More Than 129K Camp Lejeune Claims Filed With U.S. Navy Over Injuries Caused By Water Contamination at Marine Base

Only a small number of Camp Lejeune lawsuits have been qualified for a settlement offer according to the report, which updated the Court on progress resolving claims in the rapidly growing litigation

Recent court documents reveal that the U.S. Navy has received nearly 130,000 Camp Lejeune water contamination claims, each involving allegations that military veterans, their families, and others developed various types of cancer and other ailments following exposure to toxic chemicals in the water at the North Carolina Marine training base between the mid-1950s and late 1980s.

The documents also reveal that only about 1,400 of Camp Lejeune claims have actually been filed in the U.S. Eastern District Court of North Carolina, which is the exclusive venue where lawsuits must be brought if the case is not resolved within 180 days after notice being presented to the U.S. Department of Navy. However, with only a small number of claims qualified for settlement offers so far, the size and scope of the litigation is expected to continue to increase at a rapid rate in the coming months.

Claims Over Camp Lejeune Water Contamination May Become Largest Mass Tort in U.S. History

Each of the claims have been presented to the U.S. Navy under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022, which President Joe Biden signed into law last year, 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

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

While the U.S. government has proposed an elective Camp Lejeune claim settlement option, which provides 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 will not qualify for this settlement offer or intend to pursue additional compensation through the U.S. court system.

To help the parties gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that will be repeated throughout large numbers of claims, four judges presiding over the litigation in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina have established a Camp Lejeune bellwether process, which calls for the first cases to be ready to go before juries sometime next year.

Camp Lejeune Claims Status Report

As the cases are prepared, the judges presiding over the Camp Lejeune lawsuits have scheduled a series of status conferences, and directed the parties to file regular reports updating the Court on progress of the litigation and attempts to resolve claims before lawsuits are filed.

On November 11, plaintiffs’ attorneys and the U.S. government submitted a joint status report (PDF), indicating that about 129,158 Camp Lejeune administrative claims have already been submitted to the U.S. Navy for review and settlement discussions.

Last week, the judges issued an order (PDF) adopting a plan by plaintiffs’ leadership lawyers to use the Rubris Crosslink platform as a litigation management database, to keep track of the growing number of claims being presented and filed in court.

All Short Form Complaints filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina will be put into the system, creating a database that can be easily accessed and sorted through by all parties, as they select individual cases to be prepared for early trial dates.

Camp Lejeune Lawsuit Settlement Negotiations

Earlier this year, the judges presiding over the litigation called for the parties to meet and confer on a process for reaching a global resolution to resolve Camp Lejeune lawsuit claims, which would prevent the federal court system from being overloaded with potentially tens of thousands of expensive and time-consuming trials.

According to the status report submitted earlier this month, the sides are still working to reach such a resolution.

The U.S. Department of Navy has only been able to determine that 10 of the pending Camp Lejeune claims meet the criteria for the government’s elective settlement option. Eight of those claimants accepted the option and those settlements are pending. Two others refused the government’s settlement offer.

In the meantime, the parties continue to work toward the selection of potential bellwether cases.

The parties are currently working on selecting 100 cases overall to form the initial bellwether pool, spread evenly across claims involving the following categories of injuries:

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

While the outcome of the early Camp Lejeune bellwether trials will not have a binding impact on other claims, the amount of any lawsuit payouts awarded may help the parties in those negotiations, by demonstrating how juries will respond in future cases to various types of injuries.

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