Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawsuit
Between 1953 and 1987, members of the United States military, contractors, and civilian residents at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina were exposed to hazardous chemicals in the water supply. The government was aware of the hazardous situation yet took no action.
Victims may have the right to file a lawsuit and demand compensation for resulting health issues.
The Navy should have known that the water at Camp Lejeune was contaminated and unsuitable for human consumption. But they didn’t do anything about it, which put millions of lives at risk.
If you have a family member who has lived at Camp Lejeune and then been diagnosed with a serious medical condition, such as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, multiple myeloma, or other types of cancer, you may be able to file a lawsuit about the water contamination.
Many military servicemembers were stationed in that area, along with their family members and civilians.
Camp Lejeune was contaminated from 1953 to 1987 with dangerous chemicals and toxins.
The most notable toxins that have been found in the water include trichloroethylene (TCE), tetrachloroethylene (PCE), Benzene, and Vinyl chloride (VC).
These toxins are associated with an increased risk for cancer, neurologic disorders, and other serious health conditions.
It’s been said that a nearby dry cleaner, which opened in 1953 near Camp Lejeune, threw these and other hazardous chemicals into local water well fields, resulting in widespread contamination.
Furthermore, the military’s usage of VOCs on the base has been accused of contributing to water well pollution.
Lawsuits allege that the government knew that the water supply was contaminated yet failed to:
- Take necessary steps to prevent contamination and provide potable water, or
- Warn servicemembers or residents about the potential risks of consuming the water supply.
The military exposed many service members and residents for three decades to dangerous chemicals.
As a result, many people are struggling with health problems. Lawsuits have been filed to hold the government accountable for its negligent actions.
If you have qualifying service at Camp Lejeune and a current diagnosis of one of the conditions listed below, you may be able to get disability benefits.
Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Injuries
Cancers linked to the water contamination from Camp Lejeune include:
- Bladder cancer
- Breast cancer
- Esophageal cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Liver cancer
- Lung cancer
- Myelodysplastic syndromes
- Multiple myeloma
- Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
Other diseases named in Camp Lejeune lawsuits include:
- Cardiac defect
- Fatty liver disease (hepatic steatosis)
- Female infertility
- Neurobehavioral effects
- Parkinson’s disease
- Renal toxicity
Camp Lejeune Resources: EPA 1992 Camp LeJeune Contaminated Water Report, EPA – 1995, EPA 1996, EPA 1997, EPA 2001, North Carolina Toxic Release Report 2001
Who Can Join or File A Lawsuit
Anyone who lived on Camp LeJeune for at least 30 days between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987, and has:
- (a) lost a family member or
- (b) been diagnosed with an illness related to VOC exposure,
This includes military personnel, contractors, residents and family members for anyone who developed one of the listed Birth Injuries, Cancers or Parkinson’s disease after being on the base for 30 days or more within the date range.
- 30 days accumulated during the years 1953 to 1987.
may have the right to file a lawsuit.
What Documents are Needed to File a Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawsuit?
- Documents providing residence at Camp Lejeune
- Military service records indicating dates and locations served
- Medical records and diagnoses
- Medical bills
- Travel records
- Health care information
- Records on disability benefits or VA compensation benefits
What is the Time Frame to File a Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawsuit?
The time frame to file a Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuit is limited.
Two years from the passage of the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 will be given to all injury claims that arose before its implementation.
On March 3, 2022, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, and if the Senate passes this bill, it paves the way for those who were harmed by Camp Lejeune’s water to bring a lawsuit. Under the bill, even older claims previously dismissed under North Carolina law could be filed within two years or March 2024.
Are VA Benefits Available to Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Victims?
In January 2017, the Obama administration put in place a disability claims process through the Veteran’s Administration (VA) to provide disability benefits for veterans, reservists, and guardsmen diagnosed with a presumptive medical condition associated with exposure to Camp Lejeune contaminated water.
Citation: VA Disability Claims.
Am I eligible for disability benefits from VA?
You may be eligible for disability benefits if you meet these requirements.
Both of these must be true:
- You served at Camp Lejeune or MCAS New River for at least 30 cumulative days from August 1953 through December 1987, and
- You didn’t receive a dishonorable discharge when you separated from the military
And you must have a diagnosis of one or more of these presumptive conditions:
- Adult leukemia
- Aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes
- Bladder cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Liver cancer
- Multiple myeloma
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Parkinson’s disease
What kind of benefits can I get?
- Health care
- Compensation (payments)
How do I get these benefits?
You’ll need to file a claim for disability compensation and provide this evidence (supporting documents):
- Your military records showing you served at Camp Lejeune or MCAS New River for at least 30 days from August 1953 through December 1987 while on active duty, or in the National Guard or Reserves, and
- Medical records stating that you have 1 or more of the 8 illnesses on the presumptive conditions list (see above)
Why Are Past Residents Filing Lawsuits Against Camp Lejeune?
