Our lawyers handle claims for victims seeking to file a Camp Lejeune lawsuit in all 50 states.
This page gives the most recent updates on the new Camp Lejeune litigation. Our lawyers also speculate about potential individual per-person settlement payouts for a Camp Lejeune lawsuit. These cases are ultimately about compensation for victims. So our attorneys predict the range of settlement payouts you can expect for your contaminated water claim.
A Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuit is the vehicle to get settlement compensation in these cases. Our Camp Lejeune lawyers can assist you with your claim for your injuries or sickness or the wrongful death of a loved one.
Call our lawyers today at 800-553-8082 or get a free online consultation if you have a potential Camp Lejeune lawsuit.
Camp Lejeune Lawsuit Updates
Let’s start by giving you the latest news and updates on the Camp Lejeune litigation. Our lawyers are committed to bringing victims the latest information in this litigation.
June 1, 2023 – Lejeune Lawyers Accused of Unlawful Client Solicitation
Accused of illegal client solicitation in toxic water contamination lawsuits at Camp Lejeune, two law firms have requested a West Virginia federal judge to dismiss a proposed class action. The firms, based in Maryland and Florida, deny initiating or controlling calls to potential clients on a federal do-not-call list. They argue for dismissal due to a lack of jurisdiction, among other reasons. The plaintiff claimed the firms, along with a Minnesota-based services group and five unnamed defendants, targeted individuals on the do-not-call list to drum up business for a mass tort against the federal government.
We cannot speak to the merits of this particular class action lawsuit. But there is no question that lawyers and marketing companies went way overboard in marketing for Camp Lejeune in a way that was not a good look for Camp Lejeune lawyers.
May 30, 2023 – 60,000 Claims
The estimated number of Camp Lejeune claims is up to an estimated 60,000.
May 25, 2023 – Navy Blames Budget and Staffing Limitations for Slow Response
The Navy claims that it is facing financial and staffing limitations in reviewing compensation claims from veterans affected by toxic water at Camp Lejeune. Navy attorney Jennifer Tennile Karnes acknowledged this in an email to Camp Lejeune lawyers, mentioning that the tort claims unit is working extensive overtime to process claims and aims to increase staff by the end of summer. However, the Navy has not yet delivered on its promise to create an online portal to expedite the claims process, and Congress has not allocated the necessary additional funds for managing the compensation program. Here is the apt quote from the Navy: “So where does that leave us? Well, back to the same ole place we have been this entire time. Building the plane in mid-air.”
May 17, 2023 – Pressure for Camp Lejeune Settlement Mounts
A bipartisan coalition of lawmakers is increasing pressure on the Navy for failing to resolve cases of toxic water poisoning at the Camp Lejeune Marine Base, nine months after President Biden signed a bill to establish a process for addressing veterans’ health claims.
None of the approximately 45,000 claims had been settled by the Navy. Furthermore, a digital platform meant to process these claims won’t be operational until summer. How do you settle lawsuits without knowing what the claims even are?
Senators Ted Budd (R-N.C.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), and Representative Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.) are urging for an expedited resolution of these cases. In a letter sent to Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro and Attorney General Merrick Garland, they argue that any delay in adjudicating these claims amounts to an injustice. The lawmakers asked six key questions in their letter:
- “How many Camp Lejeune claims has the Navy Judge Advocate General received? Please provide a detailed status of each including current disposition.”
- “How many Camp Lejeune lawsuits have been filed in federal court since 2022? Please provide a detailed status of each including current procedural posture.”
- “How many individuals with pending Camp Lejeune claims have died while waiting for a resolution to their case?”
- “What are the Department of the Navy and the Department of Justice’s plans to process these claims in a timely manner?”
- “What are DOJ’s guidelines for resolving these cases?”
- “Will cases brought in federal court be litigated by lawyers from DOJ headquarters or by lawyers in the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina?”
May 11, 2023 Update – May 2023 Lawsuit Pace
Since the start of May, 37 new Camp Lejeune civil cases under the CLJA have been filed in the Eastern District of North Carolina.
That works out to a daily average of just over three new cases per day, which is almost exactly the same daily case average we saw in April. Assuming this pace continues, we should get just over 100 new Camp Lejeune cases by the end of the month.
However, this pace is significantly down from the volume we saw in March when 642 new civil cases were filed under the CLJA. But there are 45,000 administrative claims, many of which will be filed soon. So there will be an onslaught at some point.
May 9, 2023 Update – Navy Slow to Process Camp Lejeune Claims
Despite the government’s promise to compensate veterans affected by toxic waters at Camp Lejeune, no claim has been settled almost nine months later. The Navy is waiting to launch an online portal to manage over 45,000 claims and counting. But now the Navy says – to the frustration of veterans – that a portal to process claims might not be ready until the summer. Bloomberg has an article on the problems the Navy has putting together a portal to process thousands of Camp Lejeune claims that have been filed administratively. “The Navy needs to step up its game,” North Carolina Federal Court Judge James C. Dever III told lawyers at a hearing last month.
May 5, 2023 Update – 45,000 claims
There have been 45,000 administrative claims filed in the Camp Lejeune litigation.
May 1, 2023 Update – Camp Lejeune Class Action
We don’t have an MDL Camp Lejeune class action lawsuit. But we now have something close. The court has consolidated all of the cases for pretrial discovery.
April 20, 2023 Update – Court Grants DOJ Extension Request
The Department of Justice filed a motion to extend the time to file answers to each individual plaintiff’s complaint. It is not hard to answer a complaint. But there are a lot of them, and the DOJ is overwhelmed. A judge has granted an extension on filing individual answers until May 31, 2023.
