Eligible for a Camp Lejeune lawsuit?
Camp Lejeune Settlement Payouts Totaling $1.45M Have Been Made in Only Six Cases, While More Than 147K Claims Await Resolution
The U.S. government indicates that it has issued Camp Lejeune settlement payouts of about $1.5 million, which only resolved six claims presented by individuals who suffered water contamination injuries while living, working, and serving on the North Carolina U.S. Marine Corps training base between the mid-1950s and late 1980s. However, more than 147,000 other individuals have presented claims for financial compensation.
Each of the claims are being pursued under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act (CLJA) of 2022, which President Joe Biden signed into law a year and a half ago, opening a two-year window for lawsuits to be brought by anyone injured by contaminated water at the base, after the Navy previously denied claims for decades due to the North Carolina statute of limitations, which had already expired by the time the problems were discovered.
The litigation includes claims for dozens of different injuries that were allegedly caused by toxic chemicals in the water at Camp Lejeune, including various types of cancer, Parkinson’s disease, birth defects, fertility problems and other injuries, and it is widely expected that the litigation will become one of the largest mass torts in U.S. history by the time the filing window closes in August 2024.
Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawsuit
While the U.S. government has offered an elective Camp Lejeune settlement option, providing guaranteed tiers of compensation for veterans and their families if they suffered certain medical conditions, such as kidney cancer, liver cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, leukemia, bladder cancer, multiple myeloma, Parkinson’s disease and systemic sclerosis, many claimants do not qualify for this settlement offer, or intend to pursue additional compensation through the U.S. court system.
Camp Lejeune Lawsuit Settlement Progress
The legislation requires that all Camp Lejeune lawsuits be filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, where four separate judges are working together to coordinate and manage the proceedings, including Judges Richard E. Myers II, Terrence W. Boyle, Louise W. Flanagan and James C. Dever III.
In a joint status report (PDF) issued by plaintiffs and defendants on December 19, the parties indicated that there are currently 1,471 Camp Lejeune lawsuits filed to date, along with 147,428 administrative claims presented for pre-suit settlement negotiations. However, the U.S. Department of Justice has only reviewed a fraction of the claims, and less than 100 claims have been determined to qualify for a Camp Lejeune settlement payout.
Of the 147,428 administrative claims presented to the U.S. government, where the claimants are required to wait at least 180 days before any lawsuit can be filed, the U.S. government has only approved 52 claims for the elective settlement option. As of December 18, 2023, eight of those offers were accepted, one offer was rejected, 10 have expired and 35 others are still pending.
For claims that previously went through the 180 day administrative process without receiving an offer and a lawsuit has already been filed, the U.S. government has determined that 26 are eligible for settlement payouts so far. Of those claims, the report notes that two of the offers were accepted by plaintiffs, two have been rejected, six of the offers have expired with no response and the other 16 offers are still pending.
Camp Lejeune Lawsuit Settlement Payouts
Of the eight Camp Lejeune settlement offers that have been accepted, the government has issued payments in six cases, totaling $1.45 million in compensation for individuals diagnosed with either Parkinson’s Disease, non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Leukemia, or Bladder Cancer.
Details of the Camp Lejeune settlement payments were released in the joint status report, revealing the following payments for certain injuries caused by Camp Lejeune water exposure;
- $250,000 payment for a Parkinson’s Disease claim.
- $300,000 payment for a non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma claim.
- $300,000 payment for a Leukemia claim.
- $300,000 payment for a Leukemia claim.
- $150,000 payment for a Leukemia claim.
- $150,000 payment for a Bladder Cancer claim.
While payment details of the last two settlement offers accepted were not disclosed, the report indicated these claims required payment processing through the Department of the Treasury’s Judgment Fund.
“The Parties have had several preliminary discussions regarding the possibility of a global resolution of claims that remain in the administrative and legal processes. The Parties continue to negotiate a resolution questionnaire and resolution roadmap,” the joint status report states. “The Parties are exploring the use of a Special Master to help resolve issues regarding global settlement information and procedures and are in the process of identifying candidates for that position.”
Camp Lejeune Bellwether Trial Preparation Continues
While the settlement negotiations continue, the parties continue to work toward the selection of potential Camp Lejeune bellwether cases, which will be used to gauge the relative strengths and weaknesses of evidence that will be presented throughout tens of thousands of claims. These early test trial cases will be conducted in three tiers, or tracks.
The first tier will involve 100 cases, which will form the initial bellwether pool, spread evenly across claims involving the following categories of injuries:
- Bladder Cancer
- Kidney Cancer
- Parkinson’s disease
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
However, the parties have yet to agree on the protocols for selecting the Track 2 and Track 3 bellwether pools.
For the Track 2 cases, plaintiffs entered a proposal (PDF) suggesting they be selected from cases involving liver cancer, sclerosis scleroderma, multiple myeloma, kidney disease and aplastic anemia. However, the government’s attorneys suggested in a competing submission (PDF) that the cases involve claims of prostate cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer, pancreatic cancer and esophageal cancer.
In another proposal (PDF) issued on December 27, plaintiffs called for the Track 3 cases to consist of the injuries proposed by defendants as the Track 2 cases, substituting pancreatic cancer for childhood leukemia. A submission (PDF) by defendants calls for the cases to involve claims of cervical cancer, miscarriage, non-cardiac birth defects and neurobehavioral effects.
While the outcome of the early bellwether trials will not have a binding impact on other claims, the amount of any Camp Lejeune lawsuit payouts awarded may help the parties in those negotiations, by demonstrating how juries or judges will respond in future cases to various types of injuries.
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