Between 1957 and 1987, the water available for drinking at the United States Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina may have been contaminated. During this time, approximately a million workers and military service members and their loved ones were exposed to hazardous chemicals that can cause cancer and other serious health issues.
If you or a loved one has developed serious health issues, including cancer, due to consuming water at Camp Lejeune, you might be eligible to pursue compensation from those responsible for your losses.
How Does Camp Lejeune Water Cause Cancer?
In 1982, the United States Marine Corps found hazardous chemicals known to be volatile organic compounds in the water used for drinking at Camp Lejeune.
The contamination started in 1953 and persisted for a long time, exposing workers and their loved ones until 1987, based on reports provided by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. This contamination continued even after the most contaminated wells were discontinued from use in 1985.
Some hazardous chemicals found in the water at Camp Lejeune include the following:
- Benzene is used to produce other chemicals found in resins, nylon, plastic, and synthetic fibers
- Tetrachloroethylene, is sometimes referred to as perchloroethylene (PCE), which is used for both dry cleaning and degreasing
- Trichloroethylene (TCE), which is a solvent utilized to clean metallic surfaces
- Over time, materials in the ground can degrade and become vinyl chloride (VC)
Benzene as well as TCE and VC are viewed as cancer-causing chemicals. PCE is likely carcinogenic. Being exposed to these chemicals can increase the possibility of birth defects as well as serious health difficulties in adults.
A person can be exposed to water at Camp Lejeune in one of four ways:
- Drinking water
- Using contaminated cleaning water
- Cooking with tainted water
Water Treatment Plants Supplied Contaminated Water
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry reports that certain compounds were found in two of the eight water treatment plants supplied by the Marine Corps Base. Toxic chemicals were found at two water treatment plants that gave Camp LeJeune water — Tarawa Terrace Treatment Plant and Hadnot Point Treatment Plant.
2022 Update Involving Camp Lejeune Water
In the summer of 2022, the United States government passed the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, which was included in the Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act. The Act addresses issues that impact veterans who were exposed to toxic materials while they were in service. The Act represents a substantial step forward for service members as well as workers and families. The Act would permit people to file a claim in the United States District Court and receive damages for the harm caused by exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune between 1953 and 1987. The bill addresses that any person who is exposed to toxic water at the camp for 30-days can pursue legal action. This 30 day window can be met in a non-continuous way.
The bill also prevents the United States Government from claiming specific immunity from litigation in response to such a lawsuit. The measure also bypasses a North Carolina law that has made actions like this one previously impossible.
Due to this new regulation, those individuals who were exposed can now pursue compensation by pursuing a lawsuit against Camp Lejeune after years of being denied the results that they deserve.
How the Act Came About
Recent research showed that more than one million people at Camp Lejeune were exposed to contaminated water, which resulted in devastating health consequences. Victims were already developing serious illnesses, and more than 850 cases were joined in multidistrict litigation. However, those lawsuits were dismissed as the result of North Carolina’s statute of repose, which claimed that legal action could not be brought since the alleged water contamination happened more than three years before filing the lawsuit.
The resulting public outrage resulted in the proposal of the Camp Lejeune Justice Act. The Act of 2022 was passed in the House of Representatives and then sent to the Senate for majority approval.
Who Can Pursue a Toxic Water Lawsuit Against Camp Lejeune?
A person might be able to pursue a Camp Lejeune lawsuit if that individual or that person’s loved ones were exposed to contaminated drinking water for at least 30 days between the 1st of August, 1952 and the 31st of December, 1987. To file a lawsuit, a person must have suffered cancer or another related health issue.
How to File a Claim Against Camp Lejeune
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act was passed in Congress and will soon receive support from the President of the United States. The Senate was scheduled to vote on August 1 to push the Act forward. This vote, however, has since been delayed. Our team expects that the Senate will vote on the matter any-day, with potential revisions on the $400 million in additional spending that triggered a substantial GOP revision on the measure. The Act will permit victims who satisfy existing criteria to pursue legal action. The Act will start a mass tort lawsuit in a federal district court in North Carolina.
The Expected Settlement Amounts in Camp Lejeune Claims
It is difficult to estimate what the average settlement amount for a Camp Lejeune water contamination claim would be. If the Act passes, more comprehensive details will be released on payout amounts. The settlement amount for each case varies based on the injuries incurred, conditions diagnosed, time spent at the base, and additional details. Lawsuit settlements also contain details about damages incurred, which include things like medical bills, lost income, and emotional damages. Based on the injuries and evidence, individual settlement amounts could be substantial.
Contact an Experienced Toxic Water Lawsuit Attorney
If you would like to learn more about your legal options, you should contact the Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe LLP today. Our attorneys will listen to the details of your case and let you know about your available options. If you or your family members are suffering due to the water you were exposed to at Camp Lejeune, you are not alone. We can help.
For a free legal consultation, call 516-358-6900