The Eastern District of North Carolina still needs to establish coordination protocols in the Camp Lejeune lawsuits. But it is likely coming. Camp Lejeune lawyers on both sides filed a joint motion to consolidate the litigation, asking that the cases all be assigned to one judge for pretrial proceedings. The attorneys also want the judges to establish protocols to help advance the litigation with as little unnecessary duplication of efforts as possible. During a recent status conference, U.S. District Judge James C. Dever III discussed the possibility of establishing a master docket and assigning plaintiffs’ attorneys to certain leadership positions just like you see in an ordinary MDL class action lawsuit. What the court will do and how far it will go with consolidation remains to be seen.
April 19, 2023 Update – Acccelation of Pace of Camp Lejeune Suit in North Carolina
854 new Camp Lejeune civil lawsuits have been filed under the CLJA so far, with over 600 cases filed in just the last 30 days. The Eastern District of North Carolina is averaging over 20 new Camp Lejeune filings daily. Meanwhile, the DOJ has filed a motion asking for an extension of its deadline to file answers to the new CLJA cases pending a decision on the recent motion to consolidate.
April 10, 2023 Update: Will There Be a Camp Lejeune Class Action Lawsuit?
With the swift rise in Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuits being filed in the Eastern District of North Carolina, lawyers for both the U.S. government and plaintiffs are advocating for consolidating cases under a single judge or the Court overseeing pretrial proceedings in a unified fashion. Although not an actual class action lawsuit, this approach would encompass many characteristics of one. We have updated our Lejeune settlement page with this update in terms of the timing of a possible settlement.
April 4, 2023 Update – Number of Filed Lawsuits Jump
The volume of new Camp Lejeune civil lawsuit filings in the Eastern District of North Carolina exploded last week with 360 Camp Lejeune victims filing CLJA lawsuits over the week. Two hundred thirty-two of these CLJA civil cases were filed on a single day, Friday, March 31, 2023. If this continues, we will see about 1,500 new Camp Lejeune civil cases filed each month, which would give us over 12,000 by the end of the year.
March 28, 2023 Update – Lawsuit Count
Camp Lejeune victims who filed administrative claims with JAG after the CLJA was passed last August became eligible to file civil lawsuits six months afterward. It has now been almost eight months since the CLJA was passed.
Last week we saw a spike in the volume of new Camp Lejeune civil lawsuits getting filed. In just five days last week, 179 new Camp Lejeune civil lawsuits were filed in the Eastern District of North Carolina. That is the most significant weekly volume of new filings since the six-month deadline on the JAG claims expired. It also nearly doubles the total number of CLJA civil cases pending.
March 27, 2023 Update – JAG Mentions Settlement
The Navy JAG has received harsh criticism recently for its apparent lack of action on the thousands of Camp Lejeune claims filed under the new law passed last year. Despite receiving over 15,000 claims already, JAG still needs to implement a system for reviewing and/or resolving the claims.
In response to a recent media inquiry, a spokesperson for JAG suggested that they are reviewing claims and that “if the Navy determines the evidence substantiates the claim, the Navy, in coordination with the Department of Justice, may offer a settlement.” This is certainly encouraging to hear, but no settlement offers have been made to any Camp Lejeune victims and no timetable was offered.
March 20, 2023 Update – 260 Lawsuits and Climbing
It has now been over one month since the first Camp Lejeune victims who filed claims under the CLJA became eligible to file civil lawsuits. Since then, 260 CLJA claimants have converted their claims into civil lawsuits in the Eastern District of North Carolina. The volume of new Camp Lejeune lawsuits filed under the CLJA has nearly doubled each week since the start of March.
March 6, 2023 Update – Case Count Update
Camp Lejeune victims have filed twenty-two more civil lawsuits in the Eastern District of North Carolina since the start of March. That brings the total number of pending CLJA civil suits up to 179.
March 1, 2023 Update – New Case Highlights Lejeune Tragedy
A recently filed CLJA civil lawsuit, Freshwater v. United States (7:23-cv-00167), highlights the tragic circumstances of many Camp Lejeune victims. Plaintiff lived at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days (the Complaint does not specify exactly how long) during the water contamination period. Mary’s exposure to the toxic water at Lejeune had a devastating impact on her lifelong health. She had two children who died from birth defects in 1977 and 1979 and a miscarriage. Mary was subsequently diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, and she passed away in 2013, leaving her daughter to file wrongful death claims under the CLJA. Birth defects and leukemia are conditions presumptively linked to the Lejeune water. Just unfair.
February 27, 2023 Update – 158 and Counting
The earliest CLJA claimants became eligible to file civil lawsuits on February 10, 2023, six months after their JAG claims were filed under the new law. Since then, 158 Camp Lejeune lawsuits have been filed in the Eastern District of North Carolina under the CLJA. This represents only a tiny fraction of the number of claims filed in the first two weeks after the CLJA was passed, so the volume of civil case filings will probably increase dramatically over the next few months.
February 22, 2023 Update – Government Encourages Victims to Make Two Claims
The Department of Veteran’s Affairs is urging Camp Lejeune victims to file claims for VA disability benefits, even if they are pursuing a claim under the CLJA.
The VA’s Office of the General Counsel recently issued a statement assuring veterans “that VA is not going to reduce or deny your benefits” if they pursue a claim under the CLJA. The statements from the VA are aimed at clarifying that VA disability benefits are still available to those who bring Camp Lejeune lawsuits under the CLJA.
