Camp Lejeune is a United States Marine Corps base located in Jacksonville, North Carolina. From 1953 to 1987, the camp’s drinking water was contaminated with toxic chemical compounds such as trichloroethylene (TCE), benzene, perchloroethylene (PCE), vinyl chloride, and others.
Estimates place the number of people affected by the water contamination at Camp Lejeune at more than one million people over the course of more than 30 years. This includes members of the military and civilian employees on the base, as well as their families (including children and babies in utero).
For years, the federal government denied responsibility for the high rate of serious illnesses experienced by people who lived and worked at Camp Lejeune from the 1950s to the 1980s. The effects of the toxic exposure are still felt to this day, with veterans and former residents and employees at Camp Lejeune being diagnosed with cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and other diseases decades after the fact.
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act has passed the U.S. Senate and President Biden’s has signed it into law. This legislation will circumvent unacceptable legal loopholes in North Carolina law and provide individuals and families affected by the Camp Lejeune water contamination with the long-overdue ability to seek justice for their damages.
Scott Vicknair Law Firm and its attorneys are closely monitoring federal legislation that will enable those impacted by water contamination at Camp Lejeune to pursue compensation. If you previously lived or worked at Camp Lejeune and were later diagnosed with an illness linked to toxic exposure at the base, please call 504-500-1111 for a free case review.
What Illnesses Are Associated with Camp Lejeune Water Contamination?
The toxic chemicals that contaminated the water at Camp Lejeune have been linked to a number of serious health concerns. Multiple types of cancer are associated with these toxic chemicals, including:
- Kidney cancer
- Bladder cancer
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (a cancer of the lymphatic system)
- Liver cancer
- Multiple myeloma (cancer of the body’s plasma cells)
- Lung cancer
- Thyroid cancer
- Leukemia (cancer of the blood)
- Brain cancer
- Esophageal cancer
Although cancer is a major concern among those who suffered toxic exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, there are other injuries that have been linked to the toxic chemicals found in the water at the base. Other potential health concerns linked to Camp Lejeune’s water contamination issues include:
- Parkinson’s disease
- Nephrotoxicity (damage to the kidneys)
- Neurobehavioral disorders
- Aplastic anemia (a condition where the bone marrow stops producing enough blood cells)
- Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) (abnormalities in the body’s blood cell production)
- Hepatic steatosis (fatty liver syndrome)
- Cardiac defects
Fertility issues and miscarriages have also been linked to water contamination at Camp Lejeune. In-utero exposure to contaminated water has led to a wide range of birth defects and high rates of childhood cancer. Tragically, many children died very young due to the toxic effects of the chemicals found in the water at Camp Lejeune.
The Challenging Legal History of Camp Lejeune Water Contamination
There have not been many legal options available to those who suffered injuries due to water contamination exposure at Camp Lejeune. In 2008, the VA established a “presumptive service connection” for veterans stationed at Camp Lejeune between 1953 and 1987. The VA only recognizes a presumptive service connection for eight conditions (Parkinson’s disease; non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma; MDS; adult leukemia; multiple myeloma; and cancers of the bladder, liver, and kidneys). Veterans suffering from other health complaints that may be linked to their service at Camp Lejeune are required to submit additional medical evidence.
In 2012, the Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act created a mechanism for veterans and their families to receive care through the VA for select health issues associated with Camp Lejeune’s water contamination. Coverage of medical expenses was limited to certain “qualifying health conditions.”
North Carolina law additionally made it impossible for many victims of water contamination at Camp Lejeune to bring civil actions for diseases connected to toxic exposure on the base. North Carolina law only gave plaintiffs up to 10 years to bring claims for diseases and other “latent injuries.”
Although amended by the state legislature, the statute of repose does not apply retroactively. Considering the toxic exposure at Camp Lejeune began in the 1950s and ended in the 1980s, most claims related to the water contamination have been barred by the courts in North Carolina.
What Are My Legal Rights for Camp Lejeune Water Contamination?
Federal legislators in both the Democratic and Republican parties have begun to recognize the injustice done to the individuals and families affected by toxic exposure due to water contamination at Camp Lejeune. With the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, they are finally set to act.
Receiving bipartisan support, the Camp Lejeune Justice Act was passed in the House of Representatives in March 2022. In June 2022, U.S. Senate voted to pass the bill as part of the Honoring our PACT Act of 2022. All that remains is for the amended bill to be passed in the House (where it previously received significant support) and signed into law by President Biden.
Once the Camp Lejeune Justice Act is enacted, veterans and others who were exposed to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune will be able to bring claims for personal injury and wrongful death caused by toxic exposure. Claimants must show that they were exposed to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune for a minimum of 30 days between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987, and that they and/or a member of their family suffered harm as a result.
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act preempts the North Carolina statute of repose. The new law will enable Marine Corps veterans, former civilian employees at Camp Lejeune, and the families who resided at the base to finally have an opportunity to pursue the compensation they deserve.
Claims must be brought in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina. To satisfy the burden of proof, the claimant must produce evidence that is “sufficient to conclude that a causal relationship exists” or “sufficient to conclude that a causal relationship is at least as likely as not” between the Camp Lejeune water contamination and the harm sustained.
Damages for Water Contamination Illnesses Linked to Camp Lejeune
It is important to account for all of the damages you and/or the members of your family have suffered as a result of exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune. You may be entitled to compensation for:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of society and companionship
It is important to note that individuals who were previously granted health and disability benefits (i.e., VA benefits) for health conditions related to Camp Lejeune water contamination will have their compensation reduced in proportion to any prior award or payments.
Contact a Louisiana Toxic Exposure Lawyer Today
Scott Vicknair is working to seek compensation for the damages inflicted upon servicemembers, civilian employees, and their families at Camp Lejeune. The health of multiple generations has been adversely affected by water contamination, and we intend to advocate fiercely for the rights of veterans, civilians, and their loved ones under the rights established by the Camp Lejeune Justice Act.
If you were exposed to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune between the years 1953 to 1987 and you or a member of your family was diagnosed with cancer or another serious medical condition, the Scott Vicknair Law Firm can help. Actions under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act must be filed in federal district court, and it is essential to work with experienced attorneys who are well-versed in the complex rules and procedures that will apply to your claim.
For a free case review, call the lawyers at Scott Vicknair today at 504-500-1111. Our lawyers serve clients throughout the country in seeking compensation for damages related to toxic exposure at Camp Lejeune.