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Date Modified: March 27, 2023

For years, victims of Camp Lejeune faced injustices, and many even died without ever receiving care or benefits for their services. However, with the new PACT Act, this might change as the government and the Department of Veterans Affairs gears up to deliver on their promises.

If you are a victim of Camp Lejeune’s toxic water legacy, contact Ehline Law and our Camp Lejeune water contamination lawyer, as you may now pursue a Camp Lejeune lawsuit.

Overview of Camp Lejeune Water Contamination

The water contamination problem occurred between 1953 and 1987 when Camp Lejeune service members and their families bathed and ingested contaminated drinking water, with many reports suggesting water contamination as high as 240 to 3,400 times more than the safety standards.

Federal Investigations Found That Marine Corps Air Station Officials Hid Initial Testing Reports

In 1980, the US base Camp Lejeune authorities conducted water testing after new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations. In March 1981, one of the laboratories released a report stating that the water was heavily contaminated with chlorinated hydrocarbons.

Private Company Reports Found Heavy Water Contamination, but Marine Authorities Pushed the Matters Aside

A private company, Grainger Laboratories, hired by the United States Marine Corps to investigate the problem, released a report mentioning that they found trichloroethylene (TCE), tetrachloroethylene (PCE), and other volatile organic compounds in the base’s water supply. 

In 1982, a representative of Grainger Laboratories went to discuss the seriousness of the issue with the deputy director of Camp Lejeune’s utilities at the time, who was unwilling to discuss the matter.

Grainger Laboratories continued to warn the officials at the base multiple times until 1983, when marine officials scaled back on the water testing. The officials also failed to provide the test results to the EPA.

Traces of Benzene Hidden in Official Reports

In 1984, a company under the EPA Superfund conducted tests and found benzene, TCE, and PCE in the water at Camp Lejeune. 

In 1997, ATSDR, a federal public health agency, investigated the reports of contaminated water at Camp Lejeune and overlooked the evidence of benzene when preparing the report.

Years of Negligence Affected Millions of Veterans and Their Families

In 2009, finally, ATSDR admitted to Camp Lejeune water contamination and withdrew their 1997 report. 

For years, victims of the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune blamed birth defects, rare cancers, and other illnesses as bad luck. Unknown to them, service members, their families, and Camp Lejeune workers developed many diseases due to toxic water exposure.

Lawsuits and Challenges Veterans and Their Families Faced

The first lawsuit against the US government came in 2009 by Laura Jones, a wife of a veteran stationed at Camp Lejeune.

In 2010, the US House of Representatives introduced the Janey Ensminger Act, which would make veterans stationed at Camp Lejeune eligible for care through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Soon after, Congress passed the Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012.

However, even with all the bills passed, it was difficult for veterans to receive treatment or compensation for their illnesses. 

The North Carolina law, the statute of repose, restricted Camp Lejeune victims from pursuing lawsuits against the government. Fortunately, with the passing of Honoring our PACT Act of 2022, which includes the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022, these limitations do not apply to Camp Lejeune victims anymore.

Is the Pact Act Any Different?

On August 10, 2022, President Biden signed the PACT Act, fulfilling his promise to strengthen healthcare and the benefits provided to veterans.

Previously, Congress passed laws that aimed to benefit veterans. However, the PACT Act expands coverage to family members of the veterans who also lived on military bases and got exposed to toxic chemicals. It provides damages that cover Camp Lejeune veterans and their family members, unlike VA disability benefits that only cover the veterans.

The new law strips all immunities used in multi-district litigation, making it easier for veterans and their families to get relief.

Do You Qualify for Benefits under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022?

Veterans, family members of veterans, and workers working or residing at Camp Lejeune from August 1, 1953, to December 31, 1987, for a minimum of 30 days are eligible for benefits under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022.

All those eligible under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 can bring a civil action in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina if they’re suffering from the following:

  • Presumptive illnesses: The VA identified eight conditions for which the victims of contaminated water at Camp Lejeune can receive compensation without proving a service-related connection. These include adult leukemia, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Parkinson’s disease, myeloma, bladder, liver, and kidney cancer.
  • Other illnesses: There are nine illnesses linked to contaminated water at camp Lejeune, but the VA does not recognize them as presumptive illnesses. These include infertility, miscarriage, neurobehavioral effects, breast cancer, and lung cancer. Those suffering from non-presumptive conditions must prove that the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune caused their diseases.

If you’re unsure where to begin or need help pursuing legal action to recover compensation, immediately discuss your case with a skilled Camp Lejeune water contamination lawyer.

What Do You Need to Prove To Have a Valid Claim?

The injured victim must prove that they resided at Camp Lejeune and were exposed to the contaminated water for at least 30 days and establish that the exposure to Camp Lejeune water contamination caused their injuries.

