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Camp Lejeune Water Contamination

For over 30 years, Marines and families stationed at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune were exposed to harmful industrial chemicals in their drinking water. Numerous types of cancer, Parkinson’s disease, birth defects, female infertility, and other health conditions have been linked to these contaminants.

After years of denying justice to those harmed by the toxic water, in August of 2022 “Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022” was signed into law, finally allowing those who have been injured to file an administrative claim and ultimately a lawsuit for damages.

If you or a loved one lived or worked at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune for at least thirty (30) days between 1 August 1953 and 31 December 1987 and have been diagnosed with or experienced a qualifying medical condition, you may be entitled to financial compensation.

Click below to determine your eligibility for the lawsuit.

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MARINES DEFENDING MARINES

Military Justice Attorneys (MJA) is a veteran owned and operated law firm that focuses on representing active-duty service members and veterans in administrative, criminal, and civil matters related to their military service.

At MJA, ALL our attorneys were active-duty Marines. And so were our brothers, uncles, grandfathers, and closest friends. We, too, had family members stationed at Camp Lejeune during the affected period who drank the water. To us, this is personal. MJA understands what it means to be a Marine and will aggressively fight to get Marines and their loved ones the treatment or recovery they deserve.

CAMP LEJEUNE JUSTICE ACT

The “Camp Lejeune Justice Act”, contained within the larger PACT Act (Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act),  creates a federal cause of action for those injured by contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

The Camp Lejeune Justice Act allows any individual, veteran, or their legal representative to file a claim and bring an action against the United States for damages. The bill prohibits the Government from asserting immunity and requires the claimant to prove that contaminated water caused their injuries.

All claims for damages due to exposure to contaminated water at Marine Corps Camp Lejeune must be filed within 2 years after the bill becomes law.

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ELIGIBILITY TO FILE A CLAIM

To be eligible for a claim you must have:

  1. Lived or worked at Camp Lejeune or MCAS New River between August 1953 and December 1987 (The areas potentially affected cover all of Camp Lejeune including Camp Geiger, Camp Johnson/Montford Point, Tarawa Terrace, Holcomb Boulevard, Paradise Point, Hadnot Point, Onslow Beach, MCAS New River, Stone Bay Rifle Range, and Camp Lejeune Greater Sandy Run – See Benefit Coverage Area chart below).
  2. Lived or worked there at least thirty (30) cumulative days during that period. (This includes but is not limited to Marines permanently stationed at Camp Lejeune. For example, Marines who attended Marine Combat Training (MCT) at Camp Lejeune for more than 30 days may also qualify. Those who were “exposed” during contaminated water (including in utero exposure) may also qualify);
  3. Have been diagnosed with or experienced a qualifying medical condition (listed below). 
  4. Are NOT currently represented by an attorney.Camp Lejeune Disability Benefit Coverage Area Map

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QUALIFYING MEDICAL CONDITIONS

The VA had identified a number of presumptive conditions known to be related to the toxic water at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. These are:

  • Adult leukemia
  • Aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes
  • Bladder cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Multiple myeloma (cancer in the white blood cells / plasma cells)
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Parkinson’s disease

The VA has also identified a larger list of conditions which may also receive coverage. This list includes:

  • Bladder cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Female infertility
  • Hepatic steatosis (fatty liver disease)
  • Kidney cancer
  • Leukemia
  • Lung cancer
  • Miscarriage
  • Multiple myeloma (cancer in the white blood cells / plasma cells)
  • Myelodysplastic syndromes
  • Neurobehavioral effects
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Renal toxicity
  • Scleroderma (systemic sclerosis)

It’s important to note the VA benefits and VA healthcare are different from claims filed under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act for financial damages. You do not need to hire a lawyer or file a lawsuit to get VA benefits, including VA benefits related to Camp Lejeune. You should consult an attorney if you are pursuing an administrative claim or lawsuit in federal court under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act.

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HISTORY OF CONTAMINATED DRINKING WATER AT CAMP LEJEUNE

In the 1980s, dangerous contaminants were found in several wells that provided drinking water to the residents of Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. These contaminants, listed below, leaked into the water from on-base storage tanks and industrial activities, and an off-base dry cleaner. The primary contaminants identified include:

  • Benzene,
  • Tetrachloroethylene (PCE),
  • Trichloroethylene (TCE),
  • Trans-1,2-dichloroethylene (DCE), and
  • Vinyl chloride. 

Benzene found in groundwater often indicates contamination from refined petroleum products (e.g., gasoline, jet fuel, diesel fuel). PCE, another common groundwater contaminant, is a chemical widely used for dry cleaning fabrics and for metal degreasing operations. According to a Public Health Assessment conducted in 2017, “TCE and vinyl chloride were the chemicals that contributed most to the increased risk of cancer.”

Researchers identified the contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune in 1980 at the Hadnot Point and Tarawa Terrace water treatment plants. In February 1985, the base shut down the Tarawa Terrace’s two most contaminated wells and closed the Tarawa Terrace water treatment plant altogether in March 1987.

The contamination of the Hadnot Point system was particularly complex. Multiple sources of pollutants have been identified, including an industrial area, a drum dump, a transformer storage lot, an industrial fly ash dump, an open storage pit, a former fire training area, a site of a former on-base dry cleaner, a liquids disposal area, a former burn dump, a fuel-tank sludge area, and the site of the original base dump.

It is estimated that nearly 1 million people were exposed to the unsafe drinking water at Camp Lejeune from 1953-1987. This includes children living on-base, civilian employees who worked on-base, Marines permanently stationed there or in training, and dependent spouses. The contaminated drinking water could have adversely affected pregnant women and their babies, in particular, as “women in the first trimester of pregnancy are one of the most sensitive populations for exposure to TCE.”