So will there be an offset for those benefits? No one knows yet. A Camp Lejeune settlement will likely come with a global settlement deal that resolves all claims with the government. It makes sense just to waive any lien and pay slightly smaller settlement amounts (which also has the impact of the victim paying less in attorneys’ fees because fees come out of the gross amount of the settlement).
February 16, 2023 Update – Lawsuit Count
Nine more Camp Lejeune civil lawsuits were filed yesterday in the Eastern District of North Carolina. 112 cases have now been filed under the CLJA since the 6-month administrative claim deadline expired four days ago. Meanwhile, a spokesperson for JAG recently confirmed that the number of CLJA administrative claims received by JAG is now at 20,000. We can safely assume that at least half of these will get filed as civil lawsuits.
February 13, 2023 Update – Litigation Kickoff
The six-month deadline for the JAG administrative claims under the CLJA expired last week and, as expected, a large wave of Camp Lejeune victims have filed civil lawsuits under the CLJA. 79 CLJA cases have been filed in the Eastern District of North Carolina since Friday last week. The volume of new case filings will likely be even higher this week as more CLJA claimants become eligible to file six months after submitting their admin claims to JAG.
February 7, 2023 Update – Avalanche of Camp Lejeune Suits About to Hit North Carolina
Immediately after the CLJA was signed into law last year on August 10, 2023, a wave of Camp Lejeune victims immediately filed administrative claims under the new law with the Navy JAG. Several thousand CLJA claims were filed with JAG in the first weeks after passing the bill. The CLJA gave JAG a strict 6-month deadline to take action on these administrative claims before the claimants would be eligible to file a civil lawsuit in North Carolina federal court.
That 6-month deadline expires on Friday for the earliest CLJA admin claims. None of the initial claims have been settled (JAG never even collected supporting documents for the claims). So all of these claimants can now bring a civil case in the Eastern District of North Carolina.
February 1, 2023 Update – How Many Victims Will File a Camp Lejeune Lawsuit?
JAG has received over 15,000 claims from Camp Lejeune victims since the CLJA was passed in August. Many are now wondering how many total claims will get filed under the CLJA before the deadline in August 2024. A recent article from Bloomberg News suggests there could be as many as 500,000 CLJA claims.
There is no evidence presented to support this number, not even a quote. We think that number is grossly inflated. According to the ATSDR studies, the total number of people exposed to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune from 1953 to 1987 is only around 1 million. The ATSDR study estimated that the number of people in this population that developed cancer and severe health conditions is no more than 200,000. We think a more reasonable estimate of the total number of CLJA claims is around 100,000 to 200,000.
January 30, 2023 Update – Astronomical Advertising
According to a recent report from Bloomberg News, lawyers and lead generation companies have already spent $145 million on Camp Lejeune advertising. Roughly $112 million of that went to television advertising. This is a massive amount. The TV advertising expenditure on Lejeune was more than double the amount spent on any other mass tort during the same period.
But the gold rush is fading. Fast. Most victims have already hired a lawyer.
Our firm has not spent a single penny on Camp Lejeune advertising.
January 24, 2023 Update – Lack of Progress
Are you frustrated by the lack of progress in the Camp Lejeune litigation? You are not the only one.
JAG and the DOJ are facing some criticism recently for what many feel is a deliberate delay in handling the thousands of compensation claims from Camp Lejeune victims under the CLJA. It has been almost six months since the first group of claims was filed after the CLJA became law. Nothing has happened, leaving many veterans very frustrated. Last week, prominent politicians started weighing in on the situation.
Congressmen Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.), one of the original sponsors of the CLJA, issued a statement last week criticizing the DOJ and JAG: “Now that the [CLJA] has been signed into law, we should not prolong the suffering of those who served our country.” Famed activist Erin Brockovich also called on the DOJ to “follow through with the spirit and the intention” of the CLJA.
We do not think the government’s delay is intentional. But it needs to put more energy into getting up to speed to process these claims.
January 11, 2023 Update – Legacy Cases Update
Four more Camp Lejeune legacy cases were recently dismissed for failing to resubmit an administrative claim to JAG before filing a civil suit. Last month, a different judge dismissed over a dozen legacy cases for the same reason. Another judge in the Eastern District of North Carolina (Hon. Louise Flanagan) has followed suit and dismissed the legacy cases assigned to her. Only a tiny handful of the legacy cases remain pending with a 3rd judge, and they will likely be rejected on the same basis very soon.
What does this mean in practical terms? Other than the Eastern District judges showing a welcomed proclivity to rule consistently, very little to anyone other than these litigants. We explain more in our December 29, 2022, update below.
January 9, 2023 Update – Number of Camp Lejeune Claims
According to a statement from a Navy JAG spokesperson, 14,000 claims have been filed by Camp Lejeune victims since the CLJA was passed in August. This rate of CLJA claims is expected to continue in the months ahead. The total number of Lejeune claims could easily reach 75,000 in 2023.
January 6, 2023 Update – PACT Act Anniversary
We are coming up five months since the PACT Act was passed. That means in just 35 days, an avalanche of lawsuits will start hitting the Eastern District of North Carolina. Indeed, the courts will give the government some grace as they manage this caseload. Their sympathy for the government’s difficulties will be enhanced by their own problems managing litigation of this size.
But we have to get this show on the road at some point. The question remains how the DOJ and the court plan to handle the massive flood of Camp Lejeune cases that will require just a ton of work for everyone.
January 1, 2023 Update – Camp Lejeune Global Settlement Estimated Payouts
In a story about Camp Lejeune claims published earlier this week, Bloomberg News reported that the Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the CLJA claims will cost “$6.1 billion over the next ten years.” This is based on the CBO cost analysis issued in February 2022 when the CLJA was first introduced.