Residents, military personnel and workers at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune are filing claims for compensation due to health issues incurred due to the base’s water pollution.
Since the early 1950s, toxic chemicals have been found in on-base water treatment plants that supplied drinking water, cooked with and bathed in by personnel.
Although the poisoned wells were closed in 1985, individuals who drank contaminated water subsequently developed serious medical problems, including neurological disorders, cancer, and other illnesses.
Women who consumed the hazardous water miscarried and gave birth to children with birth defects.
Who Is Being Sued in Camp Lejeune Lawsuit?
The defendant is the United States Federal Government.
Camp LeJeune Water Contamination Settlement Amounts
The settlement compensation for Camp Lejeune injuries will be based on how bad the victims’ injuries are. This includes how much the drinking water was contaminated. There are many types of injuries from this toxic water. So, the Camp Lejeune settlement amounts will differ for each type of injury.
What Average Camp Lejeune Cancer Settlement Amounts?
Many of these Camp Lejeune water contamination cases are related to cancer.
- In other mass tort litigation involving cancer, the typical settlement benchmark is between $150,000 – $750,000.
Settlement Amounts for Cancer and Parkinson’s Disease
- The greatest Camp Lejeune compensation amounts will go to cancer sufferers and Parkinson’s disease claimants and their families.
- This means that everyone will not get the same payout when they settle.
- A complex system will give more money to people who have suffered more.
What’s My Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Claim Worth?
It is difficult to give an exact answer. Each victim has been exposed to different amounts of TCE and PCE for varying lengths of time, and each person’s exposure will impact them differently.
Every scenario is unique, but there are several elements to consider when calculating how much compensation you may obtain if you bring a Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuit.
Some essential things you need to think about include:
- The illnesses or diseases you’ve been diagnosed with
- Your prognosis
- The past, future, and medical expenses you have because of your water contamination illness
- The income you’ve lost out on because of your disease
- Other out-of-pocket expenses
- The pain and suffering you’ve endured
- Your age
Your illness has disrupted the more serious your health issues and the more your life, the higher your case will be valued.
The quickest way to determine how much a settlement in your Camp Lejeune water contamination case might be is to immediately contact an expert personal injury lawyer.
Camp Lejeune Payouts
The decision about how much money to give to Camp Lejeune victims as part of a settlement will be made partly based on politics and policy instead of how much money victims can expect from a jury.
One thing that will help determine the final settlement amount is the $6.7 billion the government has already set aside to pay Camp Lejeune victims and jury payouts.
This number could go up or down, but it will give the Justice Department a good idea of how much money it should offer victims as part of a settlement.
How Do The Attorneys Get Paid?
The Federal Tort Claim Act limits the amount of the contingency fee a lawyer can receive. This cap is 25%.
This is predicated on the assumption that the final version of the Act includes the FTCA attorneys’ fee provisions.
Sections Identifying Who Qualifies to File A Lawsuit?
Read the Camp Lejeune Justice Act 2022
Read: H.R.3967 – Honoring our PACT Act of 2022
Broad Language in Camp Lejeune Justice Act 2022
The very broad eligibility requirements are outlined in § 804(b) of the CLJA:
An individual, including a veteran, . . . or the legal representative of such an individual, who resided, worked, or was otherwise exposed (including in utero 22 exposure) for not less than 30 days during the period beginning on August 1, 1953, and ending on December 31, 1987, to water at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
This language says that people who can prove they were exposed to the water at Camp Lejeune for at least one month during the period of contamination (i.e., 1953 to 1987) can file a claim under the CLJA. The eligibility requirements are set out below.
Subsection (A): Individual, Veteran, or Legal Representative
CLJA § 804(b) states those eligible to bring a case under the CLJA will include “[a]n individual, including a veteran, … or the legal representative of such an individual[.]”
This language protects anyone stationed at Camp Lejeune during the designated period.
If a Camp Lejeune resident or employee dies, their family members or someone they designated as their “legally authorized representative” might be able to file a lawsuit against the government.
Subsection (B): Resided, Worked, or Otherwise Exposed (Including In Utero)
The language § 804(b) of the CLJA says that eligibility extends to anyone who can prove that they lived or worked at Camp Lejeune.
People who lived at Camp Lejeune were mostly limited to Marines and their families. People who worked at Camp Lejeune included civilians, government contractors, and military personnel.
The language “including in utero” means that people exposed to the water at Camp Lejeune while still developing fetuses inside their mother’s womb are eligible for benefits.
During the contamination period, 20,000 to 30,000 expectant mothers lived at Camp Lejeune for at least a month.
These studies have also demonstrated that prenatal exposure to Lejeune contaminated water increased the incidence of birth defects.
