For over 3 decades, beginning in the early 1950s and ending in 1987, employees and residents at the Camp Lejeune Marine Corps base were drinking and bathing in water that was heavily polluted with chemical toxins. The discovery of this contamination sparked intense public outrage and led to numerous scientific studies to assess what diseases and health conditions may have been caused by exposure to this water.
All of the research and studies have universally agreed that the diseases most strongly linked to the water contamination at Camp Lejeune are kidney cancer and chronic kidney disease. Now congress is on the verge of passing a new law that will finally allow Camp Lejeune victims with kidney cancer or disease to file lawsuits and get settlement compensation.
Let's look at the unfortunate connection between kidney cancer and the water at Camp Lejeune.Short History of Camp Lejeune Water Contamination
Since World War II, the Camp Lejeune Marine Corps base near Jacksonville, North Carolina, has been a home, barracks, and/or workplace for millions of Marines, civilian employees, and their families. For over 30 years, however, the water supplied to employees and residents at Camp Lejeune was poisoned with dangerously high levels of toxic chemical solvents.
The Camp Lejeune water contained perchloroethylene (PCE) and trichloroethylene (TCE) at levels several thousand times above the maximum safe limits set by the EPA and other agencies. Subsequent testing and studies have determined that these toxic chemicals were contaminating the water from 1953 to 1987. It is estimated that over 1 million people were exposed to the poisoned water at Camp Lejeune during this time.Camp Lejeune Water Contamination and Kidney Cancer and Disease
When the contamination of the water at Camp Lejeune became public knowledge, there was a great deal of public outrage directed at the Marine Corps and the Department of Defense. The federal government responded by having several different public health agencies perform research and studies to assess the health impact of the water contamination. There is no real dispute that tainted water at Camp Lejeune caused kidney cancer and kidney disease.
With kidney injuries, our Camp Lejeune lawyers are seeing two types of cases. First, we are seeing kidney cancer cases. We are also seeing renal toxicity cases. Doctors rarely use the term "renal toxicity" with patients. So instead of a renal toxicity diagnosis, you might hear end-stage renal disease, chronic kidney disorder, or chronic kidney disease. This is often secondary to diabetes which later progresses to these more difficult illnesses. It is well understood that contaminated water can cause diabetes.
Camp Lejeune Caused Kidney Cancer and Kidney Disease
One of the first of these public health studies on the health effects of the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune was the 2009 National Research Council report (the “NRC Report”). In the early 2000s, the Department of the Navy directed the National Research Council to conduct studies to evaluate what adverse health outcomes are associated with past contamination of the water supply at Camp Lejeune.
The result was the NRC Report released in 2009. The NRC Report was one of the first authoritative assessments identifying adverse health conditions and diseases that may have been caused by the Lejeune water. The NRC Report found very strong evidence that exposure to the Camp Lejeune water was associated with higher rates of kidney cancer and chronic kidney disease.
One of the next major studies into the health impact of the Camp Lejeune water was a series of mortality studies done by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). These ATSDR studies were published in 2014. The ATSDR mortality studies found that former employees and residents of Camp Lejeune displayed significantly higher rates of kidney cancer and kidney disease compared to a control group. The study concluded that there was a clear link between the Lejeune water and kidney cancer and disease.
In 2015, a special committee of medical experts from across the country (the “VA Committee) was formed to assist the Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) in providing health benefits to Camp Lejeune veterans.
The VA Committee was tasked with reviewing all of the previous public health studies, along with any new studies, and evaluating the health impact of exposure to the chemical solvents in the Camp Lejeune Water supply. Based on this review, the VA Committee determined what specific diseases and health conditions could be linked to the Camp Lejeune water supply based on reliable evidence.
Just like all of the previous studies and reviews, the VA Committee concluded that there was very strong and compelling evidence linking kidney cancer to Camp Lejeune’s water. The VA Committee found that of all the various diseases potentially associated with Camp Lejeune, kidney cancer was supported by the strongest evidence. So far, our Camp Lejeune attorneys have received more kidney cancer and kidney disease calls from victims than any other type of Camp Lejeune injury or death.New Law Will Allow Camp Lejeune Kidney Cancer Claims
For a long time, the victims of the Camp Lejeune water contamination have been prevented from bringing civil lawsuits and getting compensation for the injuries and deaths. A North Carolina law called a statute of repose was effectively used to block all of these lawsuits. Now, however, Congress is very close to passing a new law that will give Camp Lejeune victims the right to bring claims for their injuries, including kidney cancer.
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act (CLJA), part of a larger bill called the Honoring Our Pact Act, was passed by the House in March. An amended version of the law was passed by the Senate in June 2022 and is currently under review by the House. The bill is eventually going to pass, probably in July 2022.
Once the CLJA becomes law, Lejeune victims will be able to file tort claims for injuries related to the water contamination. The law specifically circumvents the North Carolina statute of repose which had previously blocked these claims. Plaintiffs will still need to prove their claims. But the CLJA creates a significantly lowered standard of proof which allows causation to be established if the plaintiff can cite a study linking their injuries to the Lejeune water contaminants. So it is not unreasonable to expect after some preliminary litigation, the government will offer reasonable kidney disease and kidney cancer settlement amounts for Camp Lejeune survivors and families bringing wrongful death lawsuits.
Plaintiffs with kidney cancer or disease will be able cite to several studies. All of the various studies and public health reviews have universally agreed that kidney cancer and kidney disease are closely linked to the water at Camp Lejeune. Plaintiffs with kidney cancer or disease claims will probably just need to prove that they lived or worked at Lejeune for at least 30 days to establish their claims. Our lawyers think that the government is poised to offer reasonable settlement compensation payouts in kidney cancer and disease lawsuits.Predicted Kidney Disease and Kidney Cancer Settlement Amounts
At this stage, our lawyers don’t know for sure what the average settlement Camp Lejeune kidney cancer water contamination lawsuits involving kidney cancer might be. So take any kidney injury or kidney cancer settlement amount projections with many grains of salt. It it still so early in the Camp Lejeune lawsuit to know anything for sure.
That said, we can, however, offer informed estimates of the potential settlement amounts Camp Lejeune lawsuits based on prior verdicts and reported settlements in other tort cases involving kidney cancer or kidney disease.
In our view, Camp Lejeune cases involving kidney cancer will have an average settlement payout between $125,000 and $250,000. We are basing this on settlement payouts in other cases involving kidney cancer. Claims involving chronic kidney disease may have a settlement payout that is less than this average.Contact Us About a Camp Lejeune Kidney Cancer Lawsuit
If you lived or worked at Camp Lejeune between 1953 and 1987 and were subsequently diagnosed with kidney cancer or kidney disease, contact our office today to see if you may be eligible to file a claim. Call our Camp Lejeune lawyer today at 800-553-8082 or get a free consultation online.