Camp Lejeune Lawyers Request Judges Coordinate Management of Growing Litigation

The U.S. Navy indicates there are now at least 25,000 Camp Lejeune claims being pursued by Marines and their families who developed cancer and other diseases due to contaminated water exposure.

With a rapidly growing number of Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuits being filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, lawyers for both the U.S. government and plaintiffs are asking that the cases be consolidated before one judge, or that the Court coordinate pretrial proceedings in the litigation.

Last summer, President Joe Biden signed the Camp Lejeune Justice Act (CJLA) of 2022 into law, which opened a two-year window for veterans, military family members and other individuals exposed to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune to file a lawsuit against the U.S. government, which had previously denied all claims under qualified immunity defenses and the North Carolina Statute of Repose.

As a result, thousands of marines and their family members are now pursuing Camp Lejeune settlement benefits for various types of cancer, neurological disorders and other diseases linked to contaminants in the water.

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

The new law requires that all lawsuits over Camp Lejeune water contamination be brought in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, which has been granted exclusive jurisdiction over the claims. However, the lawsuits are currently assigned to various different Judges in the district, and the Court has not yet established and coordination protocols to avoid duplicate pretrial proceedings and potentially conflicting rulings.

In a motion (PDF) filed on March 23, Camp Lejeune lawyers indicate that about 500 plaintiffs have already filed 26 different lawsuits, which are currently pending before three different U.S. District Judgees. To increase efficiency, reduce duplicative discovery and avoid inconsistent rulings, the lawyers are asking that the cases be coordinated during pretrial proceedings, or consolidated before one judge.

“Given the unique nature of the CLJA, and the novelty of the statute likely to give rise to issues of first impression, the parties submit that it will be vitally important to ensure that present and future-filed Plaintiffs are fairly and adequately represented in any coordinated or consolidated proceedings,” the motion states. “It is further critical to ensure that, if possible, fact and expert discovery processes are phased, or staged, such that issues of common import that could have a practical effect on numerous Plaintiffs are resolved in a coordinated, fair, and thorough manner.”

Counsel for both the U.S. Department of Justice and Camp Lejeune injury lawyers from at least 15 different law firms have joined together in the motion. The Court previously denied a similar motion to consolidate the Camp Lejeune lawsuits in September 2022. However, attorneys point out that motion involved claims that were filed prematurely, before the administrative remedies required under the Act had been exhausted.

Now that 180 days have passed since notice of the earliest claims presented under the new law, and no Camp Lejeune settlements have been paid by the U.S. government, thousands of lawsuits are expected to be filed.

In a memorandum (PDF) in support of the motion, Camp Lejeune attorneys suggest that if the cases are not consolidated before a single judge, coordination between the three judges would allow the Court to be flexible in efficiently managing the litigation.

“Coordinating or consolidating the cases comprising these proceedings should generate efficiencies benefiting the parties and the Court, so long as it is a process performed in a manner that accounts and calibrates for the unique nature of the CLJA claims,” according to the memorandum. “Accordingly, the parties respectfully request that the Court enter an initial case management order preliminarily coordinating these proceedings and soliciting the submission of proposals for their further organization and progression. The parties are filing this identical motion in cases pending before each of the judges in this District.”

One of the judges, District Court Judge James C. Dever III, held the first Camp Lejeune conference hearing on Wednesday, April 5 to discuss how the litigation may be structured in his court.

Camp Lejeune Water Contamination

Estimates suggest more than a million Marines and their family members were exposed to contaminated Camp Lejeune water between the early 1950s and late 1980s, with some reports suggesting that toxic chemicals from Camp Lejeune 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 Camp Lejeune water caused birth defects and wrongful death for thousands of unborn children exposed in utero.

Although the U.S. government has acknowledged that toxic chemicals contaminated the water at Camp Lejeune for decades, the new law still places the burden of proof on individual plaintiffs to establish that their specific injury was caused by toxic water, and the amount of any Camp Lejeune water contamination payout they should receive.

Claims have already been submitted involving a wide range of injuries, including:

Camp Lejeune Cancers:

  • Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML)
  • Brain Cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Bladder cancer
  • Central Nervous System Cancer
  • Cervical cancer
  • Colon Cancer/Colorectal Cancer
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Hodgkins Lymphoma
  • Kidney cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Leukemia
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
  • Prostate Cancer
  • Rectal Cancer
  • Thyroid Cancer

Other Side Effects from Camp Lejeune Water:

  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Renal Toxicity/Kidney Disease
  • Kidney Damage
  • Hepatic steatosis (fatty liver disease)
  • Aplastic anemia
  • Scleroderma
  • Birth defects
  • Miscarriage
  • Female Infertility
  • Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
  • Epilepsy (seizures)
  • Immune Disorders
  • Nerve Damage
  • Neurobehavioral effects
  • Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS or Pre-Leukemia)
  • Neurobehavioral effects (tremors, lack of coordination, movement or motor problems or other symptoms consistent with undiagnosed Parkinson’s disease)

April 2023 Camp Lejeune Lawsuit Update

A rapidly growing number of Camp Lejeune lawsuits have been filed over the past month, since each claimant had to wait 180 days after notifying the U.S. government of their intention to pursue a claim. The U.S. Navy indicates at least 25,000 claims have been filed to date. However, the size and scope of the litigation is expected to continue to increase rapidly over the next two years, before the August 2024 deadline for filing lawsuits.

While the U.S. government passed this landmark legislation, the law does not include any automatic right to settlement benefits for veterans and their family members. Rather, each claimant must file a lawsuit and establish that they were exposed to Camp Lejeune water for at least 30 days between August 1953 and December 31, 1987. It is also necessary that they present expert testimony or support to establish that there is a causal relationship between the Camp Lejeune water and injury, or that such a relationship is at least as likely as not.

At this time, Camp Lejeune injury lawyers are reviewing claims for a wide variety of cancers and other complications that may have been caused by the chemicals in the water.

Contact A Lawyer

Have a Camp Lejeune Lawyer Review Your Claim

If you or a loved one were diagnosed with an injury after exposure to Camp Lejeune water for at least 30 days between 1953 and 1987, request a free consultation and claim evaluation with a Camp Lejeune injury lawyer to find out if you may be eligible for settlement benefits.

FIND OUT IF YOU ARE ELIGIBLE
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