Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawsuit
Camp Lejeune is a United States Marine Corps base in Jacksonville, North Carolina. From the 1950s to the 1980s, the base was contaminated with cancer-causing chemicals, leading to thousands of leukemia cases and other cancers in military personnel, civilians and their families who lived or worked there.
Victims of this water contamination have only recently started receiving recognition and compensation for their illness, but many are still fighting for justice. Boling Law Firm is here to help.
Were you or a loved one ever stationed at Camp Lejeune? Knowing if you were exposed to these dangerous chemicals is crucial to taking steps to protect your future health. The Camp Lejeune attorneys at Boling Law Firm are legal advocates for current and past service members and their families working and living at Camp Lejeune.
Call our Camp Lejeune Lawyers at 1 (800) 799-7914 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form today for immediate legal advice and schedule a free consultation related to a Camp Lejuene water contamination lawsuit. All confidential or sensitive information you share with your Camp Lejeune lawyer remains private through an attorney-client relationship.
Current Update on Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawsuit
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act (CLJA) was passed by a solid majority in the House of Representatives in 2021. The federal law provided victims of Camp Lejeune a right to sue.
Based on the Act, victims may get disability benefits, depending on the level of contaminant exposure and its effects. Other health care benefits would include treatment and cancer care.
The law was later introduced in the Senate. As it is getting immense support from Republicans and Democratic lawmakers, the bill will likely be passed in the Senate and signed into law.
Honoring Our Pact Act
In June 2022, the United States Senate slightly amended and passed the Honoring Our Pact Act that included the full version of CLJA (Camp Lejeune Justice Act 2022) and 84-13, sending the revised bill to the House of Representatives.
The final passage of the Honoring Our Pact Act stalled with a blue slip objection due to the validity of the amendment in the Senate that added a tax provision. The blue slip objection was based on the law that only the House of Representatives can authorize taxes.
The House Passes PACT Act
On June 12, 2022, the United States House of Representatives passed the Honoring Our Pact Act with a 342-88 vote. The amended bill now has back to the Senate for review.
When finally passed, it will allow Camp Lejeune water contamination victims to sue the United States government for damage. Thousands of Camp Lejeune lawsuits are expected to be filed in the months and years ahead.
The enactment of the PACT Act will provide Camp Lejeune settlement benefits made available to over 1 million United States Marines and their spouses and families exposed to contaminants while they lived on the military base or nearby between 1953 in 1987.
US Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune
Camp Lejeune in North Carolina was the home of a US Marine base for more than thirty years, and the water on the base has been making people sick for nearly as long. In 1982, contaminants were discovered in the Camp Lejeune water supply, including trichloroethylene (TCE), tetrachloroethylene (PCE), vinyl chloride (VC) and benzene, which is known to cause cancer, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, adult leukemia, aplastic anemia, and other myelodysplastic syndromes.
Many former Camp Lejeune residents believe their health problems are due to this water contamination, and they're now suing the US government for damages. This realization is disturbing and raises many questions about our military and its responsibility to protect the health of its members and their families.
It's also a reminder of how crucial it is to be vigilant about our safe drinking water.
The Life-Threatening Water Contamination Problem Affecting Camp LeJeune Residents
Right now, there are approximately 750,000 people who are potentially affected by the water contamination at Camp Lejeune. Between 1953 and 1987, toxins were released into the groundwater from a fuel depot on the base.
The toxic water contamination at Camp Lejeune has led to numerous illnesses in those exposed, including cancer. If you or someone you know is a victim of this contamination, you must know your legal options.
A 2007 Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Report
In the summer of 2007, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) released a report indicating that as many as 950,000 people may have been exposed to carcinogens in the water supply at Camp Lejeune from 1953 to 1987.
Testing found the Camp Lejeune well water has volatile organic compounds, including trichloroethylene (TCE) and benzene. The contamination led to numerous illnesses among veterans and their families living on the military base.
