Camp Lejeune Lawsuit Update
New legislation recently signed into law by President Biden opens the door for Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuits to be filed in federal court for a limited time.
Camp Lejeune is a Marine Corps military base located in North Carolina, spanning more than 246 square miles off the coast. The base, first opened in 1941, has been the home to millions of military service members, their families, and civilians over the years. People who lived at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days between 1953 and 1987 may have the right to file a lawsuit and seek compensation from the government.
The private water supply at the base became contaminated as a result of runoff from a nearby dry cleaner as well as from the military base itself. Specifically, dangerously toxic levels — between 240 to 3,400 times the limit set by the EPA — of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including trichloroethylene (TCE) and tetrachloroethylene (PCE), were identified.
Worse, considerable evidence indicates that the government had knowledge of the water contamination and the risks it posed to those who used it but did nothing. Evidence further suggests that the government actively concealed information about the contaminated water supply.
Early VOC contamination was detected in the 1940s, and the Navy deemed the water non-potable and shut down those wells. However, new wells were opened nearby, and nothing was done to ensure that they were free of dangerous chemical runoff.
In the 1980s, the United States Marine Corp began investigating potential contamination issues. The military was formally advised that many wells were poisoned and unsuitable for human use. Despite this information, the USMC took no action to protect its service members and staff. To add insult to injury, the USMC submitted a report to the Environmental Protection Agency in 1983 stating that Camp Lejeune had no contamination issue, despite evidence to the contrary.
In 1984, a new investigation discovered that the water wells at Camp Lejeune were not only contaminated with dangerously high levels of TCE and PCE but also benzene. The wells were shut down, and the state of North Carolina was notified about the TCE and PCE contamination but not about the presence of benzene in the water supply. The USMC also withheld this information in a 1992 federal health report.
By 2005, the Justice Department and the EPA had launched a full-scale investigation into the water contamination at Camp Lejeune. Since then, more than 70 chemical contaminants have been identified in the water supply at Camp Lejeune.
Several independent studies have focused on Camp Lejeune’s water contamination and related adverse health events. Ultimately, the consensus was the same: People exposed to the water supply at Camp Lejeune were at a heightened risk of cancer, birth defects, immune disorders, Parkinson’s disease, aplastic anemia, infertility, brain damage, ALS, and death.
Now, thanks to the Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Act of 2022, people who have suffered a serious medical condition or lost a loved one due to VOC exposure at the base can fight back and demand justice.
Case Works supports law firms working on Camp Lejeune water contamination and other mass tort cases.
History of Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawsuits
This isn’t the first opportunity victims of water contamination have had to pursue compensation in Camp Lejeune lawsuits.
First Camp Lejeune Lawsuits Filed in 2005
In 2005, several members of the United States Marine Corps, along with their families and employees at the base, filed lawsuits under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). The lawsuits alleged that the plaintiffs suffered severe health problems as a direct result of water contamination at Camp Lejeune.
More Than 850 Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawsuits Consolidated into Multidistrict Litigation
By 2016, more than 850 FTCA water contamination lawsuits had been filed across the nation. To save the plaintiffs and government time and money, these cases were consolidated into a multidistrict litigation (MDL) in 2016.
Camp Lejeune Lawsuits Dismissed in Federal Court, Appeals Exhausted
The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia dismissed all Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuits against the U.S. government in 2016, citing North Carolina’s 10-year statute of repose.
Under the law, victims have no more than 10 years from the date they are injured to file a civil claim for damages. The government raised this issue, arguing that nearly two decades had passed since the water supply at Camp Lejeune had been contaminated and used by residents.
The decision was appealed, but to no avail. Service members who had dedicated their lives to the USMC and Navy, along with family members and civilian employees, were left without recourse.
Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2021 Introduced into House of Representatives
In March 2021, the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2021 was introduced into the House of Representatives. The bill proposed a solution for aggrieved military service members and civilians: the opportunity to file a lawsuit in federal court.
Initially, the bill went nowhere. In January 2022, it was reintroduced as the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 (CLJA) by Congressman Matt Cartwright (DNC) and 16 representatives.
By February 2022, the CLJA had been consolidated into a larger bill — the Honoring Our Pact Act of 2022 (PACT Act). The PACT Act addressed resources and benefits for veterans exposed to chemicals and toxic substances during their military service.
In July 2022, the PACT Act was passed by the House of Representatives and sent to the Senate.
Honoring Our Pact Act Passed by Congress
On August 2, 2022, the Senate passed the Camp Lejeune Justice Act as part of the PACT Act.
President Biden signed the bill into law on Monday, August 8, 2022.
Now, individuals who have developed health problems or grieved the untimely loss of family members because of water contamination at Camp Lejeune have the opportunity to pursue monetary justice.
Camp Lejeune Case Management for Your Firm
Case Works can help your firm prepare its Camp Lejeune claims for settlement. Let our team handle your water contamination mass tort cases. Contact us today to learn about the services we offer.