Legal action related to Camp Lejeune water contamination can be an effective tool in holding government or corporation accountable. It can also help raise awareness and stimulate discussion around an issue.
New legislation passed and signed into law by President Biden allows victims to sue the US Government for damage recovery related to Camp Lejeune water contamination. Anyone who lived or worked at the Marine Corps base between 1953 and 1987 could be eligible for compensation.
1. Administrative Claims
For years, victims of Camp Lejeune water contamination struggled to get recognition and compensation from the federal government. They suffered a lack of care, medical treatment, financial hardship, and other consequences of exposure to toxic chemicals in their drinking water.
As many as one million people lived or worked on Camp Lejeune between August 1953 and December 1987, when the well water became contaminated with vinyl chloride VC, trichloroethylene TCE, and perchloroethylene PCE. These chemicals are known to be carcinogenic and were found in three primary water systems that served the base.
In June of 2022, the Honoring Our Pact Act was passed by the United States House of Representatives and Senate, circumventing a legal argument that could have prevented Camp Lejeune water contamination victims from seeking justice in court. The new law allows for veterans, active military members, and their families to file a lawsuit against the United States government for damages. This process begins with a federal tort claim, which a Camp Lejeune lawyer can help with.
2. Class Actions
For years, a dry cleaning business located near Camp Lejeune deposited wastewater containing organic solvents like tetrachloroethylene (PCE) into drains that supplied base water. PCE is a suspected carcinogen and used extensively by Marines for cleaning machinery.
The contamination put up to a million military service members, families and civilian workers at the North Carolina base at risk of severe health issues. The issue came to light in the 1980s, but it was too late for many victims.
The new law will allow victims to file lawsuits against the Navy and seek compensation for their maladies, including lost wages. A qualified attorney would review your medical records, the extent of your exposure to contaminated water and the impact on your life to put together what is known as a complaint. Once completed, it is filed with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, marking the official start of your legal case.
3. Administrative Hearings
From 1953 to 1987, millions of service members and family members residing at the Camp Lejeune Marine Corps base in North Carolina bathed in and drank water contaminated with chemicals ranging from 240 to 3400 times current safe levels. Many victims developed cancer and other health problems believed to have been caused by the contamination.
The contaminants found in the water included vinyl chloride (VC), trichloroethylene (TCE) and benzene, all of which are classified as carcinogenic by the Environmental Protection Agency. Exposure to these chemicals can also cause birth defects and a variety of other health issues.
After putting together what is known as a complaint, your lawyer would file it in the Eastern District of North Carolina. This marks the official start of your lawsuit against the Navy. In addition to addressing your legal claims, your attorney can help you file medical documentation that proves your condition or illness was caused by the contaminated Camp Lejeune water.
4. Class Action Trials
Thousands of former Marines and their families at Camp Lejeune bathed in and drank tap water that was contaminated with industrial solvents, such as Trichloroethylene (TCE), tetrachloroethylene (PCE), and vinyl chloride. These colorless chemicals are used for dry cleaning and metal degreasing, and they degrade to the chemical benzene in groundwater. Many former residents who became ill or died have questioned whether the Marine Corps and the Department of Navy took appropriate action, when they did take action, and whether information about the contamination was disclosed to them in timely ways.
Several federal inquiries have been conducted. These include the 2004 independent drinking water fact-finding panel chartered by the Marine Corps; a 2004 criminal investigation launched by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Criminal Investigation Division; and a 2005 Government Accountability Office review.