Unfortunately, even today, many people are still suffering from the effects of this water contamination.
The Federal Government Responding to the Contaminated Camp Lejeune Water Supply Problem
For years, victims of the contamination have battled the federal government and Marine Corps for recognition and compensation. In 2012, President Obama signed legislation providing $2 billion in medical care and health benefits to those affected, but more needs to be done.
Military and National Guard victims and their families continue to suffer from illness and economic hardship, and they deserve fair treatment.
North Carolina Statute of Repose
A North Carolina statute (NCGS § 1-52(16)) has led to many claims being dismissed not for merit but because of the rule of repose, precluding Camp Lejeune victims from filing a civil suit.
This statute has affected many active military personnel, military veterans, National Guard members, and families exposed to the toxic water at the military base. Fortunately, federal laws will likely be enacted soon, circumventing the statute of repose.
This newly enacted law would allow those most harmed to file claims in federal court even if they were potentially exposed in utero (in the womb) to the highly carcinogenic chemicals found in the heavily contaminated water at Camp Lejeune at any time between August 1953 and December 1987.
By the mid-1980s, the military base closed many toxic water wells after determining that the contamination was higher than the EPA's maximum safe level of PCE (5 ug/L) in drinking water. Early testing revealed a contaminated water supply at Camp Lejeune registered 215 ug/L.
Investigations also showed a toxic exposure to individuals working and visiting an off-base dry cleaner years after the Marine Corps knew, or should have known, of the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune and the surrounding area.
Camp Lejeune Justice Act
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act (CLJA) is a federal bill that was introduced in the US Senate in March of 2017. The bill covering Camp Lejeune and the Marine Corps Air Station would provide further health care and economic benefits to those affected by the contaminated water.
The federal law would also establish a commission to investigate the contamination's extent and its health effects on those exposed. The bill that has yet to be passed has bipartisan support and is currently making its way through the legislative process.
Many in Congress hope the Camp Lejeune Justice Act will finally provide the justice and disability compensation that victims and their families deserve.
The Backstory of the Camp Lejeune Justice Act
Camp Lejeune, North Carolina's water was contaminated with toxic substances for over 30 years, from 1953 to 1987. During this time, millions of soldiers stationed at the base and their families were exposed to contaminated well water.
The Camp Lejeune and Hadnot Point water wells were contaminated with toxic chemicals, including benzene and trichloroethylene (TCE). These chemicals cause dire health effects, such as bladder cancer and liver diseases.
Today, there's sufficient scientific evidence to prove that Camp Lejeune water contamination resulted in adverse health effects in individuals exposed to the dangerous water, leading to the Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuit.
The new law would allow people stationed at the military base to receive financial compensation through a fund set up by Congress. However, many cases have already been filed seeking a monetary recovery through various available funds.
Federal Tort Claims
The Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) is a federal law that allows people to file lawsuits against the federal government to seek compensation and disability benefits for damages. The Act will enable people to sue the government for injuries or losses resulting from a federal employee's negligence.
The Camp Lejeune well water contamination is a perfect example of an incident that could fall under the FTCA. The act is a discretionary function protecting the United States government from any legal claim identifying established negligence as the cause.
Some defense lawyers representing the federal government have claimed that no one ever instructed base management to turn off the contaminated water supply. Because of that, the lawyers claim that no clear evidence of negligence has been presented.
However, Camp Lejeune lawyers for thousands of plaintiffs disagree with that argument, stating that no one took action even though they knew the contaminated water was likely hurting people.
Contaminated Water Identified at Camp Lejeune
Camp Lejeune is a nearly 250-square-mile area in Onslow County, North Carolina. The federal government first opened the military base in 1942 as a training facility and military operations Center for the US Marine Corps and other branches of the armed forces.
For approximately eight decades, the military base served as a permanent or temporary residence for hundreds of thousands of retired and active duty military men, women, and family members. Thousands of outside contractors and civilian employees lived and worked on the base.
