Veterans Who Served at Marine Corps. Base Camp Lejeune Are Filing Legal Claims Against the Government.

The passing of H.R. 3967, also known as the “Honoring our PACT Act of 2022”, gives veterans the ability to file legal claims for illnesses they received after exposure to toxic substances during military service at Camp Lejeune.

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Camp Lejeune

Camp Lejeune Litigation Updates

Federal Court Judge Terrence W. Boyle said he can see trials starting as early as April for the Camp Lejeune mass action.  “I don’t mind taking trials one after another,” Judge Boyle said, adding he has “no inhibitions about having trials.”

Plaintiffs would like trials to start as soon as possible with multiple cases being presented in a single trial, however, the federal government would like a slower pace saying it would help with gathering more information for a possible global deal.

Like with other complex mass actions, more delays could mean victims could pass away before seeing justice.

The Justice Department and the Department of the Navy (DON) have announced an elective settlement offer with a tier system similar to the one mentioned in a previous update. Tier 1 includes:

  • Kidney cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Leukemia
  • Bladder cancer

Our attorney Rand Nolen is currently looking into the announcement to see if the offers are valued at an appropriate level compared to the severity of the illnesses. Regardless, this signals movement in the ongoing litigation and a sign of hope for many who have been patiently waiting for the government to respond.

Both the plaintiffs’ counsel and Navy JAG are working towards creating a proper global case management system which should help streamline the claim review process. This should help the government conserve resources and to speed up evaluation for case settlement.

There are also negotiations on a tier list for the diseases associated with the toxic exposure at Camp Lejeune. Both the plaintiffs’ counsel and the government need to agree on which diseases should be included in each tier. Diseases in tier 1 will most likely settle first. 

Since the passing of the “Honoring our PACT of 2022” and Camp Lejeune victims started filing claims, after 9 months, Navy JAG (Judge Advocate General) has still not reviewed any of the claims for settlement. The delay has been linked to JAG wanting to develop a portal system to enable claimants to submit supporting documents electronically.

Plaintiff lawyers are still waiting for Navy JAG (Judge Advocate General) to review Camp Lejeune Justice Act Claims despite not accepting supporting documentation.  Some of these claims are now being converted into traditional civil lawsuits. This could lead to the formation of a mass action.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has started to remind Camp Lejeune victims that filing a claim will not affect their VA benefits or health care benefits. According to the VA’s website, “If the court awards you relief under this law (or if a court awarded relief in the past), this won’t affect the amount of your VA disability payments or your eligibility for VA health care. ”

Progress for the litigation has been slow. Thousands of claims have been filed, but the Navy Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps has not reviewed any of the claims. At the same time, certain cases are seeing dismissals from the Department of Justice. Efforts are still being made to accelerate activity in the court.

After a rollercoaster ride of revisions and denials, the U.S. Senate finally passed the Honoring our Pact of 2022 during a historic marathon weekend voting session. This bill contains significant changes to the Veterans Affairs office as well as extends more benefits and services to our veterans. Among other Acts that were included within the Honoring our Pact of 2022, is section 804 of the bill. It reads:

“This section provides a federal cause of action for individuals who resided, worked, or were otherwise exposed (including in utero) for not less than 30 days to water at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987.”

A Quick History of Marine Corps. Base Camp Lejeune

Built in 1941, the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune was named after highly decorated Lieutenant General John Archer Lejeune who served more than 40 years with the Marine Corps. The Marines hold a rich heritage within our nation that goes back as far as the Revolutionary War.

Camp Lejeune is a 156,000 acre U.S. military training facility located in Jacksonville, North Carolina. The base includes roughly 11 miles of beach, making it a major site for amphibious assault training; perfect for training marines. The main base also includes six satellite facilities: Marine Corps Air Station New River, Camp Geiger, Stone Bay, Courthouse Bay, Camp Johnson, and the Greater Sandy Run Training Area.

PFAS contaminated water

Contaminated Water Found on the Base Camp

Between 1953 and 1987, Marines, their families and other civilians who worked at Camp Lejeune drank and bathed in water contaminated with toxins at concentrations 240 to 3,400 times permitted by safety standards. There were four main toxic chemicals that people were exposed to: trichloroethylene (TCE), tetrachloroethylene (PCE), vinyl chloride (VC) and Benzene, as well as 70 secondary chemicals.

  1. Trichloroethylene (TCE) – is a solvent used to clean metals
  2. Tetrachloroethylene (PCE) – is a chemical found in some dry cleaning products
  3. Vinyl Chloride (VC) – is a toxic byproduct of TCE and PCE degradation
  4. Benzene – is a toxic chemical found in certain plastics and resins

Tetrachloroethylene (also known as perchloroethylene or “PCE”) was the main contaminant. Unfortunately, toxic exposure occurred among anyone at Camp Lejeune within this time frame regardless of whether the water was ingested or used for bathing.

History Behind the Bill that was Passed by Congress

There have been several different Bills and Acts that have been introduced to the House of Representatives. The most recent and relevant to those impacted by the toxic water found at Camp Lejeune between 1953 and 1987 is H.R. 6482.

This bill was introduced to the House by Rep. Matt Cartwright of Pennsylvania on January 25, 2022. The bill would allow the individuals who were harmed by exposure to toxins found at Camp Lejeune the ability to pursuit legal action.

(a) In General.—An individual, including a veteran (as defined in section 101 of title 38, United States Code), or the legal representative of such an individual, who resided, worked, or was otherwise exposed (including in utero exposure) for not less than 30 days during the period beginning on August 1, 1953, and ending on December 31, 1987, to water at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, that was supplied by, or on behalf of, the United States may bring an action in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina to obtain appropriate relief for harm that was caused by exposure to the water at Camp Lejeune.

The bill would also remove the ability of the United States government to claim immunity from legal action.

Another related bill that was being closely watched at the time was H.R. 3967. Called the “Honoring our PACT Act of 2022”, the bill passed the House of Representatives in July of this year and moved back and forth from the Senate back to the House of Reps. until August 2nd. Now, the bill is being sent to the President to be signed into law.

What Happens Now that this Bill is Passed?

This is great news for those who have suffered severe illnesses after serving at Camp Lejeune. They will finally be able to pursue justice for pain and suffering, as well as pursue financial help for medical expenses obtained after their time of service. Some of those illness include, but are not limited to:

Cancers

  • Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML)
  • Bladder cancer
  • Brain cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Central Nervous System cancer (CNS)
  • Cervical cancer
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Hodgkins Lymphoma
  • Kidney cancer
  • Leukemia
  • Liver cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Myelodysplastic syndrome
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Rectal cancer

Other Conditions

  • Cardiac defect
  • Epilepsy
  • Fatty liver disease (hepatic steatosis)
  • Female Infertility
  • Kidney damage
  • Immune disorders
  • Nerve damage
  • Miscarriage
  • Myelodysplastic syndromes
  • Neurobehavioral effects
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Renal toxicity/disease
  • Scleroderma
  • Other long term illnesses

Were You or a Loved One Affected?

At Fleming, Nolen & Jez, our personal injury and mass tort lawyers have dedicated their careers to fighting for the rights of injured victims throughout the United States. If you believe you have been affected by toxic water at Marine Corps. Base Camp Lejeune, click on the button below to submit a form to be reviewed by our team.

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