From 1953 to 1987, anyone who lived or worked at the Camp Lejeune Marine Corps base was exposed to toxic chemicals in the water supply. The contaminated water at Lejeune caused thousands to develop cancer and other serious health conditions. For years, these victims were blocked from seeking compensation for their injuries. In August 2022, however, Congress passed a new law that gives Camp Lejeune victims the right to bring claims against the government for their injuries.
Thousands of Camp Lejeune claims are expected to be filed and the majority of them will ultimately be resolved by settlement. There is a lot of speculation about what the settlement value of individual Camp Lejeune cases will be. In this post, our Camp Lejeune lawyers will discuss the various factors that will impact the amount of Camp Lejeune settlement payouts. We will also provide our best estimate, revised in 2023, as to what the settlement value of Camp Lejeune claims will be based on the type of cancer or health condition alleged by the plaintiff.
About the Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawsuits
Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune is a massive military base and training compound on the coast of North Carolina. Lejeune is like a small town with housing, a hospital, and schools to accommodate an on-base resident population that averaged around 50,000. Camp Lejeune had its own water supply system to provide potable water to the base.
In the 1980s, new regulations prompted the Marine Corps to test the water quality at Camp Lejeune for the first time. This led to the shocking discovery that the drinking water being supplied to the base was highly contaminated. It contained carcinogenic chemicals at levels several thousand times above maximum safe limits. Testing and historical modeling by public health agencies determined that the water at Lejeune was poisoned with these chemicals for over 3 decades beginning in 1953 and ending in 1987.
An estimated 1 million people lived or worked at Camp Lejeune during the time that the water was contaminated. Numerous studies have shown that the toxic water at Lejeune caused these individuals to suffer serious adverse health consequences. Exposure to the water supply at Camp Lejeune has been scientifically linked to several different types of cancer and other serious health conditions.
New Law Allows Camp Lejeune Victims to Bring Claims and Get Compensation
For a long time, victims of Camp Lejeune water contamination were legally blocked from bringing civil lawsuits and getting any financial compensation for their injuries. In August 2022, however, Congress sought to address this by passing a new federal law called the Camp Lejeune Justice Act (“CLJA”).
The CLJA gives the victims of Camp Lejeune water contamination the ability to bring civil claims against the federal government and compensated for harm caused by the toxic water. The CLJA states that anyone who lived or worked at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days between 1953 and 1987 is eligible to file a claim and get compensation for any injuries or harm caused by exposure to the toxic water.
Victims who bring claims under the CLJA will face an easier standard of proof than plaintiffs in a normal civil case. This means it will be much easier for CLJA plaintiffs to prove that their cancer or other health condition was related to the water at Camp Lejeune.
Camp Lejeune Settlement Amounts
For the reasons discussed below, our lawyers estimate that successful Camp Lejeune cases filed under the CLJA will have a settlement range of $200,000 to $2,000,000. Where an individual case falls on this settlement range will depend on several different factors including. In our opinion, the two factors that will have the most significant impact on the settlement value of these cases are (1) injury type and (2) length of exposure.
- Injury Type
The factor that should make the most difference on the potential settlement value of a Camp Lejeune water contamination case is what injuries are being alleged by the plaintiff (i.e., what type of cancer or other disease is the plaintiff claiming). There are two reasons why the injury alleged by the plaintiff will impact the case value.
First, a number of health studies by public agencies such as the ATSDR and the VA have identified a list of specific diseases that are classified as “presumptively” related to or caused by the Camp Lejeune water. These diseases (mostly different cancer types) have been linked to the Camp Lejeune water based on compelling scientific evidence. Camp Lejeune cases involving one of these “presumptive” conditions will have a higher settlement value because causation is essentially assumed.
The severity of the specific injury type or disease alleged by the plaintiff will also have a major influence on the potential value of an individual case. Cases involving more severe or damaging diseases will invariably have a higher settlement value than cases involving minor conditions. For example, a CLJA case in which the plaintiff is alleging liver disease will have a lower settlement value than a case involving liver cancer.
- Length of Exposure
The length and extent of an individual plaintiff’s exposure to the toxic water at Camp Lejeune will also have a major impact on settlement value. The longer a plaintiff was exposed to the Camp Lejeune water, the stronger and more valuable their claim will be.
For example, a plaintiff who developed bladder cancer after living or working at Camp Lejeune for 10 years will have a much stronger case (and a more valuable case) than someone who developed bladder cancer by only spending 3 months at Lejeune.
Settlement Amounts of Camp Lejeune Cases By Injury Type
Our lawyers have come up with estimated settlement values for Camp Lejeune cases based on the specific disease or injury type that the plaintiff is alleging. These estimates are based primarily on whether the disease or health condition is one of the conditions presumptively connected to Camp Lejeune, and the general nature and severity of the specific cancer or disease.
|INJURY TYPE||ESTIMATED SETTLEMENT VALUE|
|Bladder Cancer||$200,000 – $425,000|
|Brain Cancer||$600,000 – $1,200,000|
|Cervical Cancer||$150,000 – $340,000|
|Colon Cancer||$100,000 – $280,000|
|Esophageal Cancer||$210,000 – $600,000|
|Kidney Cancer||$175,000 – $425,000|
|Leukemia||$220,000 – $575,000|
|Liver Cancer||$260,000 – $550,000|
|Lung Cancer||$200,000 – $450,000|
|Lymphoma||$250,000 – $475,000|
|Ovarian Cancer||$150,000 – $340,000|
|Parkinson’s Disease||$390,000 – $1,100,000|
|Myelodysplastic Syndromes||$110,000 – $320,000|
|Scleroderma||$120,000 – $275,000|
|Anemia||$110,000 – $250,000|
|Wrongful Death||$400,000 – $1,500,000|
|Infertility||$100,000 – $250,000|
|Birth Defects||$250,000 – $2,000,000|
Camp Lejeune Compensation Settlement Fund Estimate
When the CLJA was going through the legislative process, the Congress Budget Office came up with an estimate for how much the law would potentially cost. The CBO Cost Estimate predicted that compensation payments for Camp Lejeune claims would cost $6.1 billion through 2031. The CBO Estimate attached a footnote to this item, however, which suggested that Camp Lejeune claims would be paid out of the United States Judgement Fund, a permanent fund used to pay monetary awards against the government. According to the CBO, these payments will cost another $15 billion after 2031:
CBO expects that [Camp Lejeune] awards and settlements would be paid from the Judgment Fund, a permanent, indefinite appropriation that is available to pay monetary awards against the United States that are judicially or administratively ordered. Payments from that fund are classified as direct spending. CBO also estimates that, in addition to the amounts shown in this table, payments under the section would increase direct spending by about $15 billion after 2031
When you add these two sections from the CBO estimate together, it suggests that the government is expecting to pay out nearly $22 billion in compensation to Camp Lejeune victims.
Contact Us About a Camp Lejeune Case
Contact us at 800-553-8082 to see if you qualify to bring a Camp Lejeune case under the CLJA.