It is estimated that over 500K of the Marines and family members who spent time at Camp Lejeune will get sick
One of the most severely contaminated sites at Camp Lejeune was the Tarawa Terrace military housing area, where toxic chemicals improperly disposed of by ABC One-Hour Cleaners, a dry-cleaning firm, were lurking.
Furthermore, Hadnot Point was contaminated with dangerous chemicals from multiple sources, such as leaking underground storage tanks, industrial area spills, and leakage from a toxic waste dump.
According to researchers, the level of toxic chemicals polluting the environment of Camp Lejeune was between 240 and 3,400 times higher than the safe limit.
Over one million military personnel and their family members were stationed at Camp Lejeune between 1953 and 1987, numerous of whom came to struggle with terrible health problems as a result of toxic exposure. Dangerous chemicals present at Camp Lejeune during the last century:
Claims/lawsuits eligibility for Camp Lejeune water contamination victims
On August 11, 2022, the Camp Lejeune Justice Act was signed into law by President Joe Biden, allowing everyone who spent time at the military base between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987, for at least 30 consecutive days to obtain compensation from the government.
The CLJA is now part of the Honoring Our PACT Act, which is perhaps the largest healthcare and benefit expansion in VA history. It expands the eligibility of veterans affected by toxic exposure, adds over 20 new presumptive diagnoses, and requires the VA to offer a toxic exposure screening to each veteran enrolled in its healthcare system. In addition to receiving financial compensation under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, veterans can also receive money from the VA.
They can apply for VA disability benefits, which can be as high as $3,000 per month if they have a disability rating of 100%. If they are severely disabled and need the assistance of another person to perform daily tasks, Camp Lejeune Veteran Marines can also apply for Special Monthly Compensation.
We encourage veterans, reservists, and guardsmen who have been stationed at Camp Lejeune and developed a disease to contact our attorneys. They will help file a water contamination claim/lawsuit and a VA claim so that you can receive the maximum financial compensation you are entitled to, as well as VA benefits. However, to qualify for filing a Camp Lejeune water contamination claim/lawsuit, you must meet the following eligibility criteria as a former military member:
- you must have been stationed at Camp Lejeune between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987
- you must have spent at least 30 consecutive days at Camp Lejeune during that period
- you must have one of the linkable diseases
- you must retrieve your military records and your medical records
- you must not have received a dishonorable discharge from the military
At the moment, roughly 38,769 family members of military personnel live at Camp Lejeune. We know that money cannot offer a cure for the serious, often life-threatening health problems these people came to struggle with as a result of toxic exposure. Still, we advise family members to take legal action, too, as the financial compensation they can receive will make access to quality healthcare and treatment significantly easier. These are the eligibility criteria they must meet to file a Camp Lejeune toxic water claim or a VA claim:
- you must have been stationed at Camp Lejeune between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987
- you must have spent at least 30 consecutive days at Camp Lejeune during that period
- you must have one of the linkable diagnoses
- you must retrieve your medical records, which must clearly explain the link between your diagnosis and toxic exposure
- you must provide us with proof of having lived at Camp Lejeune, such as utility bills, base housing records, military orders, or tax forms
- you must send our Camp Lejeune lawyers a document proving your relationship to the Veteran Marine whom you were stationed with, such as a marriage license, birth certificate, or adoption papers
- your treating physician must complete the Camp Lejeune Family Member Program Treating Physician Report
Diseases you can develop following toxic exposure at Camp Lejeune
Because the chemicals present at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune are highly toxic to the human organism, Marines, their family members and civilians who were exposed are now at great risk of developing a serious, even fatal disease as a result of exposure. When it comes to cancer, misdiagnosis is very common, as the symptoms of the disease often resemble the signs of more common and less serious health problems.
For this reason, we strongly advise you to seek a second opinion from a medical specialist, as you may have received a wrong diagnosis. Not only will a correct diagnosis qualify you for recovering compensation by filing a Camp Lejeune toxic water claim/lawsuit, but it will also help you receive timely and appropriate treatment for your health problem.
The following are the diseases and health issues associated with exposure to the toxic agents present at Camp Lejeune. The list contains the presumptive diagnoses and other possible afflictions as well:
Camp Lejeune presumptive service connection
The VA presumes that certain diseases occurring in Camp Lejeune Marines were directly caused by their military service, specifically by drinking contaminated water at the military base. These diagnoses are known as presumptive conditions.
Because the VA assumes that these health problems have a strong association with military service, veterans who intend to file a claim do not have to prove the connection between their illness and their time spent at Camp Lejeune.
