If you or a loved one suffered contaminated water exposure at Camp Lejeune, a Marine Corps military training base in North Carolina, Laborde Earles Injury Lawyers can help you file a compensation claim against the U.S. government. Currently, Congress is considering the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022. If this legislation becomes law, affected service members and military families can file lawsuits for health problems associated with the base’s tainted water supply.
As of this writing, U.S. Marine veterans and civilians cannot sue the government for compensation or wrongful death because North Carolina’s statute of limitations deadline has expired. However, if the Act passes, it will extend the deadline by two years, giving people time to take action. You can discuss your legal options with us today during a free consultation. We are a contingency firm, which means we can start on your case for free. We do not get paid unless we win your case.
Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawsuit Update – July 2022
As of mid-July 2022, the Camp Lejeune Justice Act is pending. On July 13, 2022, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Honoring Our PACT Act of 2022 by a 342-88 vote. The PACT Act includes the Camp Lejeune legislation. The bill is now headed to the Senate for another vote.
Before the House passed the legislation, it issued a blue slip objection in June 2022, delaying the bill’s passage. Before the U.S. Senate sent a slightly revised bill back to the House for consideration, it added language about a tax provision to a version of the bill that the House approved in March 2022.
As Roll Call explains, the provision concerns a tax benefit for health care professionals who work at clinics in rural Virginia. Upon learning of this revision, the House raised a blue slip objection, saying revenue and tax bills must start in the House, per the U.S. Constitution. This procedural error is widely viewed as the reason why the proposed legislation was at a standstill.
June 2022 Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Update
As noted above, the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 is part of the Honoring Our PACT Act of 2022. “PACT” stands for “Promising to Address Comprehensive Toxics.” If signed into law, the PACT Act will expand health care benefits to U.S. veterans who have suffered toxic exposure during service. This includes veterans and others who came into contact with contaminated water supplies at Camp Lejeune and subsequently developed various cancers and respiratory illnesses.
Before the blue slip objection occurred, the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 appeared to be on a smooth path to becoming law. On June 15, 2022, the Senate considered a slightly amended version. A day later, on June 16, 2022, it passed the Honoring Our PACT Act of 2022 with an 84-13 vote. The slightly revised bill then went back to the House for consideration, and shortly after, the blue slip objection issue surfaced.
Some anticipate that once the technical error regarding the tax provision is resolved, the proposed bill will pass both houses and move on to the president, who will sign it into law. However, until the president signs the legislation, it is not law. But that does not mean potential claimants should wait until the law passes to prepare and file their cases. Laborde Earles Injury Lawyers is ready to help you or your loved one build a case today.
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Camp Lejeune Opened in the 1940s, But Contaminated Water Was Not Confirmed Until the 1980s
Camp Lejeune, a U.S. Marine Corps Base covering almost 250 square miles in Jacksonville, North Carolina, opened in 1942. In 1982, 40 years later, the U.S. government found that the base’s groundwater supply contained hazardous contaminants above recommended levels.
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), scientific and medical evidence confirms these contaminants can cause disease and other health complications in the people exposed to them. In addition to service members and their families, anyone who lived, worked, or visited Camp Lejeune likely came into contact with the tainted water supply. People drank the water, bathed and washed their clothes in it, and used it for other purposes.
The presence of the chemicals at Camp Lejeune is well documented. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) offers an extensive roundup of the chemicals found on the site. Those who studied the site took samples from several water wells, which revealed that trichloroethylene (TCE), tetrachloroethylene (PCE), benzene, and vinyl chloride (VC) were in the base’s drinking water. These chemicals and others were used in various industrial products, including degreasers and dry-cleaning solvents.
How Do You Know If You Were Exposed to Chemicals at Camp Lejeune?
