On August 9, 2022, President Biden signed the PACT Act, expanding the healthcare rights of veterans to claim additional injuries from the Vietnam and Gulf Wars, as well as the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The new law also allows veterans and their families stationed at or visiting Camp Lejeune in North Carolina to file suit for compensation for injuries due to contaminated water on base.
You may be able to file a Camp Lejeune lawsuit if you or a family member served at Camp Lejeune between 1953 and 1987 and suffer from cancer, infertility, neurological disorder, kidney failure, or similar issues. Please call 844-636-7459 for more information about if you qualify for compensation.
Water Contamination at Camp Lejeune, 1953-1987
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) reports that two of eight water treatment plants that supplied Camp Lejeune had high levels of contamination from volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Toxic chemicals included:
- Tetrachloroethylene (PCE or PERC)
- Trichloroethylene (TCE)
- Vinyl chloride
People living on the base used contaminated water for laundry, washing dishes, cleaning, filling pools, and drinking. These chemicals can cause several forms of cancer, congenital disabilities, neurological damage, and other serious issues.
The contaminated water treatment plants that supplied the base were the Tarawa Terrace Treatment Plant and the Hadnot Point Treatment Plant. The contamination led to higher rates of congenital disabilities in children at Camp Lejeune, according to the CDC and ATSDR. The ATSDR completed a water modeling study to determine exposure levels over the course of contamination.
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act and PACT Act
The new PACT Act includes the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, which allows anyone who served, worked, or lived on base at Camp Lejeune for 30 days between 1953 and 1987 to pursue legal action by a lawsuit in North Carolina’s Eastern District Court. The 30 days are cumulative, not continuous, meaning someone who visited for a few days at a time could have accumulated 30 days of exposure to qualify.
Previous lawsuits against Camp Lejeune for water contamination resulted in multi-district litigation and dismissal due to North Carolina’s statute of repose, which effectively enforced a statute of limitations of three years from the last known contamination of the water at Camp Lejeune.
The new Camp Lejeune Justice Act will allow injured veterans, active service members, family members, and civilian workers who lived or worked at Camp Lejeune between January 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987, to file new lawsuits against potentially liable parties, including:
- The U.S. government
- Regulatory or other government agencies
- Local businesses that may have contributed to local water contamination
- Any other negligent party that could have contributed to the contamination or injury
What Conditions Qualify?
As of now, 15 conditions qualify for a new Camp Lejeune lawsuit for water contamination injuries, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Applicable conditions include:
- Bladder cancer
- Breast cancer
- Esophageal cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Multiple myeloma
- Myelodysplastic syndromes
- Renal toxicity
- Hepatic steatosis
- Female infertility
- Some types of lung cancers
- Neurobehavioral effects (Parkinson’s disease, ALS, etc.)
You may also qualify with a related condition similar to those listed above, such as:
- Cervical cancer
- Liver cancer
- Aplastic anemia
- Ovarian cancer
- Stomach cancer
- Congenital disabilities
- Birth injury
As of now, each person injured by contaminated water at Camp Lejeune will need to file their own lawsuit against potentially negligent parties in a Camp Lejeune lawsuit in a “mass tort action.” The case could develop into a class action lawsuit in the future.
What Evidence Will You Need?
You will need documentation and evidence to prove that you experienced direct exposure to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune and suffered a subsequent diagnosis of any of the conditions listed above. Evidence to collect includes:
- Proof of exposure to Camp Lejeune contaminated water between 1953 and 1987. You must be able to establish a timeline of exposure for you or your loved one at Camp Lejeune or MCAS New River.
- Diagnosis with one of the verified conditions connected to Camp Lejeune contaminated water. The ATSDR estimates that exposure to toxic chemicals in the water at Camp Lejeune affected over one million people. You must be able to show a diagnosis of any of the proven conditions brought about by exposure to contaminated water.
Additionally, claimants must file at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina in Raleigh, NC. You must also file within two years of the date the new statute of limitations becomes effective after exhausting administrative remedies.
Plaintiffs in a Camp Lejeune lawsuit also must meet the burden of proof, meaning that if they can’t provide evidence to support a definite causal relationship, they must present enough evidence to conclude that a causal relationship is at least 51% likely.
Evidence that could support a causal relationship between their injuries or the injuries of their loved one would include documentation such as medical records, ongoing treatment records, studies, reports, and records of long-term costs.
What Compensation Can You Pursue?
The VA allows for specific benefits and reimbursements to both eligible veterans and Camp Lejeune Family Members (CLFMs). Benefits and compensation may differ between veterans and family members.
Veterans and their families can already qualify for reimbursement for out-of-pocket healthcare costs from the VA. However, veterans and CLFMs will need to file a Camp Lejeune lawsuit to pursue additional damages, including lost wages, pain and suffering, long-term disability, and more.
Where previous legislation in the Honoring American’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act allowed veterans and their families to pursue healthcare benefits, the Camp Lejeune Justice Act allows veterans and their families to seek compensation beyond those benefits. These include legal compensation for their injuries due to toxic chemicals exposure.
People who can pursue compensation for their injuries include civilian and military workers on base, family members who lived on base or visited for a cumulative 30 days, and individuals exposed in utero.
Is This a Class Action Lawsuit?
No, this is not a class action lawsuit. Instead, plaintiffs must file individual suits in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina in a mass tort action. A mass tort action differs from a class action lawsuit in that the court cannot certify a class. Instead, the court typically combines the cases into a mass tort lawsuit or multi-district litigation while maintaining the independent rights of each plaintiff.
Plaintiffs retain their individual rights to an attorney in their respective cases but must work within the bounds of the mass tort lawsuit procedures. By contrast, in a class action suit, the court combines the rights of the class within a small group of plaintiff representatives. Outside of the representatives, the class has no control over the lawsuit proceedings.
Mass tort actions typically involve plaintiffs from the same geographic area and usually involve negligence or misconduct. They’re useful when a group of plaintiffs does not qualify as a class for a class action lawsuit.
Class action suits typically involve a much larger group of plaintiffs, making a class certification much more desirable for court resources. Rule 23 lays out the requirement for certification of a class for a class action lawsuit, including:
- The number of plaintiffs is great enough to make individual suits impractical.
- The applicable case law across the class is similar.
- The plaintiffs share the same claims against the defendant(s), and the defending party or parties share a common defense.
- The class representatives are fit to represent the class interests fairly.
In some circumstances, the court may see fit to certify a class from a mass tort action, such as if the number of plaintiffs grows large enough or have appropriate qualifications to form a class. You also have the right to opt out of a class action lawsuit to pursue an individual lawsuit.
If you or a family member intends to file a Camp Lejeune lawsuit, ask your attorney about the possibility of a class action lawsuit. An experienced mass tort or class action attorney can help you determine the best course of action to pursue fair compensation for your injuries.
How Long Will It Take to Get Compensation?
Whether your Camp Lejeune lawsuit is part of a mass tort suit or a class action lawsuit, it could spend several years in court before possibly reaching a settlement.
Get More Information about Filing a Camp Lejeune Lawsuit in Dallas
You may be eligible to file a lawsuit for compensation if you or a family member now has any of the conditions mentioned above or has died due to a condition after living or working at Camp Lejeune. The PACT Act and Camp Lejeune Justice Act allow veterans, civilian workers, family members, and other affected parties to pursue compensation for their injuries after exposure to contaminated water.
If you now live in Dallas and need more information about filing a Camp Lejeune lawsuit for exposure to toxic chemicals in contaminated water between 1953 and 1987, call today at 844-636-7459.