Since the base was first opened, it has operated a water system supplying potable water to military service members and civilians.
The first environmental testing occurred the first few years after the military base was opened and found that the water supply was filled with highly toxic chemicals and organic compounds.
Medical and scientific evidence correlates contaminated drinking water to childhood cancers, bladder cancer, multiple myeloma, liver cancer, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, birth defects, and other severe health conditions.
Tetrachloroethylene (PCE) and Trichloroethylene (TCE)
The first medical and scientific evidence identified a disturbing realization that many living and working at the military base had been bathing in and consuming drinking water contaminated by highly toxic tetrachloroethylene and trichloroethylene known to have carcinogenic effects on the human body.
Reports are unclear whether the United States government knew of the toxic properties in the Camp Lejeune well water system. However, with numerous accounts, it is hard to imagine government officials did not know.
What Group of People Are Most Affected by Camp Lejeune Water Contamination?
The people most affected by the Camp Lejeune well water contamination are the veterans and their family members who lived on the base at that time. Others likely harmed by exposure to toxins include contractors and others working in the area providing services on the Marine base.
Severe Health Problems
Common severe health conditions caused by contaminated water in adults and children include:
- Adult leukemia
- Liver cancer
- Bladder cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Parkinson's Disease
- Birth defects
- Multiple myeloma
- Hepatic steatosis
- Lou Gehrig's Disease (ALS)
- Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
- Neurobehavioral effects
- Plastic anemia and other bone marrow conditions
- Aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes
Available Health Care Benefits, including VA Benefits
Any veteran who served at the Military Corps Air Station New River or Camp Lejeune for at least 30 cumulative days between August 1953 in December 1987 or any family member is eligible to receive healthcare benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
Retired veterans and those on active duty might be eligible for disability compensation after the Obama administration agreed to make over $2 billion in disability benefits available to those harmed by Camp Lejeune well water.
Camp Lejeune Well Water Contamination Settlements
The VA has agreed to pay out over $2 billion in disability benefits to veterans and their families harmed by the water contamination at the base. This decision came after the Obama administration agreed to make the benefits available.
$100,000 Camp Lejeune Lawsuit for Toxic Exposure to Contaminated Drinking Water
In 2022, a service member harmed by the contaminated Camp Lejeune well water problems received $100,000 in benefits from the VA. In this case, the victim was a Marine veteran diagnosed with kidney cancer after exposure to contaminated water while serving at the military base.
This claim is one of the first Camp Lejeune lawsuits to be settled under the VA's new disability compensation program for service members harmed by the contaminated water.
$350 Million Fund for Contaminated Drinking Water
The Department of Veterans Affairs has also set up a $350 million fund to provide healthcare benefits to veterans and their families affected by the contaminated water.
The fund will pay for medical treatment, medication, and other health services for those affected by the contaminated water.
In addition to the $2 billion in disability benefits and the $350 million fund for healthcare, the Department of Veterans Affairs has also agreed to pay out $75 million in benefits to families of service members who died from contaminated water.
$1.1 Million Award for Disability Benefits
In 2021, a veteran who had worked at Camp Lejeune in the 1980s and had been diagnosed with bladder cancer was awarded $1.1 million in benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
This case is one of the first Camp Lejeune lawsuits to be settled under the new disability compensation program for service members harmed by the contaminated water at the base. The veteran had worked at the base for six years and had been exposed to contaminated well water while working on the base.
These Camp Lejeune toxic water lawsuit cash payouts constitute a significant victory for the veterans and their families. They have been fighting for years to get justice and compensation for the harm caused by the contaminated well water.
The Camp Lejeune settlement payouts are an excellent first step. However, there is still more work to be done to ensure that all those affected by the water contamination at Camp Lejeune receive the justice and compensation they deserve.
Are you or a loved one affected by contaminated water at Camp Lejeune? Contact an experienced attorney who can help you understand your rights and options.
