Veterans Who Served at Marine Corps. Base Camp Lejeune Could Soon File Legal Claims (Updated (8/8): Bill Finally Passed)

The passing of H.R. 3967, also known as the “Honoring our PACT Act of 2022”, now 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

Updated (8/8): "Honoring our PACT of 2022" passes the U.S. Senate.

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.”

Sec. 804

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.

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.

Section 2 of the Bill

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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