Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune Lawsuit (Updated for 2023)

By Osborne & Francis
October 25, 2023

A new bill will allow veterans and others to obtain justice and compensation for injuries associated with toxic exposure at U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. Nearly a million veterans, civilians, and their families may have been exposed to contaminated water at the site.

People living or working at Camp Lejeune may have been exposed to water contaminated with toxins at concentrations anywhere from 240 to 3,400 times the levels allowed by safety standards.

The bill will allow those affected by the contaminated water to pursue a claim through the federal court system. However, claims will be subject to strict filing deadlines, so it’s important to take action quickly if you think you have a case. At Osborne & Francis, our attorneys have experience representing military families in the 3M lawsuits, as well as those who have faced toxic exposure from RoundUp and Paraquat. Contact a lawyer promptly at (561) 293-2600 to discuss your legal rights and options in a confidential setting.

What Was in the Drinking Water at Camp Lejeune?

Military personnel, their families, and civilians working at Camp Lejeune may have been exposed to a whole host of toxic substances there. These include:

  • Tetrachlorethylene (PCE)
  • Trichloroethylene (TCE)
  • Vinyl Chloride (VC)
  • Benzene
  • Heavy Metals
  • Pesticides
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs)
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)
  • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

These substances are connected with serious, deadly health risks, including cancer, birth injuries, and wrongful death. Chemicals like TCE seeped into the groundwater from a dry-cleaning business beginning as early as 1953. Other chemicals may have been introduced as the result of improper storage and disposal of toxins on base.

Such exposure points toward the negligent and careless standards that were allowed to exist at Camp Lejeune, and which must be remedied today.

Did You Stay at Camp Lejeune?

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What Effects Did the Contamination Have?

Exposure to the contaminants at Camp Lejeune are connected with a whole host of medical conditions. You may be eligible for significant compensation if you or a family member developed any of these conditions after living or working at Camp Lejeune:

  • Bladder Cancer
  • Breast Cancer
  • Esophageal Cancer
  • Kidney Cancer
  • Liver Cancer
  • Lung Cancer
  • Multiple Myeloma
  • Myelodysplastic Syndrome
  • Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (NHL)
  • ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease)
  • Leukemia
  • Female Infertility
  • Miscarriage
  • Neurobehavioral Effects
  • Aplastic Anemia
  • Bone Marrow Conditions
  • Renal Toxicity
  • Hepatic Steatosis
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Scleroderma

Compensation may also be available for childhood injuries if diagnosed before age 18:

  • Birth Defects
  • Brain Defects
  • Leukemia
  • Low Birth Weight
  • Other medical conditions

Many people have lost their homes and the ability to work due to the disabilities caused by the illnesses they developed from toxic exposure. Others have also experienced the loss of a loved one due to cancer.

Pursuing a claim can provide a sense of closure, and a monetary compensation award can help families build a better life and leave a strong legacy for their communities. Our team has a proven track record of obtaining significant damages awards on behalf of our clients to improve their quality of life.

Who is Eligible for Disability Benefits in 2023 as a Result?

The Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 is a bipartisan bill intended to ensure that individuals who were harmed by water contamination at Camp Lejeune receive fair compensation.

The U.S. Senate passed the Act as part of a package of bills called the “Honoring our PACT” Act. President Biden signed the Camp Lejeune Justice Act into law on August 10, 2022. It allows people to file in U.S. federal court for pain and suffering compensation in connection with Camp Lejeune injuries.  

This new law creates a cause of action for any individual who resided, worked at, or was otherwise exposed to Camp Lejeune’s water for at least 30 days from August 1, 1953 to December 31, 1987.

Previously, those who sought legal action due to Camp Lejeune toxic water injuries had their claims inappropriately dismissed, leading to additional delays and harm. However, the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022:

  • Removes all filing barriers and red tape so veterans and their families can properly pursue compensation in court
  • Creates a streamlined approach for filing claims and disability benefits related to toxic chemical exposure with the Veterans Administration
  • Provides for recovery by individuals who were stationed, lived, or worked at Camp Lejeune, for certain actions of omissions by the United States

Our veterans, servicepeople, and their families deserve better treatment than what they received in the past. This new law will help remedy the shortcomings and hurdles they previously faced.

Other Important Points to Know

The statute of limitations (filing window) is two years after the passage of the PACT Act, or 180 days after the claim has been denied under 28 USC § 2675, whichever is later. Thus it is highly important to act immediately to pursue compensation for injuries and losses related to Camp Lejeune exposure.