This is an understatement. The CBO subsequently issued another report which revised its estimate for how much the CLJA claims would cost. Even if we go with this number, however, and we assume that the total number of claims with be around 20,000, that would equate to per claim average of $305,000.
But 20,000 claims vastly underestimates the number of Camp Lejeune settlements we will see. So the $6.1 billion number was antiquated from the very beginning.
December 29, 2022 – Camp Lejeune Court Ruling
A judge in the Eastern District of North Carolina has dismissed eight of the Camp Lejeune legacy cases for failing to refile administrative claims with JAG after the CLJA was passed.
Judge James C. Denver, III, ruled (Order CLJA) that when the CLJA was passed in August, it created entirely new legal claims that could not be related back to the prior lawsuits filed by the legacy plaintiffs.
Judge Denver explained that allowing the legacy plaintiffs to move forward without resubmitting their claims would “effectively abrogate portions of the [CLJA] and invite a flood of early lawsuits into a single court with four … judges.” Although this ruling only applied to eight of the 22 legacy cases, it will most likely be followed by the other judges in their cases.
Is this a big deal? As our lawyers have said, this takes away an advantage for those individual plaintiffs who are now pushed back in line with everyone else. But it might be suitable for all plaintiffs.
Why? Those cases would have had priority because they were filed first. But if you read the complaints, they are largely not the Parkinson’s disease, kidney cancer, etc., cases our attorneys think are the best to push forward. Most Camp Lejeune lawyers are bringing their best cases first. This is good for those plaintiffs and all plaintiffs because they will set the tone for Camp Lejeune settlements and verdicts.
December 28, 2022 – When Will Camp Lejeune Settlements Finally Begin?
Victims in the Camp Lejeune litigation are smart. They understand that a lawyer cannot tell them exactly when their lawsuit will settle.
But when do we think settlements might begin? Is it six months or six years? Our lawyers tackle this challenging question in a page we updated today on when we think Camp Lejeune lawsuits will begin to settle (and speculation about average settlement amounts in specific types of claims).
December 26, 2022 – Risk of Inconsistent Verdicts in North Carolina
The government filed identical motions to dismiss all Camp Lejeune legacy cases in which the plaintiffs filed suit without resubmitting a claim to JAG first. At least two judges in the Eastern District of North Carolina will be ruling on these identical motions.
Some motions have been referred to Judge Terrence W. Boyle Jr., while Judge Louise Wood Flanagan will decide others. This creates the potential for multiple inconsistent rulings on the same issue.
December 14, 2022 – Lung Cancer Lejeune Settlement Amounts
We recently updated the estimated settlement amounts for Camp Lejeune lung cancer lawsuits. Why? Further reflection on how the equipoise standard of proof unique to Camp Lejeune will impact those claims, especially for plaintiffs with a smoking history.
December 13, 2022 – Getting Consistent Camp Lejeune Rulings
In all Camp Lejeune legacy cases, the court clerk recently entered a note on the docket stating that the government’s motion to dismiss for failure to refile administrative claims has been “submitted to District Judge Terrence W. Boyle.”
This presumably means that the motion in all legacy cases will be subject to a single decision and ruling by Judge Boyle. No hearing date or additional information has been provided.
One judge ruling on all of these cases makes sense. Otherwise, you risk conflicting opinions, which is not what the Camp Lejeune litigation needs.
December 1, 2022 – New Report on the Number of Camp Lejeune Claims
The Navy JAG Tort Claims Unit reports that the number of claims filed by Camp Lejeune victims under the new CLJA is now up to 14,000. This number could easily double over the next few months.
Again, the JAG has not taken meaningful steps toward resolving or evaluating any of these claims. We are still waiting for a claim portal to get set up to enable claimants to submit support documentation.
November 28, 2022 – JAG Getting Closer to Processing Claims?
The Navy JAG Tort Claims Unit has received thousands of Camp Lejeune administrative claims since the CLJA was passed in August. JAG only has a 6-month deadline to take action on these claims, but no action has been taken in any of them.
What is holding up the process right now is the development of an online electronic claim portal to enable claimants to submit supporting documentation for their claims. A notice on the JAG website indicates that “substantiating” records (e.g., military service and medical records) for individual claims will be requested for specific claims, but not until “after the upcoming electronic portal has been launched.” The electronic portal is expected to be similar to the ECF system used in the federal courts. It will enable claimants to log in to their “claim file” and upload supporting documents when prompted.
November 24, 2022 – Camp Lejeune Pretrial Battle Over Legacy Cases Continues
Last week, lawyers for the government filed another brief in support of their motion to dismiss the Camp Lejeune legacy cases that were refiled after the passage of the CLJA without resubmitting new admin claims to JAG.
In this most recent brief, the DOJ lawyers argue that pre-CLJA admin claims don’t count because “the government’s assessment of its liability on pre-CLJA claims was based entirely because have been abrogated by the CLJA.”
While this makes some sense, the legacy plaintiffs correctly point out that the government can reassess the previously filed administrative claims based on the current post-CLJA landscape. Although there are some strategic reasons for the legacy plaintiffs to win this argument, the outcome of this battle will have minimal impact on the majority of Camp Lejeune cases.
November 18, 2022 – Getting Camp Lejeune Records from the Military
Veterans can obtain copies of their military service records from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). Military records will be vital in every Camp Lejeune lawsuit. Not surprisingly, NARA has recently been overwhelmed with a flood of requests from Camp Lejeune veterans seeking service records to support their water contamination lawsuits.
