Motion to Consolidate Camp Lejeune Justice Act Lawsuits Denied By U.S. District Judge
Although hundreds of thousands of Camp Lejeune Justice Act lawsuits are expected to be filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina in the coming weeks, a federal judge has rejected an early request made by plaintiffs lawyers and the federal government to consolidate the cases for coordinated pretrial proceedings.
There are currently several dozen complaints which have already been filed, since President Biden signed the PACT Act into law on August 10, which opened the door for claims to be filed by veterans, family members and other individuals injured by contaminated water at Camp Lejeune between 1953 and 1987. However, the number of lawsuits is expected to increase dramatically over the coming weeks, as U.S. Navy JAG office has already received notice of at least 5,000 Camp Lejeune water contamination claims.
Lawsuits Under Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022
The claims are being pursued under the new Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022, which allows any individuals exposed to the contaminated water for at least 30 days between August 1, 1953 and December 31, 1987 to bring a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, which has been granted exclusive jurisdiction of the litigation.
Estimates suggest that toxic chemicals from Camp Lejeune water may be responsible for more than 50,000 cases of breast cancer, 28,000 cases of bladder cancer, and 24,000 cases of renal cancer, as well as thousands of cases involve Parkinson’s disease and other health complications. It is also believed that Camp Lejeune water caused birth defects and wrongful death for thousands of unborn children exposed in utero.
Learn More About Camp Lejeune lawsuits
Water contamination at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina between 1953 and 1987 caused cancers, birth defects, miscarriages and other side effects for U.S. Marines and their family members.
For months before the law went into effect, Camp Lejeune toxic water lawyers were investigating potential claims, and preparing to present claims by gathering evidence to document that specific injuries that can be linked to chemicals found on the base.
In late August, a joint motion (PDF) was filed by more than 15 plaintiffs’ law firms and attorneys with the U.S. Department of Justice that called for all current and future lawsuits brought under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act (CLJA) to be consolidated.
“The government has previously stated that over one million Marines and their families were potentially affected by the toxic drinking water at Camp Lejeune,” the plaintiffs wrote. “Plaintiffs believe that hundreds of thousands of additional individuals have claims and may ultimately file suit against the government asserting a cause of action under the CLJA.”
Consolidating the Camp Lejeune Justice Act lawsuits before one Judge was intended to save the Court and parties considerable time and expenses, by limiting the risk of duplicative discovery and inconsistent pretrial rulings.
However, on September 15, U.S. District Judge Terrence W. Boyle filed an order (PDF) which rejected the motion, without comment or clarification.
September 2022 Camp Lejeune Lawsuit Update
Lawsuits filed so far over water contamination at Camp Lejeune represent only the tip of an iceberg, which is expected to become the largest mass tort litigation in U.S. history, and Congressional Budget Office estimates already project that the total costs of Camp Lejeune Justice Act lawsuit payouts and settlements will exceed $6 billion.
Prior to bringing a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, each claimant must provide notice of their claim to the U.S. Navy JAG office, including an administrative claim form that documents when each individual was exposed to water at the Marine base, the nature of their injury and a stated dollar amount that would be accepted as a Camp Lejeune Justice Act settlement. However, if the claim is denied or a final disposition is not reached in six months, then a Camp Lejeune Justice Act lawsuit can be filed.
Although this early request to consolidate the litigation was denied, it is ultimately expected that the court will establish a coordinated discovery and litigation process, where the parties can examine claims and engage in settlement discussions regarding specific injuries linked to the Camp Lejeune water.
In the coming months, the judges in the Eastern District of North Carolina are likely to provide further guidance regarding the structure of the litigation.
Latest Updates on Camp Lejeune Justice Act Lawsuits
Find out the latest information and updates about Camp Lejeune lawsuits throughout 2022, including the status of the litigation criteria for claims being pursued by lawyers.
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