The following are the presumptive diagnoses for which you can file a VA claim:
- bladder cancer
- kidney cancer
- liver cancer
- adult leukemia
- non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
- multiple myeloma
- Parkinson’s disease
- aplastic anemia
- myelodysplastic syndromes
- esophageal cancer
- neurobehavioral effects
- breast cancer (male/female)
- lung cancer
- female infertility
Our attorneys can help you file a Camp Lejeune wrongful death claim
Unfortunately, many Camp Lejeune veterans avoid seeking the compensation they deserve because of their fear of a long and complex legal process, and many pass away before they can even take legal action. Still, if you have a family member who was a Camp Lejeune veteran and died of a disease caused by drinking toxic water at the military base, we encourage you to contact our attorneys, as you might be able to file a wrongful death claim to recover compensation on their behalf. The money you can obtain can help you with past medical expenses and funeral expenses.
Therefore, if you lost a family member who was a Camp Lejeune veteran and had not filed a claim to obtain compensation, we might be able to help you file a wrongful death claim, so do not hesitate to contact our law firm. With over 30 years of experience in handling toxic exposure claims, we will go to great lengths to recover the maximum compensation available on behalf of your deceased loved one if we determine that you are eligible. Our law firm works on a contingency fee basis, so you will not have to pay anything out of pocket unless we obtain money for you.
Testimonials of people who developed serious diseases as a consequence of staying at Camp Lejeune
Since over 1 million people and their family members were exposed to the toxic agents present at Camp Lejeune over a period of 30 years, numerous of these individuals sought financial compensation for the awful, even life-threatening diseases they came to struggle with, including from our law firm. The following are only some of the cases our skillful attorneys have pursued so far to recover fair benefits for veterans and their family members.
The woman, a mother of two, came to struggle with leukemia for 2 years while staying at Camp Lejeune with her husband, who was in the U.S. Marine Corps at the time. She is 46, and, after experiencing a series of distressing symptoms, including fever, severe weight loss, fatigue, and swollen lymph nodes, she sought medical attention. After several weeks, she received her leukemia diagnosis, which was stage 3. "We had no idea that the site was contaminated, and everyone who was staying with us was exposed. I would have never imagined what this will turn into for me and my family.", she says.
After spending 8 months at Camp Lejeune in 1964, William Smith, age 67, developed kidney cancer, which was very advanced when he was diagnosed. "Nobody warned us about the chemicals; we were clueless", he recalls. The man decided to take legal action to recover the compensation he was entitled to for his awful diagnosis, and our attorneys recovered a substantial sum of money on his behalf. Unfortunately, because his disease is so advanced, surgery is not a viable treatment option for William Smith, who is currently receiving palliative care.
As a veteran who served in the U.S. Marine Corps between 1954 and 1968, Thomas Ramirez was stationed at Camp Lejeune for 4 years. Today, he is struggling with lung cancer as a result of exposure to toxic agents. "Somehow, the chemicals reached my lungs, and now I have stage 2 lung cancer. The only good thing about this situation is that my disease was found just in time for me to undergo surgery", he says. Thomas Ramirez decided to take legal action with the help of our skillful attorneys, and now he has enough money to afford to pay his medical expenses.
Richard Blackstone was stationed at Camp Lejeune between 1966 and 1983. Like the majority of people, he also was exposed to chemicals during his stay at the military base, which resulted in liver cancer, a terrible diagnosis with which he is still struggling today. Unfortunately, his disease was discovered in advanced stages, and thereby, medical professionals can only administer him chemotherapy to ease his symptoms, and he is also receiving palliative care. "By the time we found out it was too late for us. I’ve been on base for 17 years, which definitely took a heavy toll on my health", he recalls. Our attorneys also helped him recover the financial compensation he was eligible for, which is a great help with regard to the cost of his healthcare and treatment costs.
As a wife of a U.S. Marine Corps soldier, Michelle Levine developed stage 3 bladder cancer after toxic exposure from Camp Lejeune for 2 years. While her disease was very advanced, she was still eligible for surgery, which gives her hope that her cancer will eventually go into remission. "Nobody knew... I personally know three other people whom I met at Camp Lejeune and who were also diagnosed with cancer", she remembers. Soon after finding out about her disease, she contacted our law firm in the hope of recovering compensation for her diagnosis, as Michelle Levine was struggling financially before receiving the awful news. We were able to provide her with the legal assistance she needed, and now she has enough money to help her with the cost of her cancer treatment.
