Camp Lejeune Lawsuits To Be Prepared For Series of Early Test Trials in 2024

With tens of thousands of Camp Lejeune lawsuits pending, the Court has approved a plan that will prepare a series of bladder cancer, kidney cancer, leukemia, Parkinson’s disease and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma claims for trial

A group of federal judges presiding over all Camp Lejeune lawsuits are pushing ahead with plans to prepare a group of claims for early bellwether trials, to help gauge how juries are likely to respond to certain evidence and testimony that will be repeated throughout cases over injuries caused by water contamination on the North Carolina military base.

Nearly 100,000 claims have already been presented under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act (CJLA) of 2022 since it went into effect last year, opening a two year window for lawsuits to be filed by individuals injured by contaminated water on the base between the mid-1950s and late-1980s. However, the size and scope of the litigation is expected to continue to increase over the coming year, and it is widely expected that the litigation will become the largest mass tort in U.S. history by the time the filing window closes in August 2024.

The sprawling litigation involves dozens of different injuries allegedly caused by chemicals known to have contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, including various types of cancer, Parkinson’s disease, birth defects, fertility problems and other injuries, each of which plaintiffs must establish was at least as likely as not to have been caused by exposure to water on the base.

Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawsuit

Suffer From Health Issues Due To The Water At Camp Lejeune?

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.

Learn More About this Lawsuit See If You Qualify For Compensation

Last month, the Department of Justice and U.S. Navy announced an elective Camp Lejeune settlement option, offering up to $550,000 to veterans and their families if they suffered specific medical conditions, including kidney cancer, liver cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, leukemias, bladder cancer, multiple myeloma, Parkinson’s disease, kidney disease and systemic sclerosis.

The settlement covered illnesses and conditions linked to Camp Lejeune water, which the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease registry (ATSDR) previously identified as having a high level of evidence establishing a causal link. However, a number of plaintiffs are expected to reject the offer, and there is a great deal of evidence linking various other injuries and illnesses to Camp Lejeune water, which will leave many claims needing to be resolved through the U.S. court system.

Camp Lejeune Lawsuits to Be Selected for Trial

Plaintiffs who decline the elective option to settle their Camp Lejeune lawsuit, or suffered injuries not covered by the offer, will pursue their claim in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, where four separate federal judges are presiding over claims, including Judges Richard E. Myers II, Terrence W. Boyle, Louise W. Flanagan and James C. Dever III.

On September 26, the four judges issued a case management order (PDF), indicating they will move forward with plans to prepare a series of early bellwether test trials, which may be ready to begin next year.

The order indicates the court plans to break up the bellwether trials by disease category, with the first discovery pool of potential trial cases consisting of claims involving the following illnesses:

  • Bladder cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Leukemia
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma

For each of these illnesses, the Court has ordered each side to select 10 cases to be part of an initial discovery pool, for a total of 20 claims per illness, or 100 cases overall. The judges indicate the parties will have to select those cases, within 60 days of the approval and filing of a Master Complaint, which will outline common claims across all Camp Lejeune lawsuits.

These Track 1 discovery plaintiffs will then begin going through case-specific discovery, and later narrow the cases down to a smaller group that will be eligible to go before a jury.

“At the appropriate time, the Court and the Parties shall discuss the selection of a certain Track 1 Discovery Plaintiff or Plaintiffs for a Bellwether trial or trials,” the judges wrote. “The Parties should be prepared to commence trials for the Track 1 Discovery Plaintiffs in 2024.”

October 2023 Camp Lejeune Lawsuit Update

The Camp Lejeune Elective Option would provide settlements ranging from about $100,000 to $550,000, for individuals who suffered any of the following ailments:

  • Kidney Cancer
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Leukemia
  • Bladder cancer
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Liver cancer
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Kidney Disease
  • Systemic sclerosis/scleroderma

The Department of Justice notes that claimants who do not qualify because they have not suffered those specific injuries may still file a claim and seek relief from the U.S. Navy.

While the outcome of the early Camp Lejeune bellwether trials would not have a binding impact on other claims, the amount of any lawsuit payouts awarded may help the parties determine how juries will respond in future cases and facilitate settlement negotiations for different categories of injuries.


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