Decades of contamination of Camp Lejeune’s water supply have culminated in a massive group of plaintiffs demanding compensation for the damages they have sustained while battling health issues caused by exposure to the toxins in the water. After fighting for their claims to be recognized despite restrictive statute of limitations in North Carolina, the plaintiffs were successful in getting the Camp Lejeune lawsuits recognized under the jurisdiction of four federal judges in North Carolina, where Camp Lejeune is located.
As the number of claims continues to grow, the federal judges overseeing the Camp Lejeune claims have taken steps to ensure the fair and expedient processing of the cases. In the meantime, plaintiffs’ lawyers are working to ensure that past and future damages are accurately documented, their exposure is confirmed, and the momentum these plaintiffs have accumulated continues. Veterans, their families, and civilian contractors who meet the criteria to file a Camp Lejeune lawsuit should consider hiring their own personal injury lawyer to maximize their compensation.
Federal Judges Indicate Intention to Take a Managerial Approach to the Camp Lejeune Lawsuits
As of June 2023, NPR reports that about 900 Camp Lejeune lawsuits have been filed, and approximately 65,000 claims have been made with the Navy. The government estimates that as many as 1 million people may have been impacted by Camp Lejeune’s polluted water, so more claims may be forthcoming. In a mass tort issue of this size, it often becomes incumbent upon the judges to take a more active role in directing the flow of the personal injury claims process. In this case, Judge James Denver has attempted to limit the number of claims that need to be settled in court by calling on the U.S. Navy JAG Office to attempt to settle Camp Lejeune claims administratively prior to handing them off to the already overwhelmed court.
One of the major motivations for expediting the process is the age of many of the plaintiffs. The beginning of the contamination window at Camp Lejeune was in 1954, meaning that a plaintiff bringing a claim concerning injuries they sustained while serving at Camp Lejeune in their early 20s would be at least 90. Plaintiffs’ lawyers have emphasized that their clients deserve to live to see the compensation they are owed, which would not be possible if claims were judged individually.
In response to the sense of urgency due to the plaintiffs’ average age and the sheer caseload volume, the four judges have looked to other historical mass tort claims for a management strategy. In addition to directing plaintiffs’ lawyers to choose leaders, they have taken a similar approach to that of the mass tort claim concerning 9/11 rescue workers and cleaning personnel who had gotten sick in the aftermath of the attack. Like in the 9/11 claims, the judges intend to create a database to shift through plaintiffs’ information to ascertain which claims can be settled quickly.
Water Contamination on North Carolina Military Base Caused Catastrophic Health Issues for Veterans and Their Families
A Marine Corps base in North Carolina has been in the headlines for the large-scale contamination that has caused catastrophic injuries to military members, civilian contractors, and military families who resided on the base. A series of issues, including a leaking dry cleaning operation, caused toxic chemicals to enter the bases’ water supply, effectively polluting the drinking water with chemicals like benzene.
Despite evidence that some number of military officials were aware of the issues with Camp Lejeune’s water supply, limited actions were taken to prevent further contamination, and military families were not informed of the risk. This led to a period of about 30 years where service members, their families, and civilian contractors were exposed to contaminated water and significantly increased their risk of developing certain health issues. The VA has classified the following health issues as Camp Lejeune-related conditions:
- Adult leukemia
- Aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes
- Bladder cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Liver cancer
- Multiple myeloma
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Parkinson’s disease
The U.S. Congress effectively acknowledged the Navy’s negligence by creating a way for Camp Lejeune families to pursue claims for compensation by passing the Camp Lejeune Justice Act. This legislation superseded an existing North Carolina statute that limited most plaintiffs from making a claim due to the amount of time that had passed. With this opportunity, Camp Lejeune families may finally be able to secure the compensation they deserve.
Camp Lejeune Families Seek Compensation for Their Damages
Camp Lejeune families have suffered significant losses over the years as these catastrophic health issues have manifested. They are entitled to seek compensation for their losses to recover the value of their economic and non-economic damages.
Plaintiffs deserve compensation for financial costs they have sustained while seeking treatment or navigating their careers after their injuries, which can be provided in the form of economic damages. Camp Lejeune families may also seek non-economic damages to recuperate the invisible cost of dealing with their injuries.
Examples of Damages in a Camp Lejeune Lawsuit:
- Medical bills
- Lab tests
- Hospital stays
- Radiation therapy
- Hormone therapy
- Medical monitoring
- Job-related losses
- Lost wages
- Job retraining
- Missed promotions
- Reduced earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of quality of life
- Wrongful death
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of parental guidance and instruction
- Loss of services and support
Contact an Experienced Camp Lejeune Lawyer
If you worked or resided at Camp Lejeune between August 1953 and December 1987 for over 30 days and have developed health issues, you should consider speaking with a personal injury lawyer to determine if you have a valid claim. As you look for a personal injury lawyer to represent you, you should be aware of scammers attempting to defraud you. A reputable personal injury lawyer will not ask for upfront payment, and they should be able to give you a clear idea of what to expect from the personal injury claims process and what your damages may be worth.