If you were stationed at Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base, or lived or worked on base, between 1953 and 1987, you were exposed to toxic water and the potential for serious medical problems. Whether you have already filed a claim pursuant to the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, or you’re considering bringing a claim, we are providing Camp Lejeune lawsuit updates so you know how this enormous mass tort action is proceeding.
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act (CLJA) became law in August 2022 and paved the way for injured Marines, their families, and civilian workers to seek compensation for their injuries related to the water contamination. Under the CLJA, all potential parties must file an administrative claim with the Judge Advocate General’s Office (JAG) of the Department of the Navy to start. The JAG has six months to review each claim before the injured party can file a Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuit against the government to recoup their losses.
What is the Administrative Status of Camp Lejeune Claims and Lawsuits?
Unfortunately, even though the CLJA provided clear instructions about how these claims are supposed to be handled, the government is not addressing claims as expected and the entire litigation process is not working as planned. Specifically, the JAG has been promising an electronic document portal which will allow claimants to submit evidence in support of their claims for months. However, no portal has been developed yet.
A multi-district litigation (MDL) has been created to consolidate CLJA cases for pre-trial procedures including evidence discovery, motion hearing, and settlement discussions. Federal District Court Judge Terrence W. Boyle and a few other federal judges were appointed to handle the thousands of cases expected in the Camp Lejeune MDL.
Lawsuit Legal News created this page in an effort to provide the most current information to our readers. Our mission is to ensure that all relevant and breaking news is available to everyone who has been harmed by Camp Lejeune water contamination. If you are facing medical problems from toxic water exposure at Camp Lejeune, we want you to have the latest information so you can make the best decisions possible under your unique circumstances.
**Be sure to bookmark this page and return often to read the latest litigation updates available.
Camp Lejeune Lawsuit Updates - December 2023
December 1, 2023 - New Medical Study May Support Plaintiffs But Access Denied by Navy, Settlement Updates, Camp Lejeune Lawsuits Divided Between 4 Judges
A new study released by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) possibly expands the number of illnesses causally linked to the toxic water at Camp Lejeune. Although plaintiffs have requested a copy of this study, the Navy has denied access, claiming it is privileged information.
The plaintiffs are also trying to establish an efficient procedure for the Track 2 trials. including which illnesses will be included and the rules to be followed. In the meantime, the DOJ selected 16 cases that could be settled based on the type of injury involved. Of those 16 cases, two were rejected, six offers have expired, and eight are still pending.
The DOJ is also reviewing 62 administrative claims for settlement purposes. 13 claims were offered settlements. Four offers were accepted, one was rejected, and eight are pending. The four settled claims include a Parkinson's case that settled for $250,000, a Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma case that received $300,000, and two Leukemia claims that settled for $300,000 and $150,000.
Of the 1,433 lawsuits filed in the CLJA litigation, 11 were voluntarily dismissed, and three involving pro se plaintiffs were involuntarily dismissed. The remaining lawsuits were divided among four federal judges, with each judge handling at least 343 and up to 370 cases.
November 27, 2023 - DOJ Requests Further Extensions and Tries to Block Jury Trials
The court allowed the government additional time to respond to the plaintiffs' motion challenging the wrongful death claim requirements suggested by the DOJ as described in our November 13th update below. While plaintiffs want to move forward under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act (CLJA) requirements, the DOJ has found another way to delay progress.
Next, the DOJ has filed a motion claiming Camp Lejeune cases do not qualify for jury trials because the CLJA does not explicitly state jury trials are allowed. We certainly hope the court finds this argument ridiculous and allows the first set of bellwether jury trials to proceed as previously planned. As of November 26th, the DOJ has received over 129,000 Camp Lejeune claims.
Also, on November 27th, the government asked for another time extension to finalize the discovery of Track 1 cases. The government argues it needs more time because of its own complicated bureaucratic system. Plaintiffs have opposed this motion and any further delay.
November 13, 2023 - New Filing Demands $100 Million, 3 Cases Settled, Wrongful Death Claim Procedure Disputed
A new Camp Lejeune case was recently filed with a demand of $100 million. If successful, this case would put a serious dent in the government's estimated overall settlement fund of $3.3 trillion. At the same time, the DOJ reported that three cases have been settled for a total of $850,000.