This flood of requests has strained NARA’s resources and caused a significant backlog. When you visit the NARA’s Military Service Records webpage, a new highlight box appears at the top entitled “Important Notice Regarding the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022.”
The text in the box notes that the Navy JAG does not require service records to support an initial claim but “may request records from claimants at a later date.”
This notice warns that getting military records for a CLJA claim will be a long, frustrating process. Under normal circumstances, the response time for service record requests is 3-5 months. But your lawyers can continue to push your toxic water claim forward while waiting on these records.
- More Camp Lejeune Legislation News: We have been updating these cases from the beginning. Get all the updates for the entire history of the path to the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022.
What Happened at Camp Lejeune?
Camp Lejeune represents the worst public water system contamination in American history. From 1953 to 1987, the water supply at the Marine Corps base at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina was contaminated with dangerously high levels of carcinogenic chemicals. Marines, their families, and people who worked at Camp Lejeune drank and bathed in water contaminated with more than 70 chemicals and toxins at levels 240 to 3400 times permitted by safety standards.
The main chemicals that will be the focus of a Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuit are three volatile organic compounds: trichloroethylene (TCE), perchloroethylene (PCE), and benzene. Our military and their families were unknowingly digesting water contaminated with awful toxins every day.
This toxic water did not create just a theoretical risk of harm. Scientific and medical evidence has shown undeniably that exposure to this contaminated water while living or working at Camp Lejeune caused thousands to develop cancer, birth defects, and other conditions.
North Carolina law had blocked these Camp Lejeune victims from bringing cancer lawsuits and other claims against the government. Now, Congress passed a new federal law enabling victims of water contamination at Camp Lejeune to file claims and get financial compensation.
Our national mass tort lawyers are now accepting new Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuits from victims who lived or worked at the base between 1953 and 1987 and were subsequently diagnosed with leukemia, bladder cancer, kidney cancer, liver cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, multiple myeloma, and other injuries addressed below.
Contaminated Water Supply at Camp Lejeune Base
Camp Lejeune is a sprawling Marine Corps military base and operational training facility that has been used since 1942. The base, which several satellite facilities service, occupies a total area of 250 square miles in Onslow County, North Carolina.
Camp Lejeune is the traditional home base of many resident Marine Corps commands, including the II Marine Expeditionary Force. It has been used for military training operations by various branches of the armed forces.
In the 1980s, the Marine Corps tested the two primary water treatment facilities supplying water to Camp Lejeune. This testing revealed that Camp Lejeune’s water supply contained high levels of chemicals that are known to be toxic and linked to cancer.
The Marine Corps testing also determined that the water supply to Camp Lejeune had been contaminated with toxic chemicals since the 1950s. The full-time range of the Camp Lejeune water contamination (in both treatment facilities) is from 1953 to 1987. During those 30 years, 750,000 people were exposed to contaminated water.
What Chemicals Were Found in the Water at Camp Lejeune?
The water supply at Camp Lejeune from the 1950s to the 1980s was contaminated with two specific chemicals: Perchloroethylene (PCE) and Trichloroethylene (TCE). These chemicals were found at extremely high levels in two water treatment plants servicing the base, the Hadnot Point treatment plant and the Tarawa Terrace water plant.
The TCE contamination occurred mainly in the Hadnot Point water treatment facility. TCE is an odorless, colorless liquid chemical used for industrial purposes. For decades, TCE was commonly used by the U.S. military as a solvent and degreaser for cleaning large metal weapons and equipment. TCE is also used to make refrigerants.
The EPA’s maximum safe level of TCE in drinking water is five parts per billion (ppb). The water from the Hadnot Point plant was found to contain TCE levels as high as 1,400 ppb. The TCE contamination at the Hadnot Point plant occurred from 1953 to 1985.
The PCE contamination was found in the Tarawa Terrance water treatment plant at Camp Lejeune. PCE is a clear liquid with a mild odor primarily used as a fabric solvent in the commercial dry-cleaning industry. The contamination at the Tarawa plant was traced to ABC One-Hour Cleaners, a nearby dry-cleaning business.
The EPA has set the maximum safe level for PCE for drinking water at five ppb. The water from the Tarawa treatment plant going to Camp Lejeune contained PCE levels as high as 215 ppb, 43 times the maximum safe limit. It was eventually determined that the PCE contamination at the Tarawa plant existed for most of Camp Lejeune’s history.
But shutting down the wells did not change anything for the million people exposed to this unbelievably contaminated water. The government did a study in 2013 on the water at Camp Lejeune. It found PCE, TCE, vinyl chloride, and benzene levels that were among the highest ever recorded in drinking water in American history.
Studies Link Contaminants in Camp Lejeune Water to Cancer
The chemicals in the Camp Lejeune water supply for four decades are well-known to be highly harmful to the human body. They have been associated with cert types of cancer, neurologic disorders, and birth defects.
Medical studies and research has established that prolonged exposure to TCE and PCE is associated with higher rates of certain cancers. The cancers that have been linked to TCE and PCE exposure in drinking water at Camp Lejeune include:
Since the discovery of the water contamination at Camp Lejeune, many scientific studies have assessed the health impact of water contamination on Camp Lejeune residents and employees. All these studies conclude that exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune significantly increased mortality risk from cancers and other chronic diseases.
One of the first major Camp Lejeune water studies lead by CDC scientist Frank Bove and published in 2014 in the journal Environmental Health. The Bove Stud, a retrospective cohort study, looked at the mortality data for military personnel stationed at Camp Lejeune from 1975 to 1985. This data set was compared to the same mortality data for personnel stationed at another military base where the water was not contaminated (Camp Pendleton, CA).