Today, Benjamin Thompson is a veteran who was also stationed at Camp Lejeune between 1959 and 1962. He was not aware of the dangerous chemicals present in it, and as a consequence, he developed esophageal cancer. "We didn’t know back then. Not in my worst nightmares would I have thought that I will receive such a serious diagnosis. My cancer was only stage 2 when it was found, which made me eligible for surgery, fortunately", he says. Because he needed more money to afford to pay for his medical expenses, Benjamin Thompson decided to reach out to our law firm, which helped him recover the compensation he was entitled to from Camp Lejeune.
As the son of a U.S. Marine Corps soldier, Nicholas Wilson came to develop lymphoma as a consequence of toxic chemical exposure while he and his family were staying at Camp Lejeune between 1958 and 1960. Unfortunately, his disease was very advanced when it was discovered by medical professionals, but he is still eligible for receiving chemotherapy and radiotherapy in the hope of shrinking his tumors. "I was only 12 when my family went to Camp Lejeune by virtue of my father’s occupation. I had no idea and nor did the others that the area was contaminated with over 70 chemicals", he recalls. Because he needed more money for his cancer treatment, he took legal action, and our experienced attorneys helped him receive the compensation he was eligible for.
Updates & timeline for Camp Lejeune
Since the beginning of this month, 22 more toxic exposure victims have filed civil lawsuits under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act. By the end of the month, approximately 260 Camp Lejeune civil lawsuits were filed in the Eastern District of North Carolina since the first claims brought under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act had become eligible to bring civil cases over one month ago.
Over 15,000 Camp Lejeune toxic water claims have been filed by veterans, family members, and civilians under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act. A recent article from Bloomberg News suggests that there could be up to 500,000 claims until the deadline, which is August 2024. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry study estimates that the number of people who spent time at the military base and developed cancer and other serious health problems is roughly 200,000. Therefore, a reasonable estimate of Camp Lejeune toxic water claims is 100,000 to 200,000.
Additionally, the VA is urging Camp Lejeune toxic exposure victims to file claims for VA disability benefits, even if they are pursuing a claim under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act. The VA's Office of the General Counsel recently issued a statement assuring veterans "that VA is not going to reduce or deny your benefits" if you pursue a claim under the new law. The VA statements aim to clarify that disability benefits are still available to those who bring lawsuits under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that Camp Lejeune claims will cost "$6.1 billion over the next ten years." This is based on the CBO cost analysis issued in February 2022 when the Camp Lejeune Justice Act was first introduced. However, the CBO subsequently issued another report that revised its estimate. Even if we consider this number and assume that the total claim number will be approximately 20,000, that would equate to roughly $305,000 per claim.
By January 9, up to 14,000 Camp Lejeune toxic water claims had been filed since the Camp Lejeune Justice Act became law. The total number of toxic exposure claims might easily reach 75,000 in 2023. Lastly, 4 more Camp Lejeune legacy cases were dismissed for failing to re-submit an administrative claim to JAG before filing a civil suit. Only a small handful of the legacy cases remain pending, and they will likely be rejected on the same basis soon.
According to the Navy JAG Tort Claims Unit, the number of claims filed by toxic exposure victims under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act is up to 14,000. This number is expected to double over the next few months. Furthermore, in all Camp Lejeune legacy cases, the court clerk entered a note on the docket stating that the government's motion to dismiss for failure to refile administrative claims has been "submitted to District Judge Terrence W. Boyle." This could mean that the motion in all Camp Lejeune legacy cases will be subject to a single decision and ruling by Judge Boyle.
Finally, a judge in the Eastern District of North Carolina dismissed 8 of the Camp Lejeune legacy cases for failing to refile administrative claims with JAG after the Camp Lejeune Justice Act was enacted. Judge James C. Denver, III, ruled that when the bill was passed in August, it created new legal claims that could not be related to the prior lawsuits filed by the legacy plaintiffs. Although this ruling applied to only 8 of the 22 legacy cases, it will most likely be followed by the other judges in their cases.
Proposed by Representative Matt Cartwright on March 26, 2021, the Camp Lejeune Justice Act is meant to allow certain individuals to file claims and lawsuits and recover damages for harm from exposure to toxic chemicals at Camp Lejeune that occurred between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987. However, this action is available only to people exposed to harmful chemicals for at least 30 days. The bill also forbids the U.S. government from asserting immunity from litigation in response to such a lawsuit.
On June 16, 2022, the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, bill number H.R. 2192, passed, and now, military veterans, their family members, and civilians have access to the court systems. It enables everyone whose health was affected by living and working at Camp Lejeune to exercise their constitutional right to take legal action against the U.S. government for toxic exposure on the base.
