In November 2022, CBS News reported on a new law that could provide scope for several people, mostly Marines and their families, to initiate a lawsuit against the U.S. government regarding Camp Lejeune’s contaminated water. This law marks a profound shift for veterans and others who suffered ailments due to their service at the base.
Simply put, the Camp Lejeune Act, which was integrated into legislation in August, extends the coverage for toxic exposure ailments by the Department of Veterans Affairs (V.A.). It allows families residing at Camp Lejeune to pursue legal action. According to Navy reports, it has led to almost 14,000 claims.
The U.S. has officially identified that between 1953 and 1987, approximately a million civilians and veterans were potentially exposed to toxic chemicals due to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune. In specific areas, chemical levels surpassed safety standards by almost 400 times.
Bruno Teixeira, who stayed at the base for three months, shared that no one informed them about toxic chemicals. However, they noticed an unusual smell and taste in the water. Teixeira wasn’t a drinker or smoker, yet he suffered a stroke in 2015. His doctor blamed it all on the contaminated water.
The Department of Veterans Affairs internal watchdog revealed that approximately one-third of recent disability claims made by Camp Lejeune veterans were mishandled or wrongfully denied. Teixeira’s disability claim was rejected for not demonstrating “maximum exposure.” It is disheartening that the Subject Matter Expert hired by the V.A. never spoke to him or conducted a physical examination.
Senator Cory Booker expressed his sadness regarding such occurrences and further asserted that veterans deserve more than this.
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Camp Lejeune Cases: Government Asks Judges to Expedite Matters
In June 2023, Reuters highlighted that the U.S. Department of Justice had asked federal judges monitoring the mass litigation about the contaminated water in Camp Lejeune to speed up their initiatives. It will prove to be useful in managing legal cases that are going up in numbers with every passing day.
Lawyers representing the government in such lawsuits share that they need a comprehensive plan to manage legal cases collectively. It will be useful, especially when they have a certain deadline to maintain.
The Camp Lejeune lawsuits are expected to comprise one of the major mass litigations in history. Today, there are about 1,000 lawsuits filed in the Eastern District of North Carolina.
Back in April, the four judges presiding over legal cases in the Eastern District of North Carolina collectively issued an order that highlighted they want to use a consolidation process for managing the cases better. They further instructed the plaintiffs’ lawyers to submit their proposals, delineating how this consolidation can be put to work.
The deadline for submitting these plans was at the end of May. The court announced that till such time it received any objections, it would interview finalists for the leadership team sometime later.
Currently, these cases have been divided among the four judges in the court. Three of these judges have mutually agreed to temporarily extend timelines for their cases, allowing the court to evaluate a consolidation plan. However, the government informed that U.S. District Judge Terrence Boyle, one of the judges, has issued an order for his cases to proceed without delay.
Filing a Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawsuit
Residents of Marines Corps Base are certain to have some health hazards sooner or later, owing to the contaminated water.
In May 2023, the Military Times reported that family members and veterans exposed to the Camp Lejeune water contamination have a higher chance of developing Parkinson’s disease by 70% than others. It was mentioned in a study published in JAMA (the Journal of the American Medical Association).
The researchers were surprised to find that one out of every 370 troops assessed in the study exhibited symptoms of this brain disorder. The study shares the reason for developing Parkinson’s disease is due to exposure to trichloroethylene and other toxic organic compounds in water.
Residents of Camp Lejeune have often developed ailments like bladder cancer, cervical cancer, bladder cancer, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and other ailments. These residents can file a Camp Lejeune toxic water lawsuit to get compensated for their damages and suffering.
According to TorHoerman Law, the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, which is a component of the PACT act recently enacted by President Biden, empowers eligible victims to pursue legal recourse. Under the provisions of this act, victims are allowed to seek compensation for their claims. At the start, they can file an administrative claim with the Navy JAG or Tort Claims Unit. In case the claim stays unresolved, within six months, claimants have the choice to escalate the matter by filing a lawsuit in the US District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina.
However, at all points, the victims must keep their medical records in place so that their legal case becomes strong and they get the compensation they deserve.
The challenges and delays faced in Camp Lejeune lawsuits underscore the importance of taking necessary legal action. Individuals who fell sick due to the infected water at Marine Corps base deserve both justice and compensation. The Camp Lejeune Justice Act has provided a pathway for seeking resolution, allowing victims to file administrative claims and pursue litigation if needed.
However, the process has encountered obstacles and delays, including the need for efficient management of the growing number of cases. Despite these challenges, it is crucial to persevere to hold the responsible parties accountable and provide closure for the affected individuals and their families.