Individuals born with birth defects due to in-utero exposure to the Lejeune water will be able to bring a CLJA claim. The phrase “or was exposed” in subsection (b) is intended to be a catch-all phrase that includes everyone who may not have lived or worked at Camp Lejeune but may show that they were exposed to contaminated water.
For example, employees based near the base but who used or received contaminated water from Camp Lejeune would fall under this category.
Subsection (C): For Not Less Than 30 Days
The final eligibility condition under CLJA is that the individual’s connection to Camp Lejeune (either as a resident, employee, or otherwise) lasted for a cumulative total of 30 days.
In addition, the 30-day period of living or working at Camp Lejeune had to occur during the recognized “contamination period”: August 1, 1953, through December 31, 1987.
What Toxins Were Found in the Water at Camp Lejeune?
The Camp Lejeune water contamination incident is the most severe case of water pollution in United States history.
Over three decades, the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune was given water that was laced with volatile organic compounds (VOCs):
- dry cleaning solvents
- chemicals used on heavy machinery
- almost seventy (70) other toxic substances
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease (ATSDR) has conducted significant studies on Camp Lejeune’s water contamination and associated health impacts.
The agency has published numerous pages detailing the connections between water contamination and various sometimes deadly illnesses.
4 Toxic Substances that Contaminated Drinking Water at Camp Lejeune
Toxic chemicals from industrial and commercial activities, garbage disposal sites, underground storage tanks, and military operations leaked into drinking water sources utilized by around a million people over 30 years.
Various toxic chemicals were discovered in the water at Camp Lejeune, including:
- Tetrachloroethylene (PCE or PERC)
- Trichloroethylene (TCE)
- Vinyl Chloride
Tetrachloroethylene (PCE or PERC)
Tetrachloroethylene, commonly known as PCE or PERC, has been utilized in many applications, including dry-cleaning textiles, metal machinery degreasing, and the production of other chemicals.
PERC has been linked to an increased risk of bladder cancer, multiple myeloma, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in recent years, as well as neurobehavioral effects. PERC most likely entered the water supply from a dry-cleaning business near the base.
Trichloroethylene (TCE) is a metal-cleaner solvent. TCE exposure has been linked to kidney cancer, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, other tumors, and cardiac issues.
Vinyl chloride is a colorless, flammable gas used to make many plastic goods, such as PVC pipes and wire coatings.
In the past, vinyl chloride was used in products like makeup, refrigerants, and household consumables. Heavy exposure to vinyl chloride has been linked to multiple myeloma, liver cancer, and other cancers.
Benzene is an organic chemical that may be found in various industrial products. Benzene has been linked to cancer in humans. Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and other types of leukemia are associated.
Citations: Benzene Cancer.Gov, PERC CDC.Gov, Cancer.Gov, Trichloroethylene (TCE) Cancer.Gov CDC.Gov ATSDR LeJeune
Where did the toxic chemicals in the water come from?
The contaminated water affected the entire base: the base’s housing and buildings, as well as MCAS New River. Camp Lejeune is located near MCAS New River, within a short distance.
The Tarawa Terrace Treatment Plant and Hadnot Point Treatment Plant are two of the eight water treatment facilities that supply Camp Lejeune.
When was Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Discovered?
The Camp Lejeune military training facility, currently part of the combined installation with Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) New River, was established in 1942 in Jacksonville, North Carolina.
It’s become one of the Corp’s busiest and largest bases. In 1982, two water supply systems at the base were found to contain the industrial solvents trichloroethylene (TCE) and perchloroethylene (PCE).
According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), pesticides were found in some locations at levels 400 times higher than those permitted by safety standards.
Subsequent testing revealed the water systems were also contaminated with benzene, a known carcinogen, and vinyl chloride (VC), a toxic substance that can form when TCE and PCE are broken down.
Spills at industrial sites on base, leaks from storage tanks, drums at dumps and storage lots, and improper dumping from an off-base dry cleaner are all possible sources.
The Tarawa Terrace and Hadnot Point water treatment plants supplied water to the two affected systems.
The two water treatment plants began operating in 1952 and 1943, respectively. These fed water to the following facilities:
- Enlisted-family housing
- Barracks for unmarried service personnel
- Base administrative offices
- Recreational areas
Hadnot Point treatment plant also fed water to:
- The base hospital
- An industrial area
- Full-time housing on the Holcomb Boulevard water system
The Department of Veterans Affairs, the Marine Corps, and the U.S. Department of Defense believe that from 1953 to 1987, over a million Marines and their family members who resided on Camp Lejeune, as well as non-Department of Defense employees living on or near the base, were exposed to these poisonous chemicals in the drinking water supply due to an unknown source.
Exposure to TCE, PCE, VC, and benzene is linked to numerous serious and life-threatening health hazards.