A Record of Decision (ROD) was issued in 2018 and referred to Site UXO-06 (OU24), which includes a borrow pit once used as a target for military practice and three adjacent cantonment areas. The remedies were institutional controls and munition surface clearance, which were implemented in 2019.
A ROD was also issued in 2019 concerning Site UXO-24 and Site 37 (OU26). They include undeveloped property and a former surface dump. The remedy for Site UXO-24 was institutional controls. Remedy implementation for various areas of Camp Lejeune continues to this day.
In early 2017, the VA released a definitive rule providing veterans, reservists, National Guard members, and their surviving spouses access to more than $2 billion in disability benefits. With this rule came a list of eight diseases for which the department says there is enough medical evidence to be connected to Camp Lejeune's toxic exposure to cancer chemicals.
Also, in 2017, Congress passed another statute that allowed veterans to receive compensation on a presumption of exposure. A presumption of exposure means that a veteran has qualifying service, and as a result, the VA presumes that they were exposed to certain harmful chemicals or environmental hazards. Presumptions of exposure replace the requirement for service connection that requires veterans to have in-service events or symptoms that caused their current condition. In these instances, the VA counts in-service exposure as the event.
In 2016, Marine Corps veterans and their family members filed 800 Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuits per the Federal Tort Claims Act. It allows individuals to sue the government for personal injuries or death caused by the negligence of a federal employee. The lawsuits were consolidated into multidistrict litigation in federal court as per state law. The Camp Lejeune litigation was still ongoing in 2018, and no trial date had been set for these first lawsuits.
During this time, the cleanup activities of the Navy included three removal actions at Site 6 (OU-2), UXO-01, and UXO-23. The remedy for Site UXO-19 was institutional controls to limit exposure to contaminated soil.
In 2012, Congress passed the Honoring America's Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act. This granted a series of benefits to the family members who were exposed to chemicals at Camp Lejeune. It also provided healthcare benefits to veterans who were on active duty at Camp Lejeune, as well as to their family members.
Furthermore, that year, President Obama signed the Janey Ensminger Act. This law, named after the daughter of a serviceman stationed at the camp who lost her life to cancer at 9 years old, authorizes medical care to military personnel and their family members who were stationed at Camp Lejeune and developed conditions linked to contamination. This law could apply to up to 750,000 people.
Between 2001 and 2009, the U.S. Navy led a pilot-scale treatability study using electrical resistance heating to clean up the areas containing dense non-aqueous phase liquid (DNAPL) and completed a removal action using low-level heat to destroy the contaminants in soil. Roughly 48,000 pounds of VOCs were removed from the soil during the study. The Navy completed cleanup at:
- OU-7 (Sites 1, 28, and 30)
- OU-4 (Sites 41 and 74)
- OU-16 (Site 93)
In January 2008, President George W. Bush signed the National Defense Authorization Act. This act included a requirement that the Department of the Navy, together with ATSDR, conduct a health survey of individuals possibly exposed to hazardous chemicals at Camp Lejeune.
Under the supervision of the EPA, the U.S. Navy began the cleanup at Camp Lejeune. During this period, it removed and disposed of the following from areas throughout the military base:
- contaminated soils
- above-ground storage tanks
- underground storage tanks
- waste liquids
The Navy also installed a bio-treatment cell for contaminated soil.
On October 4, 1989, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) listed Camp Lejeune and ABC One-Hour Cleaners as Superfund sites and added both to the National Priorities List.
Located in North Carolina, U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune was established in 1942. Although contamination with toxic chemicals began occurring at the military base after 1953, it was only in 1982 that specific volatile organic compounds (VOCs) were found lurking in the environment of the installation by the Marine Corps.
Perchloroethylene (PCE) is another hazardous chemical that was present at Camp Lejeune, posing a serious risk of developing terrible diseases to everyone stationed there. It was eventually discovered that the source of contamination with PCE was the waste disposal practices of ABC One-Hour Cleaners, a dry-cleaning firm situated off-base.
In May 1982, the highest trichloroethylene (TCE) level detected at Camp Lejeune was 1,400 parts per billion (ppb) when the safe limit is just 5 ppb. The maximum level of PCE detected at Camp Lejeune was 215 ppb in February 1985, when the safe limit is also 5 ppb. Other dangerous chemicals found polluting the military base are benzene and vinyl chloride. Contamination with TCE and benzene was the result of years of improper use and disposal of chemicals on the military base employed for cleaning weapons and equipment.