The biggest question we are getting from victims is when will they get a Camp Lejeune settlement check. Most victims understand that no lawyer can give them the exact date they will receive a settlement offer or an eventual payout.
The JAG, who is administering these claims for the government, says it is “committed to resolving all claims related to this matter in a fair and timely manner.”
But what does this mean to you in terms of when your Camp Lejeune lawsuit will settle? Victims do want some idea. Is it six months? A year? Two years? How long do lawyers really think it will take for Camp Lejeune lawsuits to settle?
On this page, our Camp Lejeune lawyers provide our best answer to the question of when the Camp Lejeune cases could settle based on how the cases have been handled so far and the procedural landscape attorneys and victims face. And, yes, we make a prediction about when we will see the first Camp Lejeune settlements.
Thousands of Camp Lejeune Victims File Claims Under CLJA
The Camp Lejeune Marine Corps base in North Carolina was the scene of one of the worst water contaminations in U.S. history. From 1953 to the late 1980s, the drinking water at Camp Lejeune contained extremely high levels of toxic, cancer-causing chemicals. What made Camp Lejeune especially tragic, however, was the fact that the victims of this contamination were primarily people who were serving their country in the military.
Once the water contamination at Camp Lejeune was eventually made public, Federal health agencies such as the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) came in and began doing testing and research to assess the impact. The ATSDR studies ultimately found that exposure to the contaminated water at Lejeune caused higher rates of several different types of cancer, along with other health conditions.
Based on these findings, many victims of the Camp Lejeune contamination pursued civil lawsuits seeking compensation from the government for injuries caused by the toxic water. Several hundred cases were filed in the early 2000s. All of these cases were eventually dismissed, however, based on legal technicalities. A federal legal rule called the Feres doctrine, and North Carolina’s statute of repose effectively barred any Camp Lejeune victims from bringing civil suits for their injuries.
Not surprisingly, this was viewed as major injustice. In August 2022, Congress stepped in and sought to make things right by passing the Camp Lejeune Justice Act (CLJA), which was part of larger bill called the PACT Act. Under the CLJA, anyone who lived or worked at Camp Lejeune between 1953 and 1988 for at least 30 days has the right to bring a claim against the government and seek compensation for injuries caused by the contaminated water.
As of April 2023, 20,000 Camp Lejeune victims have filed claims under the CLJA. Thousands of additional Camp Lejeune claims are expected to be filed moving forward.The rate of new Camp Lejeune water contamination injury claims will probably continue at this pace over the year.
Camp Lejeune Class Action Lawsuit
There will not be a pure Camp Lejeune class action lawsuit. But the government and plaintiffs’ lawyer have jointly asked the court to consolidate the Camp Lejeune lawsuits to some extent for both discovery and to eventually distribute settlements. In April 2023, we are waiting to the court to respond but it will likely agree. This litigation is unwieldly without some sort of hub to sort out the path of these claims.
Timeline for Camp Lejeune Settlements?
Thousands of Camp Lejeune claimants who filed for compensation under the CLJA are now left to wonder when they can expect to get that compensation. Will the government make settlement offers on Camp Lejeune claims, or will these cases have to go to trial?
Before giving our best answers to these questions, we first need to explain the 2-step process that all CLJA claims must go through.
STEP 1: File an Administrative Claim with The Navy
Under the CLJA, qualifying Camp Lejeune victims have the right to bring a civil lawsuit against the government to get compensation for their injuries. However, the CLJA states that before civil lawsuits can be filed in court, Camp Lejeune victims must first file an “administrative claim” with the Navy Judge Advocates General (JAG).
Filing and exhausting an administrative claim with JAG is a mandatory perquisite under the CLJA. Anyone who wants to file a Camp Lejeune lawsuit under the CLJA must first submit a claim to JAG. After a claim is filed with JAG, claimants must wait until:
(i) the claim is formally denied by JAG; or
(ii) 6-months have passed since perfection of the claim and JAG has taken no action.
STEP 2: File a Civil Lawsuit in Federal Court
Once the JAG administrative claim requirement has been satisfied (either because JAG denied the claim or 6-months have passed) CLJA claimants are eligible to move on to the next step which involves filing a civil lawsuit. This starts next month on February 20, 2023. This is when the litigation really get started and hopefully this jump starts Camp Lejeune settlement efforts.
The CLJA permits Camp Lejeune victims to file civil lawsuits against the federal government for injuries caused by the toxic water. The CLJA requires that all Camp Lejeune lawsuits must be filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina. So every claim whether the victim is in California, New York, Texas, or anywhere in the U.S., will be filed in North Carolina which has exclusive jurisdiction over every Camp Lejeune lawsuit.
Once the civil lawsuit is filed, it will follow the normal procedural steps just like any other personal injury case in federal court. There will be a discovery phase and various procedural deadlines. At this point, the Camp Lejeune cases have not been consolidated into an MDL or class action lawsuit. This means that each individual Camp Lejeune case will have its own deadlines and schedule. There will not be a Camp Lejeune class action lawsuit. But there may be some consolidations for limited purposes to streamline the work in these cases.
Because thousands of Camp Lejeune lawsuits are going to be filed starting in February (6-months after the first JAG claims were submitted). With this volume of cases, it simply will not be possible for the government (or the court for that matter) to litigate each individual Camp Lejeune lawsuit.
At some point, the Camp Lejeune cases will have to be consolidated together in some way. What form that will ultimately take is unclear to the lawyers, even though we are four months into this litigation.
