Have you or your loved ones ever been to Camp Lejeune? Camp Lejeune is a Marine Corps base and home to military retirees and civilians in North Carolina. If you were at Camp Lejeune (even if you were in utero) between August 1953 and December 1987 and you have experienced health complications since, you might have a new right to legal damages from the government.
Camp Lejeune opened in the 1940s. Many of its former residents and visitors suffered exposure to contaminated water. If you have a question about your previous exposure to waters at this base, our experienced attorneys at Gerash Steiner Blanton, P.C., can help you understand your rights and recover what you deserve. Contact us today.
Contaminated Water at Camp Lejeune
The water people use to drink, bathe, and swim should be safe. Regrettably, the water at Camp Lejeune did not keep up with this standard from the 1950s to the 1980s.
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) reports that the Marine Corps discovered volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the Camp Lejeune water in 1982. This water contaminated with toxic chemicals came from three different water distribution plants that provided the resource to the area’s homes and facilities. The ATSDR states that the three plants that distributed contaminated water were:
- Hadnot Point – This plant started operation in 1942 and shut down the most contaminated wells by February 1985.
- Tarawa Terrace – This plant began operation in 1952 and shut down in March 1987.
- Holcomb Boulevard – This plant started operation in June 1972 and used contaminated Hadnot Point water to supplement its drinking-water supply during the springs and summers between 1972 and 1985.
The chemicals found in these waters have presumed links to many devastating health conditions.
The waters at Camp Lejeune contained several contaminants. Many of those contaminants were estimated to exceed the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) maximum contaminant levels. Among the detected contaminants at Camp Lejeune were:
- Tetrachloroethylene/perchloroethylene (PCE),
- Trans-1,2-dichloroethylene (DCE),
- Trichloroethylene (TCE), and
- Vinyl chloride.
PCE and TCE were the primary contaminants detected at Tarawa Terrace and Hadnot Point, respectively.
The Health Effects
The compounds detected in Camp Lejeune’s contaminated water could be the cause of several serious health issues. Among the ailments that could be the results of exposure to contaminated Water at Camp Lejeune are:
- Kidney cancer,
- Non-Hodgkin lymphoma,
- Cardiac defects,
- Bladder cancer,
- Leukemia (many forms),
- Liver cancer,
- Multiple myeloma,
- End-stage renal disease,
- Parkinson disease,
- Choanal atresia (a bone or tissue blockage of the nasal passages),
- 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,
- Prostate cancer,
- Rectal cancer,
- Impaired immune system function,
- Neurological issues,
- Neurobehavioral performance deficits,
- Severe generalized hypersensitivity skin disorder,
- Aplastic anemia,
- Myelodysplastic syndromes,
- Brain cancer,
- Soft tissue cancer, and
- Liver cirrhosis.
The list of medical harms Camp Lejeune’s waters possibly caused is long, and the government has passed legislation to help compensate the victims.
Your Rights Under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022
On August 10, 2022, President Biden signed the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act (PACT Act) into law. Section 804 of the PACT Act is the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 (Camp Lejeune Act). The Camp Lejeune Act allows victims who suffered from health issues caused by decades-old exposure to the base’s waters to sue for damages.
The enactment of this law is a huge development. Before the enactment of the Camp Lejeune Act, new lawsuits based on water exposures in the 1980s and earlier could have been blocked by statutes of limitations. Fortunately, the Camp Lejeune Act gives victims of water exposure on the base a new avenue for seeking justice. The Camp Lejeune Act also limits the government’s ability to block lawsuits by claiming governmental immunity.
Who Can Sue Under the Camp Lejeune Act?
If you were at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987, and you have suffered from a condition you can sufficiently link to the water, you have a right to sue. Your 30-day exposure does not have to be consecutive days, and you have a right to sue if your exposure was in utero. You need a good advocate and solid medical evidence regarding the cause of your condition if you want to win your case. You should hire an experienced attorney to effectively argue your case and locate the medical professionals necessary for your success.
What Damages Can I Recover If I Win My Lawsuit?
If your Camp Lejeune Act lawsuit is successful, you can win compensation for your related financial losses and needs. You can also win compensation for your pain and suffering. However, unlike many other civil cases, you cannot win punitive damages in a Camp Lejeune Act lawsuit.
How Do I Initiate My Lawsuit?
Before you can file a Camp Lejeune Act lawsuit, you must first follow claim procedures under Title 28, Section 2675 of the United States Code (28 U.S.C. 2675). You do this by presenting your claim to the proper federal agency. If that agency denies your claim or does not respond to your claim within six months, you can file your lawsuit. You have to file your lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina.
How Much Time Do I Have to File a Lawsuit?
You need to file your lawsuit within two years of the Camp Lejeune Act’s enactment or within 180 days of receiving a federal agency’s claim denial under 28 U.S.C. 2675 (whichever is later). Please remember that the Camp Lejeune Act was enacted on August 10, 2022. The filing deadline can pass quickly, so it is crucial you speak to an attorney immediately to preserve your rights.
We Know How to Win Justice
You deserve justice for suffering the effects of unclean water at Camp Lejeune, and we know how to win justice. At Gerash Steiner Blanton, our Denver attorneys have 75 years of combined experience and are recognized leaders in the legal community. One of our attorneys, Eric Steiner, M.D., is also a doctor. He has 20 years of hands-on experience in law and 17 years of experience as a cardiac anesthesiologist, making him uniquely qualified to understand how the law applies to the medical nuances of your case.
We fight for our clients’ best interests, and we are fully prepared and equipped to fight for you. If you need help, contact us today.