The Bove Study found that Marines at Camp Lejeune had elevated risks for several causes of death, including kidney, liver, esophageal, and cervical cancer. Camp Lejeune residents also had higher rates of multiple myeloma, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and Lou Gehrig’s disease.
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), part of the CDC, has been conducting comprehensive studies on the health risks of water contamination at Camp Lejeune for several decades. Many ATSDR studies show clear evidence that water contamination causes higher cancer and death rates.
What are the most common cancers diagnosed from Camp Lejeune? Breast cancer, bladder cancer, multiple myeloma, and renal cancer.
Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Caused Other Injuries
Other health conditions, such as aplastic anemia (and other myelodysplastic syndromes) and neurologic disorders, have also been linked to exposure to PCE and TCE. Other injuries include:
- ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease)
- Birth Defects and Injuries
- Brain Damage
- Cardiac Defect
- Fatty Liver Disease
- Hepatic Steatosis
- Immune disorders
- Myelodysplastic syndromes
- Neurobehavioral Effects
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Plastic anemia (and other bone marrow conditions)
- Renal Toxicity
Study Links Camp Lejeune Water Contamination to Birth Defects
To this day, Camp Lejeune is an essential military base that defends our country. It is a vast and vibrant Marine Corps base that uses fuel, electrical transformers, machine shops, pesticides, fire training, dry cleaning, trash removal, utility maintenance services, construction, mechanical support maintenance services, chemical treatment operations… the list goes on and on.
Over 20 years, the failure to properly maintain a safe water supply at Camp Lejeune resulted in water contamination with high levels of TCE, PCE, and other chemicals. Thousands of pregnant women lived, worked on the base, and drank water. The result will be a large number of Camp Lejeune birth defect lawsuits.
One key piece of research that will be relied on in a Camp Lejeune lawsuit will be studied by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). These scientific studies concluded that maternal exposure to contaminated water a Camp Lejeune resulted in a significantly higher rate of neural tube congenital disabilities such as spina bifida.
The ATSDR study looked at birth defect rates for women who resided at Camp Lejeune at some point during pregnancy and had children born between 1968 and 1985. The study showed a clear link between gestational exposure to PCE and TCE in the Camp Lejeune water and neural tube congenital disabilities (“NTD”).
Children exposed to the contaminated Camp Lejeune water during the first trimester of pregnancy displayed NTD birth defect rates nearly five times higher than usual. Five times. That is a stunning and tragic number of babies enduring permanent and avoidable injuries.
Military Ignored and Concealed the Water Contamination at Camp Lejeune
In recent years, a long trail of evidence has been uncovered that clearly shows that the U.S. Marine Corps knew about the Camp Lejeune water contamination for years but first ignored and then later actively concealed the issue.
The dangerous water contamination at Camp Lejeune was first discovered in 1980 when new EPA regulations were enacted, requiring the military to perform testing for the first time.
The U.S. Army Environmental Hygiene Agency did the testing.In March 1981, that agency provided a report to the U.S. Marine Corps warning that “[w]ater is highly contaminated with other chlorinated hydrocarbons (solvents)!” No immediate action was taken in response.
In 1982, the USMC contracted Grainger Laboratories to extensively test Camp Lejeune’s water supply system. Grainger submitted a report confirming that certain water supply wells servicing the base were heavily contaminated with TCE and PCE. One of the Grainger scientists also met with the deputy director of base utilities at Camp Lejeune to warn him about the tainted water problem. But the USMC official refused to address the issue.
A month later, in August 1982, another Grainger chemist sent a letter to the Camp Lejeune base commander (Marine Maj. General D.J. Fulham) advising that the water supply wells were “poisoned.” Once again, no action was taken by the Marine Corps. Grainger provided additional warnings about the water contamination to Marine Corps officials in December 1982, March 1983, and September 1983.
In April 1983, however, USMC officials at Camp Lejeune submitted a report to the EPA falsely stating that there were no environmental contamination issues at the base. In June 1983, North Carolina’s water supply administration asked the USMC to provide Grainger’s water testing reports for Camp Lejeune. The Marine Corps flatly refused to disclose the testing reports, and in December 1983, they reduced the level of water testing being done by Grainger at the base.
In July 1984, a new laboratory was contracted to test the water at Lejeune as part of the EPA superfund program. This testing found that Camp Lejeune water was contaminated with dangerously high TCE, PCE, and benzene levels. At this point, the USMC finally agreed to begin shutting down the contaminated water wells. In December 1984, the USMC formally notified North Carolina officials about the contamination but withheld vital details such as the discovery of benzene in addition to TCE and PCE.
In 1992, the USMC submitted a report for a federal health review which admitted to the prior TCE and PCE contamination in the water. In that same report, however, the USMC failed to disclose that the water was also contaminated with benzene, even though Marine Corps officials were fully aware.
In 2005, the EPA and the Department of Justice launched a formal investigation into the USMC’s handling of the Camp Lejeune water contamination issue. This investigation ultimately concluded that no USMC officials had engaged in criminal conduct concerning the Camp Lejeune water problem. In 2007, however, it was revealed that EPA officials involved in the investigation wanted to charge several Lejeune officials with obstruction of justice. But they were overruled by the DOJ prosecutors.
U.S. Veterans Affairs Supports Core of Camp Lejeune Lawsuit
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs found that only 30-day continuous exposure to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune during the years between 1953 and 1987 may qualify veterans and their family members for health benefits if they suffer leukemia, bladder cancer, liver cancer, kidney cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer, multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, miscarriage, neurobehavioral effects, and the autoimmune disease scleroderma.