When Will the Government Make Camp Lejeune Settlement Offers?
The government WILL make settlement offers in a large percentage of Camp Lejeune cases. That is one thing we can say with almost absolute certainty. There are already 14,000 claims, and based on the language of the CLJA, there is no way these cases are going to be dismissed in bulk like last time.
It is hard to overstate the enormity of this litigtion. There is also no way that the government can separately litigate even a small percentage of these cases, let alone take them to trial. There were only 2,121 civil trials in the entire federal judiciary system last year (only 1,600 were jury trials) and there were less than a dozen civil trials in the Eastern District of North Carolina. It will just not be physically possible for even 1% of the Camp Lejeune cases to go to trial. Sure, there tort lawsuits with more plaintiffs. But there is no Camp Lejeune class action lawsuit. So every Lejune claim stands alone. This creates a ton of work for everyone – the government, the plaintiffs’ attorneys, and the courthouse staff in North Carolina.
So what does this mean? It means that the only way the government can realistically hope to resolve the thousands of Camp Lejeune cases is by implementing some type of global settlement strategy. Billions of dollars have already been earmarked for that purpose. The only question is when and how Camp Lejeune settlements will happen.. and how much the settlement compensation will be. Settlement payouts are harder to project. But, as you see below, we have given this a lot of thought and have come up with expected Camp Lejeune payouts for victims.
In April 2023, we see the goverment working more closely with plaintiffs’ lawyer which could be a harbinger for settlement talks.
Settlements During JAG Claim Process
When the CLJA was first passed, our lawyers optimistically assumed that the government would attempt to settle a large percentage of Camp Lejeune claims during the 6-month JAG admin claim phase. This seemed to make sense given the reality that litigating the cases separately was not going to be possible. In hindsight, that was wildly naive. Victims filing early will be forced to file a Camp Lejuene suit to push toward settlement.
It has now been five months since the first round of Camp Lejeune administrative claims were filed with JAG. This means that JAG only has two months left before the six-month deadline expires on these claims.
So far, however, JAG has given no indication that they are going to be making settlement offers on these claims before they move on to STEP 2 and file civil lawsuits. But even more dishearting for those hoping for early settlements, the JAG has not even been accepting or reviewing supporting documentation for CLJA claims (military service records, medical records, etc.).
Instead, JAG’s website says they are working on a CLJA Claim Portal to enable the submission of supporting documents. With only two months remaining before the initial claimants can file their civil cases, it seems highly unlikely that JAG is going to be in a position to screen claims and make settlement offers.
Think about it. The JAG cannot does not have the resources to receive medical records, much less read them and make settlement offers based on the records. We want to give people good news that Camp Lejeune settlements are not far away. But that reality is a powerful antidote to that optimism.
Camp Lejeune Settlement Offers After Filing Civil Lawsuit
Once the six-month administrative claim requirement is satisfied, the initial CLJA claimants will move on to file civil lawsuits in the EDNC. Once this happens, things will change significantly because the government won’t have time to sit around and do nothing. Once a civil case is pending, deadlines will start to be set and the government will essentially be forced to resolve the Camp Lejeune cases or be overwhelmed.
Our attorneys expect that the Department of Justice will develop some type of global settlement program in which Camp Lejeune plaintiffs can qualify for a settlement offer by going through a claim verification process. Honestly, it is surprising they have not developed such a process yet to at least try to get ahead of the curve. The DOJ will require plaintiffs to provide supporting documents, and once these are received a predetermine settlement offer will be made base on a valuation matrix.
The matrix will basically provide settlement values for cases that fall into certain categories or tiers, similar to settlement tiers we see in mass torts. Plaintiffs in the top settlement tiers will get the highest settlement offer amounts, while plaintiffs in lower settlement tiers will get smaller settlement offers.
When We Expect the First Camp Lejeune Settlement Offers?
Our best guess in January 2023 is that we might see the earliest Camp Lejeune settlements between the summer 2023 and early 2024.
The could prove overly optimistic. But necessity is the mother of invention for competent people. And the JAG and the DOJ are filled with extremely talented people. The pressure of pre-trial obligations and pending trial dates will force the JAG to get up to speed and make settlement offers to make the Camp Lejeune litigation more managable.
What Will Impact Camp Lejeune Settlement Offers?
We talk more elsewhere about the settlement amounts we project in the Camp Lejeune litigation. The most significant factor in determining how much a Camp Lejeune case is worth, and what settlement tier the case might end up in, is the type of injury alleged by the plaintiff. Some injuiries and cancers are strongly linked to the water at Camp Lejuene. Others have a more tenuous connection and that is reflected in our settlement estimates.
Below are our current settlement payout value estimates for Camp Lejeune cases based on injury type.
INJURY TYPE ESTIMATED SETTLEMENT AMOUNT
The most significant factor in determining how much a Camp Lejeune case is worth, and what settlement Tier the case might end up in, with be the type of injury alleged by the plaintiff. Below are our current settlement payout value estimates for Camp Lejeune cases based on injury type.
|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||$1,000,000– $1,500,000|
|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|
If you click on the links, you will get further detail as to how we arrived at these Camp Lejeune setlement compensation predictions.
We put time and effort to forecast these settlement amounts. But they are just predictions as to what the average payouts might be. Our lawyers continue to revise these projections as new information becomes available.
Contact Our Camp Lejeune Lawyers
Our Camp Lejeune attorneys have talked to thousands of victims in this litigation. Contact us today at 800-553-8082 for a free consultation or reach out to our Camp Lejeune lawyers online.