While plaintiffs continue to face serious medical concerns during this litigation, more will likely succumb to their illnesses as time passes. The U.S. government is taking the position that Camp Lejeune claims fall under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), which requires any wrongful death claims to abide by the state law where the cases are filed. This MDL is filed in North Carolina, and those state laws would force an estate representative to open an ancillary probate estate in North Carolina to represent a deceased plaintiff in the Camp Lejeune MDL.
Obviously, plaintiffs are objecting to this extra step and the hassle involved. Plaintiffs argue instead that the Camp Lejeune Justice Act (CLJA) falls outside the FTCA and there is no requirement for an ancillary estate because a "legal representative" is allowed to represent a deceased plaintiff under the CLJA. The CLJA is also distinct from the FTCA in other ways, and wrongful death plaintiffs should not be required to take unnecessary steps under the CLJA.
November 1, 2023 - Joint Status Report Filed, DOJ Estimates Potential Settlement Value, Handling of Privileged Documents Discussed
In response to the court's request for a plan designed to help resolve the pending cases, both sides of the MDL provided an update about how to gather information about the most serious cases. Next, they will need to create a system to place a value on these claims. Since this information is private and confidential, the system must protect individuals' privacy rights.
The Department of Justice is speculating that the total amount of damages demanded could exceed $33 billion for the approximately 117,000 pending administrative claims. While the attorneys continue to make progress in evaluating and settling so many cases, there is still much to be done.
October 25, 2023 - EPA Proposed Ban on TCE and MDL Schedules Regular Status Hearings Going Forward
One of the primary pollutants found in Camp Lejeune water is Trichloroethelyne (TCE). As of this week, the EPA is proposing a complete ban on TCE because of overwhelming evidence that TCE is linked to liver, kidney, and cervical cancers along with Parkinson's disease.
Beginning October 30th, the lawyers involved in the Camp Lejeune litigation will meet with the judge every first and third Tuesday of each month to discuss the case and any updates.
October 10, 2023 - Master Complaint Prepared and New Case Filings Jump 300%
To help new plaintiffs file a Camp Lejeune lawsuit, the court has approved a master complaint form that consolidates similar facts and grievances among plaintiffs. Now, plaintiffs won't have to create their own complaints because they can use this simplified form.
Although the government hoped new case filings would slow down after announcing its settlement structure in September, the opposite happened. In August (before the settlement was revealed), only 50 new cases joined the MDL. Since the structured settlement was announced, 193 cases have joined the MDL.
October 3, 2023 - Pending Cases Grouped Into Different Tracks for Future Litigation Purposes
By court order, all Camp Lejeune lawsuits will be placed into different categories for purposes of evidence discovery and trial purposes. The tracks, simply called Track 1, 2, or 3, will be handled separately in an effort to streamline the litigation process. Track 1 has been defined to include all plaintiffs diagnosed with:
- Liver cancer,
- Bladder cancer,
- Kidney cancer,
- Non-Hodgkins lymphoma, and
- Parkinson's disease.
The court has not defined Tracks 2 and 3 yet, but we'll keep you posted about which track your case qualifies for. It is interesting that the Track 1 medical conditions are the same as the Tier 1 settlement category conditions (see below), with the exception of Parkinson's disease.
September 20, 2023 - US Government Wants Court-Imposed Attorney's Fees Cap Included in its Settlement Structure
Only a few weeks after proposing a settlement program for the thousands of pending Camp Lejeune claims and lawsuits, the U.S. Government has amended its offer by adding a cap on attorney's fees. The program now limits attorney fees to 20% in cases that are settled at the administrative claim stage and 25% for claims that have been filed as lawsuits.
The legal team at LLN will never take a position that could be contrary to our clients' best interests, but we are concerned that a mandatory cap on legal fees may cause some lawyers to refuse or drop cases that may be more difficult to prove or don't fall into the highest settlement category. We expect fierce arguments against the government's proposed fee cap, and we're watching this situation carefully.
September 8, 2023 - Government Proposes Quick, Low-Value Settlement Offers for Certain Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Cases
As the Department of Justice (DOJ) continues to request more time to respond to the thousands of pending Camp Lejeune claims, the government has recently created a two-tiered settlement structure for injured plaintiffs who want to settle quickly. Settlement amounts depend upon the type of illness suffered by each plaintiff and how long they were exposed to the toxic water at Camp Lejeune.