The Government Was Aware of the Water Problem at Camp LeJeune
The federal government was already aware of the toxic substances in the water. However, there were no preventive or even awareness measures until the 1980s. As a result, people consumed and bathed in toxic water contamination for years.
Most people on active duty exposed to the contaminated Camp Lejeune military base drinking water supply developed various adverse health effects, including cancers and other diseases.
The United States government has acknowledged the link between exposure to the water contamination at Camp Lejeune and certain adverse health conditions. As a result, veterans and their families affected by the contamination may be eligible for disability VA benefits and healthcare through the Veterans Affairs (VA).
Besides the veterans stationed at the military base, their family members and other workers in the area were also exposed to the water of Camp Lejeune.
Previous Compensation Claims Regarding Camp Lejeune Water Contamination
Until now, veterans and their family members could not sue the state for Camp Lejeune contamination since North Carolina has a statute of limitations of 10 years. Due to this, Supreme Court decided in 2014 that victims can't sue the state since the state statute has expired, even though they only learned about the Camp Lejeune pollution after a decade.
However, the Camp Lejeune Justice Act is expected to waive the statute of limitations and allow Camp Lejeune contaminated water victims to sue for damages, regardless of when they learned about their exposure.
Chronology of the Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawsuit
Camp Lejeune became a Marine Corps base in 1941. The Tarawa Terrace treatment plant was built for water supply in 1951. Within a few years, water inspectors knew there were contamination issues at Camp Lejeune.
In 1979, nearly 30,000 gallons of oil leaked into the ground from Hadnot Point Fuel Farm due to a leak in the underground storage tanks. It created an underground oil plume that reached the Tarawa Terrace well field.
The fuel leak not only contaminated the Camp Lejeune groundwater but also increased the level of toxic benzene in the water at Camp Lejeune. Benzene is a known carcinogen, and exposure to it can cause leukemia.
In 1984, an external contractor found benzene, PCE, TCE, and other toxic chemicals in the Hadnot Point Water Well. By 1985, all Hadnot Point wells were shut down.
The designation of Camp Lejeune as a Superfund site triggered a comprehensive investigation of contaminated well water at the base. In 1990, the CDC declared that PCP is the most prominent cause of birth defects, death, and injury in water contamination victims.
When Did the Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawsuit Begin?
In 2016, Marine Corps veterans and their families filed 800 Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuits per the Federal Tort Claims Act. The Federal Tort Claims Act allows individuals to sue the government for personal injuries or death caused by the negligence of a federal employee.
The Camp Lejeune lawsuits were consolidated into one multidistrict litigation (MDL class action toxic water lawsuit) in federal court as per state law. The MDL is still ongoing, and no trial date has been set for the first Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuits.
Even by 2018, no victims had any legal recourse to the Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuits. However, by 2021, the Camp Lejeune Justice Act entered the House of Representatives. In 2022, the Camp Lejeune Justice Act was added to a collective bill named the Honoring Our Pact Act 2021.
The Honoring Our Pact Act provides financial relief and healthcare benefits to families of veterans exposed to Camp Lejeune water contamination.
What Contaminants Were in the Water at Camp Lejeune?
The National Research Council (NRC) assessed Camp Lejeune water and determined it contained several toxic chemicals. Two water wells on the base were closed in 1985 due to unacceptable levels of
- Trichloroethylene (TCE)
- Perchloroethylene (PCE)
- Vinyl chloride
- Other compounds
Unfortunately, based on scientific and medical evidence, most were dangerous to human health.
These dangerous chemicals cause serious health problems in exposed individuals, including cancers (liver and bladder cancer), miscarriages, and birth defects.
The most notable contaminants in Camp Lejeune water were:
Vinyl chloride is a chemical compound used primarily in producing polyvinyl chloride (PVC). It is a colorless gas at room temperature and has a sweet, chloroform-like odor.
VCM is among the top twenty largest industrial chemicals produced in the world. It makes PVC for construction, electronics, and various other industries.
