Sometimes institutions engage in activities that hurt our armed forces and civilians. And sometimes, we learn about those harms far too late. Such is the case with water contamination at Camp LeJeune in North Carolina from the 1950s to the late 1980s. Fortunately, the U.S. government has enacted legislation that allows individuals hurt by Camp LeJeune’s poisonous water to recover damages for their injuries. At Gerling Law, we get results and have the experience to win what you deserve after suffering personal injury losses.
A Brief History of Camp LeJeune and Water Contamination
In 1942, the government established Camp LeJeune as a Marine training base in North Carolina. The base and surrounding areas have provided a home to those on active duty, retirees, and civilians.
In 1982, the military discovered that some Camp LeJeune water treatment plants provided drinking water containing volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Contaminated water came from the Tarawa Terrace treatment plant, the Hadnot Point treatment plant, and the Holcomb Boulevard treatment plant. The contaminating VOCs were:
- Perchloroethylene/tetrachloroethylene (PCE),
- Trichloroethylene (TCE),
- T-1,2-dichloroethylene (trans-1,2-DCE), and
- Vinyl chloride.
The causes of these contamination events included dry cleaning, underground storage tanks, industrial spills, and waste disposal.
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) performed data analysis and estimated that PCE contamination from Tarawa Terrace exceeded EPA limits between November 1957 and February 1987. And the ATSDR estimated that other VOC contamination occurred between August 1953 and January 1985.
The Effects of Camp LeJeune Water Contamination
Exposure to the named contaminants in Camp LeJeune water could have had devastating effects on many, including babies in utero. If you were exposed to the water from Camp LeJeune between the 1950s and 1980s and have suffered from at least one of the following issues, you might have been harmed by the water:
- Kidney cancer,
- Non-Hodgkin lymphoma,
- Cardiac defects,
- Bladder cancer,
- Liver cancer,
- Multiple myeloma,
- End-stage renal disease,
- Parkinson disease,
- Choanal atresia (bone or tissue blockage in the nose),
- Eye defects,
- Low birth weight,
- Fetal death,
- Major malformations,
- Neural tube defects,
- Oral cleft defects,
- Smallness for gestational age,
- Breast cancer,
- Cervical cancer,
- Esophageal cancer,
- Lung cancer,
- Hodgkin’s disease,
- Ovarian cancer,
- Rectal cancer,
- Impaired immune system function,
- Neurological defects,
- Neurobehavioral performance deficits,
- Severe, generalized hypersensitivity skin disorder,
- Aplastic anemia,
- Myelodysplastic syndrome,
- Brain cancer,
- Soft tissue cancer, or
- Liver cirrhosis.
If you are unsure if Camp LeJeune water is the reason for your illness, speak to an attorney right away. An experienced attorney can help you get the proper medical evaluations and fight to win your case.
Filing a Camp LeJeune Lawsuit
You can file a lawsuit to recover your damages when you suffer harm because of someone else’s negligence or bad actions. Normally, you cannot file a tort lawsuit against the U.S. government unless you send the government a written notice within two years of the date of injury. You also have to get around federal government immunity laws to be able to sue.
These rules quickly become problems for people suffering injuries from 30-year-old (or older) exposures to Camp LeJeune waters. But don’t worry about these hurdles because the new federal law has removed them for many Camp LeJeune claimants.
A newly enacted law makes suing the federal government for exposure to the Camp LeJeune waters easier. The law also disallows the federal government from claiming immunity in a civil suit. We are ready to fight for you if you have a qualifying Camp LeJeune claim.
The Camp LeJeune Justice Act of 2022
The Camp LeJeune Justice Act of 2022 (Camp LeJeune Act) is part of the PACT Act of 2022. The Camp LeJeune Act allows individuals to sue the federal government if they suffered injury after exposure to the contaminated water for at least 30 days between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987. Harms from in-utero exposure are also actionable, and representatives of the injured can file suit as well. However, you cannot sue if you were exposed to harm during combatant activities.
What you have to show to file suit
To initiate legal action under the Camp LeJeune Act, you have to show that:
- You were exposed to Camp LeJeune’s water for at least 30 days between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987; and
- You suffered from a condition associated with the contaminated water.
Bring all your medical, residence history, travel history, and employment records to your attorney so they can make the strongest argument for your right to recover damages. You might also have the option of filing a Camp LeJeune mass tort lawsuit, which would join your case with others suffering the same harm from the same exposure. A mass tort lawsuit can help you find strength in a group effort by pooling resources and saving time throughout the litigation process.
What you can recover
In a Camp LeJeune Act lawsuit, you can recover civil damages to compensate you for medical care and other losses. However, you cannot recover punitive damages. Also, your compensation can be offset by any health or disability benefits you already receive from the government.
Where you can file suit
You must file your lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina. This court has exclusive jurisdiction over lawsuits regarding Camp LeJeune water exposures between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987. You must also file a claim with the government agency you are suing and receive a denial before filing your lawsuit.
Your time limit for initiating a lawsuit
The Camp LeJeune Act allows victims of exposure between 1953 and 1987 to file a civil suit as long as they do so within two years of the Act’s enactment, or 180 days of a claim denial from the government. Remember that the PACT Act, which contains the Camp LeJeune Act, was enacted on August 10, 2022. We can handle your case and maximize your recovery in your complaint.
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