The proposed settlement is structured as follows:
Tier 1 Illnesses:
- Kidney Cancer
- Liver Cancer
- Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma
- Bladder Cancer
Tier 2 Illnesses:
- Multiple Myeloma
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Kidney Disease/End-Stage Renal Disease
- Systemic Sclerosis/Systemic Scleroderma
Payment is based upon how long the plaintiff was exposed to water contamination at Camp Lejeune:
- Less than 1 year
- One to 5 years
- More than 5 years
The following chart explains how much your claim would receive depending on whether you have a Tier 1 or Tier 2 illness and how long you were exposed to the toxic water.
|Under 1 Year
|Over 5 Years
In general, the team at Lawsuit Legal News does not think these amounts are sufficient to compensate those who were injured by the camp's water contamination. However, some plaintiffs' situations may benefit by taking a settlement now. For example, if time is of the essence in the plaintiff's life or if there are outside circumstances that might weaken a cancer claim such as years of smoking or pre-existing conditions.
If you are considering filing a claim or settling a pending claim, talk to a dedicated Camp Lejeune lawyer at Lawsuit Legal News before you take any action.
August 1, 2023 - Both Sides Agree on Global Case Management Order
The JAG and all plaintiffs' counsel requested an deadline extension for all pending cases until September 1st to prepare a joint case management order. The main focus of this order will be creating a database for all plaintiffs' information and organizing document requests and processing.
Plaintiffs want to help the government use its limited resources to move these cases toward settlement evaluation and payment as soon as possible.
July 2023 - The Number of Administrative Claims Continues to Rise Without Any Review
As of the beginning of July, more than 70,000 administrative claims have been filed with the Judge Advocate General's Office (JAG). At this point, there is still no sign of the government's promised document portal, which will allow injured claimants to electronically submit evidence in support of their claims. Without a way to receive evidence, the government cannot review claims or make settlement offers.
June 2023 - DOJ's Defenses are Allowed to Stand
The Department of Justice (DOJ) finally responded to 198 lawsuits, but plaintiffs in 120 of those cases challenged the “barebones defenses” claimed by the government. Basically, the government argued the plaintiffs’ claims were too vague, or a dry cleaner is responsible for the water contamination, or the plaintiffs knew the water was bad but continued to drink it. Here at LLN, we can’t imagine the last argument will ever be made in court since it is so disrespectful to our service members.
Judge Terrence W. Boyle ruled that although the government’s defenses were probably "overpleaded" and vague, the defenses are similar to the allegations filed by the plaintiffs which also lack details. Also, the plaintiffs may still file a motion to dismiss these defenses in the future if they prove to be insufficient.
It appears the government is trying to treat these cases like typical negligence cases instead of lawsuits that are specifically provided for in the Camp Lejeune Justice Act. The DOJ also requested a consolidated litigation plan to cover all pending CLJA cases. All of the judges agreed except Judge Boyle who is moving forward with his cases, causing tension among the judges.
May 2023 - Lawsuits are Consolidated For Pretrial Procedures, Judge Criticizes Navy's Lack of Action, New Study Confirms Link Between Parkinson’s Disease and Toxic Water
As of May 1st, all pending CLJA lawsuits were consolidated for pretrial and discovery purposes. One court will create a database to organize party information, including all unique circumstances and illnesses. This should help promote case settlements. The DOJ lawyers wanted even more time to reply to all lawsuits, but Judge Boyle resisted saying eight months was already a long time to respond to the 900 lawsuits pending.
On May 15th, a new study addressed the risk of Parkinson's Disease to Service Members at Camp Lejeune. More than 340,480 service members participated and researchers determined "the risk of Parkinson's disease was 70% higher in Camp Lejeune veterans compared with veterans stationed at a Marine Corps base where water was not contaminated." These findings bolster many Camp Lejeune cases and should lead to higher settlements.
At Lawsuit Legal News we support the congressional pressure that is building against the Navy for taking so long to address Camp Lejeune cases. We agree with the senators and congressmen who filed a grievance claiming the delay in resolving these claims is a grave injustice.
The Navy now says it does not have the staff or financial resources to handle so many Camp Lejeune claims. At the end of May, more than 60,000 water contamination claims had been filed under the CLJA, but none have been resolved. The JAG still doesn't have a document submission system in place. The Navy hopes the portal will be ready this summer.