It is a highly reactive chemical and must be stored and transported in pressurized containers to avoid decomposition into hydrogen chloride and carbon monoxide.
VCM is a known carcinogen linked to liver cancer and leukemia. It is also a skin irritant and can cause liver and kidney damage. In addition, long-term exposure to PVC can result in polyvinyl chloride poisoning, which manifests as dizziness, headaches, and easy bruising.
PVC production creates dioxins as by-products, highly toxic chemicals that can accumulate in the food chain, leading to intestinal and bladder cancer. Dioxins are known to cause cancer, reproductive and developmental problems, immune system damage, and hormone disruption.
The production of PVC also creates significant air pollution, as the process releases VCM into the atmosphere. Wastewater from PVC production can also contaminate ground and surface water with VOCs and other toxic substances.
Despite the many dangers associated with vinyl chloride, found in abundance in water at the military base, it is still used extensively in the industry due to its low cost and versatility. It is implicated in many recent Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuits.
Another chemical found in Camp Lejeune, Trichloroethylene (TCE), is a colorless, volatile liquid with a sweet, chloroform-like odor. It is used as a degreaser and cleaning solvent and is also found in adhesives, paints, varnishes, and lacquers.
The EPA classified TCE as a human carcinogen, primarily causing non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is a type of cancer affecting the lymphatic system, a network of vessels and nodes that transports fluids and cells throughout the body.
Exposure to TCE can also cause neurological damage and liver damage.
TCE in Groundwater
TCE is a known groundwater contaminant found in drinking water wells and waste disposal sites near Superfund sites, such as water wells at the base and other hazardous waste sites. In the last few years, victims of TCE exposure have filed many water Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuits.
It can also enter the air from contaminated soil or water and has been found in the atmosphere of indoor spaces, such as office buildings and homes.
While TCE is no longer manufactured in the United States, it is still used extensively in other countries. When contaminated products degrade or are disposed of improperly, TCE can be released into the environment.
The EPA set the maximum safe TCE level in potable water at 5 ppb. However, the contaminated well water at Hadnot point treatment plant and Camp Lejeune had 1,400 ppb of TCE.
Methylene chloride is a chemical solvent that removes paint vinyl chloride. It is also used in making plastic products.
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry reports drinking water at Camp Lejeune had concentrations of methylene chloride.
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry revealed that people who used that water for any purpose were exposed to this chemical.
Benzene is a cyclic hydrocarbon. It is a colorless and flammable liquid with a sweet smell. Benzene is produced naturally by volcanoes and forest fires, but most benzene comes from refining crude oil.
Benzene is used as a solvent in producing plastics, resins, synthetic fibers, rubber, detergents, pesticides, and other chemicals. It is also used as a fuel additive and a gasoline component.
The EPA has classified benzene as a human carcinogen, and it has been linked to leukemia. Short-term exposure to benzene can cause dizziness, headache, confusion, unconsciousness, and even death. Medical evidence shows that long-term exposure to volatile organic compounds (like benzene) or consuming contaminated drinking water can cause anemia, bone marrow damage, and leukemia.
Benzene is also released from cigarette smoke, car exhaust, and industrial emissions. It can also enter the air from the evaporation of gasoline and other fuels.
Like many other volatile organic compounds, you can measure benzene in breath, blood, and urine. It is one of the many toxic chemicals found in the water of Camp Lejeune.
Perchloroethylene (PCE) is a halocarbon. It is a colorless, volatile liquid with a chloroform-like odor. It removes dirt and stains from clothing and textile fabric like a common dry cleaning solvent.
The PCE in Camp Lejeune water came from the One Hour Dry Cleaner, which started its operation near the Marine Corps base camp in 1953.
In industry, PCE is used as a heat transfer medium, degreaser, and cleaning agent for metal parts and electronic components.
It is one of the most prevalent toxic chemicals in dry cleaning and has been linked to cancer, liver damage, and neurological effects.
