For forty years, contaminated drinking water at North Carolina’s U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune sickened people and potentially exposed them to dangerous chemicals. These chemicals put people at risk of developing cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. The Camp Lejeune Justice Act allows veterans and their family members to file a claim against the U.S. Marines Corps and the federal government for damages caused by exposure to the contaminated water.
If you were harmed by contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, contact Frederick Law Firm today.
What is the Camp Lejeune Justice Act?
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act was signed into law in June 2022. The law allows people harmed by Lejeune’s contaminated water, including people who were exposed in-utero, to file claims in federal court. Previously, the statute of limitations and statute of repose provided North Carolina state law prevented many Camp Lejeune victims from being able to pursue civil lawsuits for their injuries. The Camp Lejeune Justice Act allows plaintiffs to file their claims in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina and provides a specific statute of limitations for these claims.
Who Can File a Camp Lejeune Lawsuit?
High levels of benzene, industrial solvents, and other harmful chemicals contaminated two of the eight wells at Camp Lejeune between 1953 and 1987. Any person who lived, worked, or was born at Camp Lejeune during this time may have been exposed to toxin-contaminated drinking water. These toxins put them at risk for developing cancer and other serious medical conditions, including congenital disabilities, myelodysplastic syndromes, multiple myeloma, renal toxicity, hepatic steatosis, female infertility, miscarriage, scleroderma, and neurobehavioral issues.
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act enables veterans and family members injured by Camp Lejeune’s water contamination to seek compensation by filing a civil lawsuit. You may qualify to file a Camp Lejeune water contamination claim if you:
- Are a veteran or family member who lived or worked at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987; and
- Were diagnosed with leukemia, esophageal cancer, lung cancer, breast cancer, bladder cancer, kidney cancer, multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, or another severe illness after being exposed to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune.
A family member of a person who developed cancer after at least 30 days of exposure to contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune may also be eligible to file a claim.
Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Linked to Cancer
Camp Lejeune covers nearly 250 square miles in Onslow County, North Carolina. The military base first opened in 1942 as a training facility and military operations center for the Marine Corps and other branches of the armed forces. For nearly eight decades, the base was a permanent or temporary residence for hundreds of thousands of retired and active-duty military members and their families.
Between 1953 and 1987, two of the eight wells at Camp Lejeune were contaminated with over 70 harmful chemicals and carcinogens, including benzene, a component in fuel, and the industrial chemicals PCE (perchloroethylene) and TCE (trichloroethylene). Some of these chemicals were detected at levels that were 340 to 2,400 times above the safe exposure levels for humans. These toxic chemicals were traced to three primary sources:
- On-base divisions using harsh chemicals to clean military gear,
- A nearby, off-base dry-cleaning facility, and
- A significant fuel leakage estimated at 800,000 gallons originating from underground fuel tanks at Camp Lejeune.
These two contaminated wells supplied drinking water to nearly a million people. Marines and their families living and working in areas serviced by the Hadnot Point and Tarawa Terrace central water distribution systems encountered these toxic chemicals in their drinking and bathing water. Civilian workers at Camp Lejeune’s daycares, schools, hospitals, and other places of employment also suffered carcinogenic effects, including cancer, reproductive problems, and congenital disabilities. Anyone who lived or worked in these areas for at least 30 days may have been affected by toxins in the water.
Other Camp Lejeune Well Water Contamination Settlements
The Veterans Administration has already agreed to pay out over $2 billion in disability benefits to veterans and their families harmed by water contamination at the base. Some of these settlements include:
- $100,000 given to a Marine veteran diagnosed with kidney cancer after exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune;
- A $350 million fund to provide healthcare benefits to veterans and their families affected by the contaminated water;
- $75 million in benefits to families of service members who died due to the contaminated water; and
- A $1.1 million award for disability benefits to a veteran who worked at Camp Lejeune in the 1980s and was diagnosed with bladder cancer.
While these compensation awards are a significant victory for veterans and their families, the passage of the Camp Lejeune Justice Act will ensure that everyone affected by the contaminated water has a chance to pursue compensation for their unique losses.
How Much Time Do I Have to File a Camp Lejeune Lawsuit?
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act gives plaintiffs two years to file a claim. If the harm occurred after the law was enacted, plaintiffs have two years from the date the harm occurred or was discovered to file a claim, whichever is later. If the harm was discovered before the law was effective, then a plaintiff has two years from the date the law was enacted to file a claim. Contacting an attorney as soon as possible can help you meet the filing deadlines.
Frederick Law Firm Can Help
While no amount of money will undo the harm caused by Camp Lejeune’s contaminated water, a lawsuit can provide you and your family with the financial help you need to pay for your medical bills and other losses. Are you unsure if you qualify? At Frederick Law Firm, our experienced attorneys can answer all your Camp Lejeune lawsuit questions. Our Camp Lejeune lawyers care about our clients and will fight tooth and nail to help victims receive compensation, including but not limited to the following:
- Healthcare benefits,
- Financial compensation for medical bills, and
- Disability compensation.
If you were harmed by contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, we can help you pursue the compensation and justice you deserve. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.