The wells in both the contaminated systems were closed from 1984 to 1985. The Tarawa Terrace water-treatment plant was shuttered in 1987. The camp was listed as an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Superfund site in 1989. The agency oversees the cleanup of some of the nation’s most contaminated land.
What did the U.S. Government Know about Camp Lejeune Water Contamination?
During the 1970s
According to the EPA, Camp Lejeune is a “considerable polluter” since the military’s policy of dumping oil and industrial sewage in storm drains and burying potentially radioactive materials has resulted in widespread pollution. Organic solvents have been known to be hazardous to human health for some time.
There is a regulation from 1974 that shows the military knew how dangerous these chemicals were. They also knew that if they were improperly dumped, it could contaminate the drinking water.
Camp Lejeune’s many wells were tested due to more stringent environmental controls.
In a report, William Neal Jr., chief of laboratory services for the Army lab, conducted testing and warned, “water highly contaminated.” He continued to sound the alarm over the next five months.
Even after obtaining those findings, the authorities did nothing to safeguard troops or their families from chemical exposure.
Trace amounts of organic chemicals were discovered in treated well water in October 1980, but the Marines didn’t receive the results until 1982.
Grainger Laboratories in Raleigh, North Carolina, was hired to test the water at Camp Lejeune. Two of the base’s largest living areas, where thousands of Marines and their families lived, were contaminated with “synthetic organic cleaning solvents.” The base chemist called for an investigation, but none was done.
One of the wells found gasoline at high levels. However, it was kept open until November, when concerns about tainted water at Camp Lejeune were made public. The wells were subsequently sealed.
What Are the Camp Lejeune Justice and Honoring Our Pact Acts?
In 2016, more than 800 Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuits were filed. However, after the lawsuits were consolidated into a Multi-District Litigation or MDL, a federal court held that the claims were barred under North Carolina’s 10-year statute of repose.
This law means that injury claims cannot be filed more than 10 years after an injury occurs.
Camp Lejeune Justice Act
The House passed the Camp Lejeune Justice Act on March 3, 2022, with bipartisan support. It is now pending Senate approval.
If the Senate passes the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022, individuals who have suffered health problems due to base-water contamination will be able to sue.
The House passed the Camp Lejeune Justice Act in a 256-174 vote. 222 Democrats and 34 Republicans voted in favor of the act.
“Anybody who served in the United States Marine Corps, and went for combat training, probably went to Camp Lejeune in North Carolina,” Rep. Cartwright told The Hill. “So this is not just a North Carolina issue; it’s a national issue.”
Citations: Congress.Gov, The Hill
Timeline of Congressional Bills
- In 2021, members of Congress introduced the Camp Lejeune Justice Act (CLJA).
- In 2022, the CLJA was consolidated into another bill, Honoring Our Pact Act (PACT), which addresses remedies for veterans exposed to toxic chemicals during their service tours.
The PACT Act is now signed into law, and North Carolina victims of water contamination at Camp Lejeune can sue the government for compensation.
How Can an Attorney Help Me With My Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Case?
The PACT Act will establish a deadline for filing a lawsuit after the law becomes effective. You’ll have only a certain amount of time to make your case, and you may be sure that the government will fight it.
Hiring an attorney to represent you and fight for compensation is key to getting the best outcome for you and your family.
We’re here to make things as simple as possible for you. We’ll take care of the claims process from start to finish, including everything from initial claims and filing appeals.
- Gather evidence and documentation that proves your diagnosis is related to the water you consumed while living at or near Camp Lejeune
- Enlist the help of respected experts and specialists as we prepare and value your case
- File a water contamination lawsuit within the time allotted by the PACT Act
- Negotiate with government counsel and other parties on your behalf
- Passionately argue your case at trial if you aren’t offered reasonable terms in a settlement
You’ve been through a lot. Allow our Personal Injury Lawyers to take your case forward for you.
We are prepared to devote the necessary resources and time to ensure you receive the largest possible settlement in your Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuit.
What Will it Cost to Hire a Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawyer?
We don’t want the fear of a lawyer’s fee to prevent you from receiving the legal counsel you need. After all, obtaining personal injury or wrongful death compensation through a lawyer can improve your chances of success and maximize your financial recovery.
Personal injury law firms typically work on contingency.
We don’t get paid unless we win your case. We’ll even cover the costs of litigation upfront.
Call to Discuss Your Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawsuit Today
Camp Lejeune’s water supply was contaminated, affecting millions of people. The government could have prevented this but didn’t.
If you have been diagnosed with a debilitating illness and lived at or near the North Carolina military base between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987, please contact us for help.
We can assist you in filing a water contamination lawsuit and obtaining the compensation you deserve for your medical expenses, missed income, and pain and suffering.