IARC and EPA Identify the Probable Carcinogen
PCE is classified as a potential human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). In addition, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has classified PCE as a Group B2 probable human carcinogen.
PCE is commonly present in contaminated well water. Exposure to PCE can occur through inhalation, ingestion, or skin contact.
The damage by PCE is so alarming that if exposed, it is essential to seek medical attention immediately. A Camp Lejeune water lawsuit is primarily based on the exposure to PCE and TCE, although some victims were also exposed to other toxic chemicals, as discussed above.
Diseases Caused by Camp Lejeune Water Contamination
The industrial chemicals contaminating the Marine Corps base camp in Camp Lejeune caused various diseases in the Marines and their families.
The most common diseases linked to contaminated well water are liver cancer, liver damage, reproductive problems, and congenital disabilities.
Most chemicals in the contaminated well water at Camp Lejeune are known to cause various types of cancer. Other types of cancers in victims are:
- Breast Cancer
- Kidney Cancer
- Multiple Myeloma attacks the plasma cells in the bone marrow. Victims suffering from this disease often have a tough time fighting off infections.
- Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma: Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell.
Water from contaminated water treatment plants at Camp Lejeune can also cause liver damage. It can lead to a variety of problems, including:
- Jaundice: Jaundice is a condition in which the skin and whites of the eyes become yellow. The yellowing is due to a build-up of bilirubin in the blood.
- Hepatitis: Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver that can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or other factors.
- Cirrhosis: Cirrhosis occurs when the liver is damaged and scarred. It can build up toxins in the blood, which can be fatal.
The contamination at Camp Lejeune has also been linked to reproductive problems in men and women. These problems include:
- Infertility: Some Camp Lejeune victims have been unable to conceive children due to the water contamination.
- Miscarriages: Some Camp Lejeune women exposed to the contaminated water have had miscarriages.
The CDC published a report in 2013 in which they revealed that children born to women who lived on Camp Lejeune or consumed the water from the water well had higher birth defects than average.
The contamination has also been linked to birth defects in veterans' children. These defects include:
- Cleft Lip: A cleft lip is a birth defect in which the lips are not correctly formed. Likewise, a cleft palate is a birth defect in which the roof of the mouth is not formed correctly.
- Heart Defects: Children born to parents exposed to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune have an increased risk of developing heart defects.
The illnesses mentioned above are just a few of the many diseases and health problems linked to the water contamination at the base. Have you or a family member been diagnosed with any of these conditions? You may be eligible for benefits and compensation from the veterans' administration.
Victims of Camp Lejeune May Seek Compensation
Our Camp Lejeune lawyers have helped numerous victims seek compensation and obtain the health care benefits they deserve, including:
- Healthcare Benefits: Camp Lejeune's water supply was contaminated with cancer-causing chemicals. The new law would enable these victims to get healthcare benefits from the government.
- Financial Compensation: Many victims are facing mounting medical bills.
- Disability Compensation: Disability compensation means the government will provide financial assistance to victims who can no longer work because of their injuries. Victims of the Camp Lejeune water supply could receive disability health benefits.
How to file a Claim
You will need to submit your claim in federal court, present medical proof of your injuries, and demonstrate how the need for medical attention is connected to your exposure to the toxic chemicals in the water.
The amount of time you have to bring a lawsuit has been restricted by the federal government. If you had health issues after drinking polluted water at Camp Lejeune, don't wait any longer to contact an experienced attorney that can help you file a claim against the United States government.
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 only gives you a two-year window to get your claim filed, so it's important to understand your legal options and start a claim before it's too late.
Time is Limited for Your Claim, so Act Today
If you, a family member, or a loved one resided at Camp Lejeune and experienced health issues as a result of water pollution, you could be qualified to file a Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawsuit. To find out how filing a Camp Lejeune Water Contamination claim might benefit you or your loved ones, please submit the form below to get started or call us at 1-800-799-7914: