Camp Lejeune Lawsuits Becoming Wrongful Death Claims as Progress Stalls

Camp Lejeune Lawsuits Becoming Wrongful Death Claims as Progress Stalls

Those living at Camp Lejeune between 1953 and 1987 were exposed to harmful contaminants like trichloroethylene (TCE) in the water supply. The water they used for drinking, cleaning, cooking, and washing was contaminated after improper disposal of chemicals and chemical spills. People who used the contaminated water were exposed to adverse health risks, with many experiencing health problems like lung cancer, kidney disease, and leukemia.

The Camp Lejeune Justice Act passed in 2021 allowed Camp Lejeune contaminated water victims to file administrative claims and lawsuits to hold the government accountable for their negligence. However, few Camp Lejeune toxic water victims have recovered compensation for their damages. As time progresses with litigation progressing slowly, many people who have experienced severe health problems for decades have lost their lives, changing many Camp Lejeune lawsuits to wrongful death cases.

Marines and Their Families at Camp Lejeune Exposed to Toxic Water

Camp Lejeune is a marine base in North Carolina, situated near a 14-mile stretch of beaches that makes it ideal for amphibious assault training. However, marines and their families who lived there between August 31, 1953, and December 31, 1987, suffered adverse health conditions from water contamination.

The water supplies at the Tarawa Terrace Facility and the Hadnot Point Treatment Plant Facility were contaminated by harmful chemicals because of pollution from oil dumps, chemical spills, and improper disposal of chemicals. People living at Camp Lejeune used the toxic water without knowing the adverse health conditions they were exposed to by consuming harmful contaminants like trichloroethylene (TCE).

What Adverse Health Conditions Are Former Camp Lejeune Residents At Risk For?

Those living at Camp Lejeune between 1953 and 1987 used contaminated water supplies for drinking, cooking, cleaning, and washing without realizing anything was wrong. Despite the government knowing about the contamination as early as the early 1980s, they failed to notify Camp Lejeune residents.

Camp Lejeune residents continued to use the water, exposing themselves to harmful contaminants for years. In the decades following the water contamination at Camp Lejeune, many of those who lived there have experienced severe health problems due to exposure to harmful contaminants. 

The following are some adverse health conditions caused by the toxic water at Camp Lejeune:

The Camp Lejeune Justice Act Allowed Victims to Pursue Compensation for Damages

After discovering the water contamination in 1999, Camp Lejeune toxic water victims were not allowed to file lawsuits to pursue compensation for damages because the statute of limitations had passed. North Carolina’s statute of repose only allowed a ten-year statute of limitations window for personal injury cases. 

This all changed when President Biden signed the Camp Lejeune Justice Act into law in August 2022. This new law allowed anybody who lived, worked, or was exposed to toxic water at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days to file an administrative claim to pursue compensation for damages. The process involves filing an administrative claim, which begins a six-month administrative period where they can negotiate a settlement with the Navy Judge Advocate General (JAG). 

Victims of Camp Lejeune's toxic water bear the burden of proof, meaning they must present evidence proving they suffered an adverse health condition from Camp Lejeune’s contaminated water. After the administrative period elapses, they can file a Camp Lejeune lawsuit in federal court.

Camp Lejeune Lawsuit Plaintiffs Are Still Waiting On Compensation

Since the passing of the Camp Lejeune Justice Act in 2022, many Camp Lejeune toxic water victims have not received compensation for their damages. Despite some scammers suggesting otherwise, thousands of Camp Lejeune contaminated water victims have gone through the six-month administrative period without receiving a settlement from the Navy JAG. 

United States Senators and congresspeople have sent a letter requesting answers from the Navy JAG and Department of Justice regarding stalled Camp Lejeune litigation, but nothing has come of it yet. Currently, there are over 1,000 Camp Lejeune lawsuits pending in the Eastern District of North Carolina.

Many Camp Lejeune Victims Have Died While Waiting for Camp Lejeune Lawsuits

Things have grown dire for Camp Lejeune toxic water victims still waiting to receive fair compensation for their damages. Many cases have become wrongful death cases as people have started to pass away from the complications of severe health conditions. They’ve had to live for decades with debilitating health conditions and now continue to have to wait for settlements from the government.

Eric Flynn, one of the partners at Bell Law Firm representing 85% of Camp Lejeune plaintiffs, suggests that 20% of the law firm’s cases since the Camp Lejeune Justice Act are wrongful death claims. While some started as wrongful death claims, others became wrongful death claims as victims’ health conditions grew worse. 

Cpl. Daniel Thomas Clark died in February at the age of 63 from complications of kidney and lung cancer. In June 2023, Pfc. Danny Lee Williams passed away from bladder cancer, and James Arthur Thomasson died from kidney cancer. They are some of the many who will not receive compensation for toxic water damages in their lifetime because of the stalled litigation.

How Does the Government Plan to Address the Stalled Camp Lejeune Toxic Water Litigation?

There are four district judges handling all Camp Lejeune toxic water claims, and they have stated that they want a speedy settlement process because of the large volume of cases. For this to happen, the Navy JAG and DOJ will have to change their process for handling the claims that have led to many Camp Lejeune toxic water victims waiting a long time for a settlement.

The Navy has stated that they have initiated processing on over 17,000 administrative claims, a small percentage of the 93,000 claims filed. It’s looking to hire more staff and create IT solutions to expedite the process.

Navy Public Affairs Officer Lt. Cmdr. Joseph Keiley addressed the stalled litigation with CNN and the Navy's plans to expedite the process: “The Department of Justice and the Department of Navy are working to develop an early-resolution framework for the (Camp Lejeune Justice Act) claims. This framework will supplement other mechanisms for resolving claims currently available through the normal administrative claims process or litigation and will provide a voluntary, expedited option for those interested. Our aim is that this framework will be finalized soon so that those impacted can quickly receive relief.”

Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer to Help With Your Camp Lejeune Lawsuit

If you suffered a severe health condition from Camp Lejeune’s toxic water, you could file an administrative claim to begin the process of pursuing compensation. You likely suffered economic and non-economic damages, such as medical bills, lost earning potential, and loss of enjoyment of life, that the government can be held liable for.

Your best chance of recovering fair compensation is to have a Camp Lejeune lawyer in your corner who can advise you on the best steps to take. They can explain how the process for filing an administrative claim works and walk you through how to handle the process effectively. Contact an experienced personal injury lawyer today who can help you file a Camp Lejeune lawsuit.


Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has represented over 11,000 injury victims and has served as lead counsel in over 1000 lawsuits. Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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