April 2023 - Both Sides File a Joint Motion to Consolidate All Lawsuits, Government Needs More Time to Answer Complaints
This month both sides in the Camp Lejeune litigation agreed all cases should be combined in front of one judge or consolidated for pre-trial proceedings. The consolidation would not be a class action lawsuit. It will be a multi-district litigation (MDL), which would allow consistent rulings on pre-trial motions and evidence discovery practices while keeping final resolutions separate.
By mid-April, more than 800 lawsuits were filed in North Carolina and approximately 20 more cases are being filed each day. As a result, the government requested more time to respond to all of the lawsuits while the consolidation of these cases is pending. The court set the timeframe to answer lawsuits at the end of May.
The LLN team agrees the cases should be consolidated, and we hope it will create a better process to keep the litigation moving and hopefully lead to faster settlements.
March 2023 - Camp Lejeune Lawsuit Filings are Heating Up, New Burden of Proof Will be Used at Trial
As of the first week of March, the JAG had not taken any action on the pending administrative claims, so 179 civil lawsuits were filed in the North Carolina Camp Lejeune court.. Although the legal process is moving slowly, Camp Lejeune claims should be fairly easy to prove because of the unique standard of proof that will be applied at trial for the first time in civil cases.
The unusual evidentiary standard now applied to these cases is called "equipoise causation." Normally, injured plaintiffs must prove their case by a preponderance of the evidence where "the defendant more likely than not caused the injury." Under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, injured plaintiffs must only present evidence showing "a causal relationship is at least as likely as not" between the contaminated water and their illness or condition.
This lower burden of proof will make it easier to establish a link between the plaintiff’s illness and the toxic water, even if other potentially relevant risk factors are involved. By the end of March, 379 lawsuits were filed in North Carolina and the JAG has not done anything with the 20,000 pending administrative claims.
February 2023 - The JAG’s Six-Month Deadline Passes With No Action While Civil Lawsuits Flood the North Carolina Court
According to the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, enacted on August 10, 2022, the Navy had six months to resolve administrative claims filed with the JAG Tort Claims Unit. Also, injured claimants only have a two-year window of opportunity to file a lawsuit to recover their losses. Claims filed in August 2022 reached the six-month deadline in February. However, the JAG has not resolved any claims while a flood of new filings occurred in mid-February.
By mid-month, the JAG received more than 20,000 administrative claims, and by the end of February, there were 158 lawsuits on file. In the meantime, the VA office has reminded veterans that they may bring a claim for disability benefits in addition to a JAG claim or civil lawsuit. So far, the VA has received more than 102,000 Camp Lejeune water contamination disability claims over the past 10 years.
We fear the CLJA claims and lawsuits will be stalled because the government has not created an investigation team to process and resolve them. We are concerned the government may wait to discuss settlement offers until the two-year filing deadline arrives in August 2024, so it will know exactly how many potential claims are pending. This tactic will benefit the government, but the injured service members, their families, and other innocent people will continue to suffer needlessly.
January 2023 - Settlement Budget Established, Still No Claims Processing by the JAG
According to Bloomberg, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) set aside $6.1 billion for Camp Lejeune settlement payments. At LLN, we believe this amount will be insufficient to pay all CLJA claims. Now, the CBO has mentioned an additional $15 billion (for a total of $21 billion) in settlements and jury verdicts through 2031.
These funds will be held in the Judgment Fund but not earmarked for Camp Lejeune claims. The CBO defines this fund as "a permanent, indefinite appropriation that is available to pay monetary awards against the United States that are judicially or administratively ordered."
By the end of January, the JAG had not addressed the thousands of claims filed and was not ready to accept supporting documentation. Military veterans and congress members claim the JAG and the Department of Justice are dragging their feet, adding to the injured veterans’ suffering and flying in the face of the intent of the Camp Lejeune Justice Act.
This brief summary only covers the litigation progress in 2023. If you are interested in prior litigation news, our associated law firm has prepared this recap that includes earlier Camp Lejeune lawsuit status updates.
Lawsuit Legal News is Your Trusted Camp Lejeune Litigation Update Resource
If you or someone you love was injured by the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune military base, you have rights. Our mission at Lawsuit Legal News is to provide the best, most current information about pending mass tort lawsuits and help you make the best decisions about your financial future. Now that a settlement structure is on the table contact our team of legal professionals to understand your best options.