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Marine With Terminal Bladder Cancer From Camp Lejeune Water Seeks Pre-Lawsuit Deposition To Preserve Testimony
A former U.S. Marine suffering from terminal cancer is asking a federal judge to enter an order approving an early deposition to preserve his testimony, indicating that he intends to file a claim alleging that he developed the bladder cancer from Camp Lejeune water contamination, but his health condition continues to rapidly deteriorate and he may not live long enough to see the case through.
Charles Hartfield served in the U.S. Marine Corps from June 1, 1977 to January 25, 1978, during which time he was stationed for some time at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, which it is now known was plagued with widespread water contamination between the mid-1950s and late 1980s.
According to a petition (PDF) filed last week in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, Hartfield intends to file a lawsuit against the U.S. government under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, which was just signed into law by President Biden on August 10, 2022. However, the new law includes an administrative requirement that he present notice to the U.S. Department of Navy, and wait at least six months before filing a complaint and starting the discovery process.
In January 2021, Hartfield was told he had three-to-five years to live under the best-case scenario. Since then, treatments have done little to extend his life or reverse the course of the disease.
“Mr. Hartfield’s bladder cancer remains terminal, and his condition continues to rapidly deteriorate,” according to the petition. “Likewise, as of the date of this Petition, all attempts to effect a cure to his bladder cancer have failed and, importantly, his condition continues to worsen daily. Sadly, Mr. Hartfield’s prognosis is grim.”
Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Bladder Cancer Lawsuit
The petition indicates Hartfield is seeking damages under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022, which opened a two year window for veterans, military family members and other individuals exposed to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune to file a claim against the U.S. government, which had previously denied all claims under qualified immunity defenses and the North Carolina Statute of Repose, which was already expired for many claims by the time information about the water contamination was publicly disclosed.
Since President Biden signed the landmark new legislation on August 10, 2022 Hartfield and thousands of other former Marines have filed notice of intent to seek Camp Lejeune settlement benefits for various types of cancer, neurological disorders and other disease linked to contaminants in the water.
Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawsuit
Hartfield indicates in the petition that he was exposed to Camp Lejeune water for at least 30 days, as required by the new law. In December 2020, he was diagnosed with bladder cancer from the Camp Lejeune water contamination, indicating that he wants to preserve testimony regarding his career of military service, his personal recollection about exposure to water at Camp Lejeune, his medical history and information that will form the basis of his claim that the bladder cancer was caused by Camp Lejeune water. However, he can not yet bring a lawsuit under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, since the six month pre-suit administrative claims process has not yet been exhausted.
Therefore, Hartfield seeks an order that will allow his testimony to be promptly preserved for use in the future Camp Lejeune bladder cancer lawsuit that will likely be brought by his Estate after his death.
Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Risks
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 28,000 cases of bladder cancer, 50,000 cases of breast 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.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a study in 2014, which looked at deaths among Camp Lejeune civilian workers between 1979 and 2008. When they compared those deaths to deaths at another military base which was not known to have contaminated water, they found that Camp Lejeune workers had higher rates of death due to bladder cancer, as well as cancers of the breasts, kidneys, lungs, oral cavity, prostate, and rectum.
Workers were also found to face an increased risk of dying from kidney diseases, leukemias, multiple myeloma and Parkinson’s disease.
Many of these injuries, including bladder cancer, are specifically listed by the Department of Veterans Affairs as injuries Camp Lejeune workers and residents can be compensated for under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act.
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