Per ATSDR, whether you develop a health issue after chemical exposure depends on a few factors, including:
- How much and how long you were exposed
- When you were exposed (such as during pregnancy, infancy, childhood, or adulthood)
- How you encountered the chemical(s) (e.g., eating, drinking, or breathing)
- Your personal traits and habits
Illnesses Associated With Camp Lejeune’s Contaminated Water Supply
It is believed that thousands of service members and their families used the water supply during their time at Camp Lejeune between the early 1950s to the late 1980s. It is also possible that people who lived or spent some time there between 1953 and 1987 may not even know they were exposed to toxic chemicals.
Various cancers are linked to chemicals once found in Camp Lejeune’s water, including those that VA’s disability benefits cover. They are:
- Adult leukemia
- Bladder cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Liver cancer
- Multiple myeloma
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
Other injuries are also associated with water contamination on the base, including:
- Aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes
- Parkinson’s disease
- Bladder cancer
- Breast cancer
- Esophageal cancer
- Female infertility
- Hepatic steatosis
- Kidney cancer
- Lung cancer
- Multiple myeloma
- Myelodysplastic syndromes
- Neurobehavioral effects
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Renal toxicity
Birth defects are also associated with Camp Lejeune’s contaminated water supplies, as pregnant women used the water while on base. If a new federal law clears the way, lawsuits concerning these birth defects could be filed as well.
VA Offers Disability Benefits for Camp Lejeune Survivors
In 2012, President Obama signed the Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012, which cleared the way for VA to provide health care and disability benefits for eligible claimants.
People who lived or worked at Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) New River between Aug. 1, 1953, and Dec. 31, 1987, for at least 30 days are eligible. Only honorably discharged veterans are eligible for disability benefits in addition to the residency dates. Per VA’s website, the following parties are eligible for free health benefits:
- National Guard members
In addition to discharge status and residency dates, a claimant must have a formal diagnosis of one or more of the conditions associated with Camp Lejeune’s unsafe water supply. Veterans, along with their family members, can also receive pay for their out-of-pocket health care costs for various conditions, many of which are listed above.
All disability compensation veterans and their families apply for must be documented with supporting evidence. The same applies to those who plan to sue for Camp Lejeune compensation should the pending legislation become law.
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Who Can File a Lawsuit Under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022?
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 means people who spent time at Camp Lejeune between Aug. 1, 1953, and Dec. 31, 1987, can file a personal lawsuit or mass tort action against the U.S. government for compensation. Injury lawsuits seek to hold negligent parties accountable for a person’s damages. In this case, federal agencies and others were negligent in their handling of the toxic water supply at Camp Lejeune.
Generally, to be eligible to sue, plaintiffs must prove:
- They or a family member spent time at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days total between Aug. 1, 1953, and Dec. 31, 1987.
- They or a family member was officially diagnosed with an illness or injury that can be traced back to Camp Lejeune’s contaminated water supply.
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Recoverable Damages in a Camp Lejeune Toxic Water Contamination Case
If the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 becomes law, you could recover damages related to your illness. These include:
- Medical expenses
- Disability benefits
- Lost income and lost or reduced ability to earn income
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress, mental anguish
- Loss of life enjoyment
- Loss of companionship
Recovering Wrongful Death Damages Under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022
Families who have lost loved ones to illnesses traced to contaminated water exposure at Camp Lejeune could file a wrongful death lawsuit if the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 becomes law. Any of the conditions linked to Camp Lejeune’s contaminated water supply can be fatal.
You and your family could file a wrongful death lawsuit for a late relative who died from an illness linked to the base’s water supply, even if they died long ago. Your late relative must have a) lived, worked, or spent time at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days between Aug. 1, 1953, and Dec. 31, 1987, and b) died from an illness linked to the chemicals found in Camp Lejeune’s toxic water supply.
Wrongful death actions can compensate family members for losses they suffered because of their relative’s death. Typical wrongful death damages include:
- The decedent’s medical expenses
- Funeral, burial, and cremation costs
- Loss of the decedent’s household income
- Loss of the decedent’s companionship, guidance, etc.
