Lawyers Prepare to File Camp Lejeune Toxic Water Lawsuits Once Legislation Enacted

Once the Camp Lejeune Justice Act is signed into law, former service members and family members injured by toxic water at the base will only have two years to file a lawsuit against the U.S. government.

While new legislation is still being finalized by U.S. lawmakers, which will provide important benefits and coverage for U.S. service members and their families injured by toxic exposures, lawyers nationwide are already starting to investigate claims and preparing to file Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuits once the law goes into effect.

President Biden was expected to sign the “Honoring our PACT” Act before the Independence Day holiday, but final passage of the landmark legislation has been delayed due to procedural issues. However, with bipartisan support in both the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate, the bill is expected to be finalized once law makers return from recess next week.

The bill includes the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, which will allow lawsuits to be filed against the U.S. government by former service members, their families and any other individuals exposed to toxic water on the Marine base for at least 30 days between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987. Previously those individuals have been barred from obtaining any settlement benefits, since the statute of limitations and statute of repose in North Carolina prevented the claims by the time the water contamination was confirmed.

In anticipation of the imminent passage, lawyers are already working to document potential Camp Lejeune toxic water lawsuits, and gathering evidence that will be required to establish that specific injuries reported by former service members and their families were caused by contaminants in the water at Camp Lejeune.

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.

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The U.S. House of Representatives passed the bill with a vote of 256 to 174 in March 2022, and the U.S. Senate passed an amended version 84 to 14 on June 16, with support from both Democrats and Republicans. As the bill headed back to the House for final approval of the amendments, President Biden pledged in a statement that he would sign it into law “right away”. However, it does not appear that will happen until at least the week of July 11.

Limited Time to File Claims For Camp Lejeune Toxic Water Exposure

Once the new law is fully enacted, it will open a two year window for veterans and their families to file lawsuits over injuries caused by toxic water exposure at Camp Lejeune between 1953 and 1987, as well as provide important benefits for exposures to burn pits, radiation, Agent Orange and other toxic substances during military service.

While the U.S. government will not be able to raise the North Carolina statute of limitations or statute of repose as a defense in the Camp Lejeune lawsuits, or assert qualified immunity to the claims, each individual plaintiff will still need to establish a causal relationship between their claimed injury and the toxins in Camp Lejeune water, which will require expert testimony and supporting evidence.

Claimants will only have two years after the Camp Lejeune Justice Act is signed into law to file their claim in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, which has been granted exclusive jurisdiction for the claims. However, each claim must first be submitted to the U.S. government and final denial must be received writing before a lawsuit can be filed, which is automatically provided if a final disposition is not reached within six months after the notice.

Tens of Thousands of Camp Lejeune Water Lawsuits Expected

More than one million Marines and their family members lived at Camp Lejeune between the early 1950s and late 1980s, and some estimates suggest that toxic chemicals in the 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, birth defects and other health complications.

Since there will only be a limited time to document and pursue claims once the law is enacted, lawyers are starting to investigate potential Camp Lejeune toxic water lawsuits in advance of the legislation’s final passage, and gathering information about individual injuries suffered, so that necessary experts can be retained.

Samples of the Camp Lejeune water supply have identified multiple different volatile organic compounds (VOC) that posed a risk to individuals living or working on the base, including trichlorethylene (TCE), tetrachloroethylene (PCE), vinyl chloride (VC) and benzene.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has previously established a list of certain conditions that are presumptively caused by the Camp Lejeune toxic water, including bladder cancer, kidney cancer, liver cancer, multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkins lymphoma, Parkinson’s disease, adult leukemia, aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndrome. However, numerous additional injuries are believed to be related to the water and the VA has only covered claims for veterans, not their family members.

If passed into law, the bill would allow Camp LeJeune water lawsuits to be pursued by any individual who was exposed for at least 30 days between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987, including family members living on the base, civilian contractors working on the base and even unborn children who were exposed in utero.

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The President has signed the Camp Lejeune Justice Act into law as part of a larger package of veterans toxic chemical exposure health care benefits, which will allow those exposed to water contamination while living or serving on the base to file lawsuits against the federal government.