Compensation will also be subject to offsets for federal benefits the individual receives for the claimed condition, such as VA or Medicare benefits for a condition caused by Camp Lejeune exposure. Contact an attorney now at (561) 293-2600 if you have any questions regarding eligibility, compensation amounts, and any other concerns. Our team is on hand to provide legal advice and guidance throughout the process.

What Is Camp Lejeune Known for?

Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune is a military training facility located in Jacksonville, North Carolina. It is well-known for being a major base for amphibious assault training, and its location near ports makes it ideal for fast deployments. It is the home base for the II Marine Expeditionary Force, 2nd Marine Division, and other combat units and support commands.

In recent years, Camp Lejeune has become synonymous with toxic water exposure cases due to the contamination issues at the site. Many people have been injured and lost loved ones due to conditions like cancer, and words like “Camp Lejeune diagnosis” have become commonly associated with the situation.

Are They Shutting Down Camp Lejeune?

At the moment there are no indications that Camp Lejeune will be shut down or closed. While certain aspects of the base have been affected due to furloughs and budget cuts, the base is still in operation.

Camp Lejeune Update - April 2023

Over 20,000 claims have been filed by members of the military, their families, and civilian contractors based on the life-threatening injuries they sustained as a result of the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, a key military base. As many as 1 million people may be eligible to file a claim, as thousands of service members, their families, and civilian contractors passed through Camp Lejeune between 1953 and 1987. 

800 of the claims that have been filed were brought to the Eastern District of North Carolina, where Camp Lejeune is located. One of the U.S. District Judges in this jurisdiction, James C. Denver III, noted that considering each Camp Lejeune claim individually would take an outrageous amount of time. He is in favor of streamlining the process, particularly for the benefit of plaintiffs who are battling severe illnesses and may not be alive long enough to wait for a drawn-out litigation process.

District Judge Denver is not the only one who supports expediting the claims process. Representatives for the plaintiffs and the defendants both argue that the large caseload and the common facts of the claims warrant them being treated as a group. The rapidly increasing number of claims pertaining to water contamination at Camp Lejeune is likely to cause additional strain on court resources unless they are consolidated under one judge or at least have coordinated pretrial proceedings.

The potential for consolidation also impacts the workload of the Department of Justice lawyers going forward. They have already requested an extension on their deadline to provide responses to the growing number of Camp Lejeune Justice Act claims. In their motion, they noted that they are anticipating the pretrial process will be coordinated based on the volume of existing claims and the number of claims that are anticipated. 

The motion of extension filed by the government’s lawyers was approved, and the new deadline for them to answer individual plaintiffs is now May 31st, 2023. The approval of the government’s motion indicates an acknowledgment that the courts are willing to consolidate the pretrial process for the Camp Lejeune lawsuits. The government’s efforts to streamline the process is in line with the preferences of the personal injury lawyers representing Camp Lejeune clients. 

They have filed their own motion to condense the claims to be overseen by one judge, with input on coordinating the pretrial process from the four judges in the Eastern District of North Carolina. Claims will likely be divided into those that the government is willing to accept liability for and settle with limited objection, and claims that the government is likely to contest or negotiate down.

The government is poised to take responsibility for the damages of military members and their families who were affected by the contaminated water, as Congress specifically created a path for them to circumvent the existing statute of limitations. That being said, plaintiffs will still have the responsibility of proving that they meet the qualifications for filing a Camp Lejeune Justice Act claim, they have damages related to their injuries, and that their damages are worth the compensation they are asking for.

Meanwhile, the Department of Veterans Affairs has been facilitating toxic exposure screenings for those who believe they may have been exposed to toxic chemicals while working or living at Camp Lejeune. This will be a helpful source of evidence to establish that a claimant was exposed and their level of exposure is reflective of their injuries.

Contact a Lawyer Regarding Your Camp Lejeune Claim

The toxic contaminants present at Camp Lejeune have led to tragic injuries, damaging medical conditions, and loss of life. We want to ensure that those affected receive the compensation due to them, so they can have closure and move on toward an improved quality of life.

At Osborne & Francis, we have the resources of a large firm, combined with personal attention and caring touch. Those serving our country and working at government installations like Camp Lejeune deserve better treatment. Contact us at (561) 293-2600 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation before your chance at filing expires. We are on hand to review your background and records to help you and your family obtain justice.

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