Our Camp Lejeune lawyers believe this is just the start of the list of harms caused by contaminated water at Camp Lejeune.
New Law Allows Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawsuits
The Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuit’s dismissal created public outrage because it meant that thousands of innocent victims (including military veterans and their families) would be denied compensation for serious injuries. In response, a new federal law was passed by Congress called the Camp Lejeune Justice Act (“CLJA”).
The CLJA circumvents the North Carolina statute of repose and allows victims to file lawsuits in federal court if they were exposed (even in-utero) to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days.
Lower Burden of Proof for a Camp Lejeune Lawsuit
Victims of Camp Lejeune water contamination who are hesitant to bring a claim often fear not being able to prove their claims. But there is a much easier evidentiary burden for proving causation in a Camp Lejeune lawsuit than you would have in a typical case.
To prove causation, the CLJA merely requires claimants to “produce evidence” showing that “a causal relationship is at least as likely as not.” This is referred to as “equipoise” causation, and it will be the first time this standard is applied in a civil case. Why? This is how the law was written to make it easier for veterans to make a claim.
So what will this mean for your case? It should mean that you won’t have to battle quite as hard to prove that your disease is connected to the Camp Lejeune water, even when you may have other risk factors.
You will see how this plays out as this litigation moves forward in 2023. For example, if you were a smoker, it would be challenging to prove that your lung cancer was caused by the water and not the cigarettes. Under equipoise, however, the contaminated water could be “at least as likely” as the cigarettes to be the cause.
Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawsuit Settlement Amounts
If the CLJA is passed by Senate and becomes law, it will potentially give thousands of Camp Lejeune victims the right to file a civil lawsuit in federal court in North Carolina. As the bill is currently written, claimants must file their suits within two years after the CLJA is enacted.
This bill aims to ensure victims get fair Camp Lejeune water settlement amounts as compensation. This compensation is for the suffering they have endured from the water contamination at Camp Lejeune. This applies to the water contamination victims and those who lost loved ones and wish to bring a wrongful death lawsuit.
Claimants who file a lawsuit under the CLJA would need to prove that they were exposed to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune between 1953 and 1987 and that they subsequently developed one of the cancer types or other health conditions that have been linked to the water contamination.
Successful claimants who establish these requirements will be entitled to the full range of compensatory damages available in tort cases (past and future medical expenses, pain and suffering, etc.). Any amounts awarded to claimants will be offset by any VA benefit payments they received for the alleged injuries.
Calculating Camp Lejeune Settlement Amounts
There are too many variables for our lawyers to come up with a very accurate estimate for the potential settlement value of Camp Lejeune water contamination cases. But we can make an educated guess by examining the settlement amounts in prior cases involving similar injuries.
In the Camp Lejeune cases, the primary injuries will be Parkinson’s disease, lung cancer, leukemia, liver cancer, kidney cancer, and lymphoma. Based on these last points of comparison, our lawyers think the Camp Lejeune lawsuit cancer cases could have settlement amounts between $175,000 and $350,000. Parkinson’s disease settlements will likely be higher.
The tricky thing here is how to bake in the politics involved in a Camp Lejeune lawsuit. This is harder to read and project because there are few similar class action lawsuits against the government in such a politically charged case. This door swings both ways in terms of impact on settlement amounts.
But, most likely, it pushes settlement compensation higher than lower because of the politics of being on the right side of veterans. Is it hard to spend $30 billion as compensation for injury and wrongful death claims brought by Marine veterans serving our country when we spend $40 billion on Ukrainian Aid Package #7?
Moreover, the legislative intent of Congress is clearly to compensate victims fairly. Is that intent satisfied by paying soldiers and their families who suffered and often died of cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and other similarly awful conditions a $200,000 settlement per person? Our lawyers do not think Congress intended to go through all this trouble to serve victims half a cup of justice.
Camp Lejeune Settlements Are Likely to Go Smoothly (After Some Early Chaos)
The government will not go through the trouble of allowing victims to make a claim, only to fight them tooth and nail. So while there are no certainties in litigation, our lawyers expect a global settlement payout covering most of these Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuits before a single trial.
Calculating $22 Billion Set Projected Camp Lejeune Settlement Amounts
The Congressional Budget Office – a flawed bureaucracy but still the best governmental agency at projecting cost in the history of the world – has projected $22 billion to settle these cases.
There are two schools of thought on this. One is that the CBO has made meaningful projections based on estimated Camp Lejeune lawsuits they expect to be filed. The other school of thought is that even the CBO cannot project this. It is like trying to project where the stock market will be in 10 years. So the $22 billion is likely a floor that can be raised if more claims come in than hoped.
There Will Be a Range of Camp Lejeune Settlement Amounts
It is also important to understand there may be a range of settlements from over $1 million per person to as little as $25,000. Cancer and Parkinson’s disease Camp Lejeune lawsuits will likely fetch higher settlement amounts. Some other injuries might have smaller water contamination settlement compensation payouts.
At this point, many of you are reading this and feel like our lawyers have yet to tell you anything about the settlement compensation payout you might receive for your case. It is too early to project settlement amounts. But attorneys have opinions on settlement amounts. If you want gun-to-the-head per person Camp Lejeune settlement amount projections, here they are:
Bladder Cancer – $182,500
Brain Cancer – $800,000
Breast Cancer – $250,000
Cervical Cancer – $202,500
Colon Cancer – $150,000
Kidney Cancer – $250,000
Liver Cancer – $370,000
Lung Cancer – $325,000 (non-smoker projection)
Lymphoma – $225,000
Parkinson’s Disease – $775,000 (this is low)
Esophageal Cancer – $300,000 (non-smoker projection)
Ovarian Cancer – $287,500
Leukemia – $250,000
Wrongful Death $625,000
Birth Defects (Major) $1,125,000
This is the average per person Camp Lejeune water contamination settlement amounts we project. These are LOW settlement compensation estimates. We do not want to set settlement payout expectations through the roof.