Some evidence to establish the claimant’s exposure to contaminated water may include utility bills, military records, work or school records, and other relevant documents. If the injured victim suffers from non-presumptive illnesses, they must prove that the exposure to the contaminated water caused their deteriorating health.

If you are a family member of a veteran who lived at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days, you must prove your relationship with the veteran by submitting a marriage certificate.

The burden of proof is much lower for Camp Lejeune victims than other civil litigations. In typical civil cases, the plaintiff must prove that the evidence pointing to the illness resulting from chemicals is more than the evidence that indicates it is not. 

However, under the act, plaintiffs are only required to show that the causation is “at least likely as” the evidence that indicates it is not.

To meet the causation requirements, some of the evidence you can provide to support your claim includes expert medical professionals’ testimonies, clinical trial studies, and animal testing studies.

Although the burden of proof is much lower under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022, you need to build a strong case. A skilled Camp Lejeune water contamination attorney can help investigate your case, gather evidence, and fight for the compensation you deserve.

How Long Do You Have to File a Camp Lejeune Lawsuit?

Under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022, everyone eligible for benefits due to exposure to toxic chemicals at Camp Lejeune has two years following the date of the passing of the legislation to file a legal claim.

Those who already filed claims before the legislation and were denied by the VA may consider refiling their claim, and the VA will review it again under the new legislation.

Before filing a lawsuit, it is crucial to comply with the US Navy’s administrative process, which requires injured victims to file a claim with the Judge Advocate General’s Corps (JAG) first. If the JAG denies the claim, the injured victim has the right to pursue a Camp Lejeune lawsuit.

Damages You May Recover in a Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawsuit

If the VA denies your claim, don’t worry; you can now file a lawsuit and recover all the costs of medical treatment for your serious health concerns and other damages. 

You must work with an experienced attorney to pursue legal action and obtain compensatory damages, including the following:

  • Medical bills
  • Medications
  • Lost wages
  • Mental anguish
  • Emotional distress
  • Diminished enjoyment of life
  • Diminished earning capacity

If you’ve lost a loved one due to exposure to contaminated Camp Lejeune water supply, you may recover burial and funeral expenses, medical expenses, and other damages.

Protecting Your Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Case: Stick to Your Medical Treatment Plan

You must follow your doctor’s medical treatment plan and advice to ensure a strong Camp Lejeune water contamination case. 

Following medical treatment recommended by your doctor allows for necessary medical evidence to strengthen your toxic water contamination claim, including medical records, doctor’s notes, and medical expenses.

How Are VA Disability Benefits Different from a Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawsuit?

VA disability benefits provide veterans with disability compensation for service-related disabilities, while damages from Camp Lejeune suits are a much broader remedy as it covers medical expenses, lost wages, reduced quality of life, and much more.

Can Veterans Who Receive VA Disability Benefits File a Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawsuit?

The PACT Act allows veterans and their family members to receive damages from the federal government, which is different from the VA disability claims process, meaning veterans can receive VA disability benefits while pursuing damages under the PACT Act.

However, there will be an offset against VA benefits, Medicare, and Medicaid benefits for the same condition.

That shouldn’t discourage veterans from pursuing a lawsuit as they might receive more if they bring a civil action, including pain and suffering, lost wages, and others.

Is Camp Lejeune Class Action Lawsuit Better than Individual Claims?

Although class action lawsuits make perfect sense in situations where several people suffer injuries due to the negligence of one institution, we believe that it is not the best course of action for Camp Lejeune victims. Every Camp Lejeune victim deserves their own claim and settlement based on what they and their loved ones endured all these years.

Although class action lawsuits are a great tool, they can be time-consuming and slow the litigation process. Victims want to move forward from all this, which is why we believe a class action lawsuit is not a good option. 

There may be pre-trial consolidation with so many cases filed by Camp Lejeune victims, which could be best for everyone.

How Can Ehline Law Help

Ehline Law and our personal injury attorneys have extensive experience representing veterans in disability claims against the VA. We’re excited to help veterans exposed to Camp Lejeune’s toxic water pursue legal action and obtain compensation.

Our personal injury lawyers have been preparing for months before the signing of the PACT Act. We are ready to take your Camp Lejeune water contamination case forward and deliver the justice you deserve. 

Our experienced legal team will handle the entire legal process, prove causation, calculate the damages, and negotiate a fair Camp Lejeune settlement on your behalf.

Schedule a Free Consultation with Ehline Law

If you are suffering illnesses due to exposure to toxic substances from your time spent at Camp Lejeune as a veteran, a family member of a veteran, or a worker, contact us at (833) LETS-SUE for a free consultation on your Camp Lejeune water lawsuit.

Michael Ehline is an inactive U.S. Marine and world-famous legal historian. Michael helped draft the Cruise Ship Safety Act and has won some of U.S. history’s largest motorcycle accident settlements. Together with his legal team, Michael and the Ehline Law Firm collect damages on behalf of clients.
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