DOD and it pays the claim), the attorney’s fee is capped at 20% of the total recovery. If your claim is resolved by settlement or judgment after the filing of a lawsuit, the Camp Lejeune attorney fees are capped at 25% of the total recovery.
The Risk Of Cancer Is Real
In 2014, Frank J. Bove with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and several colleagues published a mortality study (the “Bove Study”) of civilian employees at Camp Lejeune exposed to water contaminated with solvents. The study concluded that elevated toxins in the water system at Camp Lejeune increased the risk of cancers of the kidney, liver, esophagus, cervix, multiple myeloma, Hodgkin lymphoma and ALS.
Moreover, the federal government’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) conducted an extensive mortality study of military personnel at Camp Lejeune compared to personnel at Camp Pendleton. Over the same time period, the Camp Lejeune group had higher mortality rates for the following causes of death:
- Cancers of the cervix, esophagus, kidney, liver, lung, pancreas, prostate, rectum, and soft tissue
- Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Multiple myeloma
- Multiple sclerosis
Camp Lejeune Water Lawsuit Updates
May 2, 2023: 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 pleadings, discovery, bellwether trials, and 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, 2023: 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, 2023: 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, 2023: 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: 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: 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 Camp Lejeune Justice Act, 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 submitted claims to the Office of the JAG each month since the CLJA was passed. So far we have 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 claim. 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 for the Navy. This number is expected to increase dramatically each month. Under the CLJA, the government has six months to evalaute 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 specifcally 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. W
July 28, 2022: The GOP wing of the Senate blocked the PACT Act, which includes compensation for injured vets from contaminated water at Camp Lejeune. 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 was going 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, which helps vets suffering from toxic exposure. Hopefully the senators will stop campaigning in their home states and get back to D.C. to vote.
July 21, 2022: The amended PACT Act that the House of Representatives passed last week has not yet been voted on by the Senate. The Senate could vote on the bill any day, and we expect the Senate to pass the bill with overwhelmingly 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, which expands healthcare to veterans and compensation for Camp Lejeune water contamination claims. The bill adds 23 illnesses to the list of toxic-exposure-related ailments presumed to be connected to military service, ending the need for veterans with those conditions to try to prove to the VA their illnesses were linked to their deployments. 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 of the bill 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, advancing the piece of legislation that opens the door for new claims on behalf of Veterans and military families injured by exposure to contaminated water at the military base.
Contact a North Carolina Camp Lejeune Lawyer Near Me for Help
At Fob James Law Firm, our job is to help you to the best of our ability and fight for you. 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 North Carolina Camp Lejeune water contamination 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 833-684-0503 or set up a free case evaluation so we can help you.
Fob James Law Firm is affiliated with Foster Law and James Foster, member of the North Carolina bar.