AREAS OF EXPOSURE TO UNSAFE WATER AT CAMP LEJEUNE

Hadnot Point and Tarawa Terrace water treatment plants were in use at Camp Lejeune as early as 1953. It is believed the water contamination issue could have begun that year and lasted until 1987 when the water treatment plants were replaced, upgraded, or decommissioned. Anyone who lived on Camp Lejeune between 1953 and 1987 and for longer than 30 days might have been significantly exposed to unsafe drinking water that can cause cancer.

Both contaminated water treatment plants served enlisted-family housing, barracks for unmarried service personnel, base administrative offices, schools, and recreational areas. The contaminated water treatment plants are known to supply water to these areas of the base:

  • Berkeley Manor
  • Hospital Point Family Housing
  • Knox Trailer Park
  • Mainside Barracks
  • Midway Park Family Housing
  • Paradise Point
  • Tarawa Terrance Family Housing

The Hadnot Point water system also served the base hospital and an industrial area and supplied water to housing on the Holcomb Boulevard water system (full-time until 1972 and periodically thereafter).

The primary “exposure” former residents and workers had to harmful contaminants came from drinking the water. However, other activities involving hot water could have also created an exposure because TCE and PCE (and other solvents) can evaporate into the air (volatilize) when present in hot water used for bathing, showering, or washing dishes or clothing and can then be inhaled.

The duration of exposure, which is the length of time a person is exposed, will be extremely important to any claim brought under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act. It can be expected that individuals who were permanently stationed, working, or living on Camp Lejeune had greater exposure than Marines who were only assigned to Camp Lejeune for a short duration for mandatory training.  

Many Marine veterans and their families who were exposed to unsafe water at Camp Lejeune and have received a severe illness diagnosis have already begun filing tort claims and lawsuits for fair compensation.   
 

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DON’T LISTEN TO THE BARRACKS LAWYERS

“Barracks lawyers” on Facebook have been working overtime since the Camp Lejeune Justice Act was signed into law. Like the barracks lawyers you remember from active duty (salty Lance Corporal types who had been busted down multiple times and would offer “legal advice” at the smoke pit), many of the folks posting so passionately online have no legal training and have never even read the Camp Lejeune Justice Act.

MJA has devoted its entire law practice to representing active-duty service members and veterans and is committed to dispelling misinformation surrounding the Camp Lejeune Justice Act. Here are some of the most common myths currently surrounding the Camp Lejeune Justice Act:

  • Is this a scam? No, it’s not a scam. The Camp Lejeune Justice Act is a real law that waives sovereign immunity and creates a federal cause of action to allow qualified individuals to file a claim and ultimately a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina.
  • Can’t I just file with the VA to get the same benefits? No, the Camp Lejeune Justice Act is not about VA benefits. The Camp Lejeune Justice Act goes beyond VA benefits and creates a federal cause of action to allow injured parties to bring a claim and ultimately a federal lawsuit for monetary damages in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina. MJA encourages anyone who believes they may be injured to file a claim with the VA for benefits. However, please understand that the Camp Lejeune Justice Act creates a separate avenue for relief by allowing injured parties to bring an action in federal court.  
  • Has there been a Camp Lejeune Justice Act Settlement? No, there has not been any large-scale settlement agreement as of June 2023. Individuals impacted by contaminated water must bring a federal claim and/or lawsuit where they prove causation of their injuries and damages.
  • Why would I hire an attorney? Can’t I just file through the VA or DAV? Veteran services organizations are a great resource for those who simply wish to apply for VA healthcare benefits. That is not, however, the purpose of the Camp Lejeune Justice Act. Attorneys in this litigation will be responsible for investigating claims, obtaining military and medical records, identifying other supporting evidence, engaging medical and scientific experts to evaluate potential claims and prove causation, calculating individual damages, filing tort claims, and ultimately filing and trying civil lawsuits in federal court. Attorneys can also look at your individual case to determine what, if any, impact a recovery could have on other disability awards, payments, or benefits. MJA is not aware of any veteran service organization that will be filing federal lawsuits for damages under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022. 

For more common myths, check out our blog “Camp Lejeune Justice Act FAQs: Debunking the Barracks Lawyers.

MARINES DEFENDING MARINES

This is not simply ANOTHER CASE for MJA. As with any mass tort litigation, if you have spent even a few minutes on Facebook or Google you have already been bombarded with advertisements from big name plaintiffs’ firms who specialize in mass tort litigation. Most of these attorneys never served in the military and certainly don’t know what it means to be a Marine. To them, this is just another case. No different than a hip implant litigation or hernia mesh lawsuit.

But to us, it’s different.

At MJA, ALL our attorneys were active-duty Marines. And so were our brothers, fathers, uncles, grandfathers, and closest friends. We understand what service and sacrifice mean and live by the motto: Semper Fidelis. It is for that reason that our entire law practice centers on representing active-duty service members and veterans. This is at the heart of who we are and what we do. We have served military service members before this litigation and will serve them after. As Marines ourselves, MJA will work tirelessly on your behalf.

If you or a loved one lived or worked at Camp Lejeune or MCAS New River between 1 August 1953 and 31 December 1987 and have been diagnosed with or experienced a qualifying medical condition, contact us today to determine if you are eligible to file a claim or lawsuit.

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You May Be Eligible to file a Camp Lejeune Toxic Water Lawsuit

If you or a loved one were stationed at Camp Lejeune between August 1, 1953 and December 31, 1987 fill out the form below to see if you qualify.

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