There will be wild variation around these averages. So even if our estimates are accurate, there will likely be claims with settlements that easily exceed $1 million for all of these cases. You can also expect settlement payouts that are less than half of this average.
Every single one of these cases will likely have an average jury payout – as opposed to a settlement – in the millions.
How Do I File a Claim for Camp Lejeune Water Contamination?
Victims who meet the qualifying criteria can pursue their claims by filing a tort lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina.
Under the newly enacted CLJA, anyone who lived or worked at Camp Lejeune for a minimum of 30 days between 1953 and 1987 will be entitled to bring a tort suit in the Eastern District of North Carolina for injuries related to the contaminated water. The CLJA requires all plaintiffs to go through a 6-month administrative claim process:
(h) Disposition By Federal Agency Required.- An individual may not bring an action under this section before complying with section 2675 of title 28, United States Code.
Before filing a bad water lawsuit, prospective plaintiffs must submit a claim to the “appropriate federal agency” before filing a civil suit against the government. In this case, that is the JAG at the Department of Navy. The new law gives the agency 6-months to accept or deny the claim. Claimants cannot file their lawsuit in federal court until the administrative claim is denied or the 6-month deadline expires.
Our water contamination attorneys expect that the CLJA administrative claims could function more like a settlement mediation process. Claims will likely go through some initial screening process. After this, reasonable Camp Lejeune settlement amounts might be made before the six-month expires, and a water contamination lawsuit can be brought. Many Camp Lejeune claims may be settled during this administrative claim process before a civil lawsuit is filed.
Our Camp Lejeune lawyers believe the CLJA administrative claim process may play out this way for two reasons. First, the intent of Congress in passing the CLJA was to compensate victims of the water contamination at Camp Lejeune. Second, the handling of the CLJA claims process will be controlled by the Biden administration. President Biden is a strong supporter of the idea of compensating deserving veterans. (This could be wishful thinking, too.)
What Are Neurological Conditions Linked to Camp Lejune Water Contamination?
The ATSR and other studies on the effect of water contamination at Camp Lejeune have found that certain neurologic disorders, such as dementia and Parkinson’s disease, appear to be associated with exposure to the water at Camp Lejeune.
Is There a Camp Lejeune Class Action Lawsuit?
There is not a Camp Lejeune class action lawsuit. Most lawsuits like this are class action lawsuits. But there will not be a Camp Lejeune class action lawsuit like an MDL.
How Camp Lejeune Wrongful Death Claims Work
There are two kinds of Camp Lejeune lawsuits. The first is for victims with a Camp Lejeune claim for their injuries. The second is a wrongful death and survival action claim for losing a loved one.
Under the new CLJA, civil lawsuits can now be brought on behalf of former employees or residents of Lejeune who are now deceased because of injuries related to the contaminated water. These cases would be brought under North Carolina law because that is where the exposure to the contaminated water occurred so this section will take a brief look at death claims in North Carolina.
Two types of tort claims can be brought in North Carolina on behalf of a decedent: (a) a wrongful death claim; and (b) a survivorship claim. Both claims are based on statutes.
Camp Lejeune Wrongful Death Actions
Wrongful death claims are based on North Carolina Gen. Stat. § 28A-18-2, which gives the personal representative of the estate standing to bring a lawsuit against anyone who negligently or intentionally caused the decedent’s death. Some states permit any close family member to bring wrongful death claims, and North Carolina only allows the decedent’s estate to bring these claims. The personal representative of the state brings the suit and then distributes any settlement proceeds among the heirs.
Damages for a wrongful death claim in North Carolina can be awarded for (1) medical expenses, (2) pain & mental suffering, (3) the decedent’s lost earnings, (4) loss of the decedent’s services and companionship, and (5) funeral expenses. Punitive damages are unavailable unless the plaintiff shows that the defendant acted maliciously.
Camp Lejeune Survival Actions
In addition to wrongful death, North Carolina also recognizes a separate claim under North Carolina Gen. Stat. § 28A-18-1, known as a survivorship claim. A survival claim is the decedent’s own personal injury claim that they had and which survives their death.
North Carolina survivorship claims can recover for pre-death damages and injuries if they are separate and distinct from the conduct giving rise to the wrongful death claim. North Carolina only allows survivor claims by the personal representative of the decedent’s estate. You can get a Camp Lejeune settlement without being the PR of the estate. But the lawsuit must be initiated by the estate’s personal representative on behalf of the family members for the death.
Will victims have to open an estate in North Carolina to bring a claim? Camp Lejeune lawyers have a split opinion on that issue. We want to avoid giving the JAG a technical reason to reject an early settlement of your claim. Either way, this is an issue that your attorney can work through for you.
Get a Camp Lejeune Lawyer to Fight for You
Our Camp Lejeune attorneys have talked to thousands of victims in this litigation. Our law firm is looking for new Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuit cases that meet the following criteria:
- You served, lived, or worked on the Camp Lejeune base for at least one month between 1953 and 1987.
- You have been subsequently diagnosed with: bladder cancer, kidney cancer, liver cancer, leukemia, colon cancer, multiple myeloma, lymphoma, or other cancer or Parkinson’s disease, some other neurologic condition, or another condition listed above.
You can contact us today at 800-553-8082 for a free consultation or reach out to our Camp Lejeune lawyers online.