We Can Assess All of Your Damages
Laborde Earles Injury Lawyers’ legal team will look at all damages you and your family suffered and establish a financial value for each. This includes those with no fixed dollar amount, such as pain and suffering. We can lead your entire compensation case and work toward getting you the settlement award you need to manage your life. We will seek the maximum amount possible from the parties responsible for the cancer-causing chemicals found in Camp Lejeune’s water supply.
How Our Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawyer Can Help
When you work with an attorney from our firm on a Camp Lejeune compensation case, we can seek financial recovery for you and your family. We can help you gather evidence to prove you and/or your family member became ill after using toxic water at Camp Lejeune. This evidence includes:
- Documentation showing military time served at Camp Lejeune
- Documentation showing when you or your loved one lived on the base between Aug. 1, 1953, and Dec. 31, 1987
- Medical expenses paid for a condition covered under VA’s disability benefits
- Medical records showing the diagnosed condition or illness
- VA disability records (if you are receiving VA benefits for Camp Lejeune-related illness)
When you work with our legal team, we can also:
- Identify all parties who contributed to the contaminated water supply that caused your illness (In addition to the federal government, this can be regulatory agencies, water treatment facilities, and others.)
- Speak with witnesses who support your account of events and document their testimonies
- Consult with independent medical professionals, economists, and other specialists to understand how your condition affects your quality of life
- Protect your rights and interests and advise you on all developments for your case
We will take care of all paperwork, manage communications with all parties, and keep your Camp Lejeune lawsuit case on track, meeting every legal deadline. No two cases are the same, so we will customize your case and legal strategy according to your situation. We can talk with you about your potential case during a free consultation. Once we know the specifics, we can offer advice that addresses your concerns and unique experiences.
Past Camp Lejeune Toxic Water Litigation
The toxic water contamination at Camp Lejeune has been an issue for a long time. Past litigants tried to recover damages concerning the illnesses that the base’s water is believed to have caused, but they were not successful. Here’s a quick roundup of some of those early cases:
Jones v. the United States
Laura J. Jones of Iowa sued the U.S. government in 2009, claiming her non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma could be traced back to when she lived at Camp Lejeune with her husband, a Marine, between 1980 and 1983. She received a non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma diagnosis in 2003.
After that time, she learned that the water at Camp Lejeune was contaminated with the chemicals tetrachloroethylene, trichloroethylene, dicloroethylene, vinyl chloride, and benzene. She alleged that she was exposed to toxins in the Marine base’s water supply when using the water in their home.
Jones first filed an administrative complaint with the Department of the Navy in October 2007. She then filed a lawsuit under the Federal Torts Claims Act (FTCA) in July 2009 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina. The U.S. government filed motions to dismiss Jones’ case, citing the statute of limitations under the FTCA, but the district court denied those motions.
Shriberg v. the United States
Joel Shriberg, a former Marine who lived and worked at Camp Lejeune in the late 1950s, sued the federal government for $16 million in 2011, saying his 2004 breast cancer diagnosis was linked to the contaminated water supply at Camp Lejeune. He claimed that since breast cancer did not run in his family, he was possibly exposed to chemicals when he drank the water while living on the military base. Shriberg believed this is what caused his cancer, which eventually spread to his lungs.
Shriberg was honorably discharged after serving as a corporal clerk with the 155th Howitzer Battalion. Shriberg filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina. His complaint says the U.S. government could have done more to ensure Camp Lejeune’s water was safe to use and that he was not warned or informed about the toxins.
These cases could signal what future cases could look like should the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 becomes law.
Call Us Today for a Free Consultation for a Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawsuit
At Laborde Earles Injury Lawyers, we take our clients’ recoveries seriously. To date, our case results include more than $200 million in trial verdicts and settlements for our clients. We fight hard for them to have the money they need to take care of themselves and their families.
If you or a loved one suffered exposure to toxins at Camp Lejeune, you deserve the chance to seek compensation for your injuries or illnesses. If the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 becomes law, you will have an opportunity to seek your due. Call us today for a free, no-obligation consultation. We want you to understand your legal options and how we can help you with your potential case.
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