Making a “Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022” Claim
On August 10, 2022, President Biden signed the “Honoring our PACT Act,” which includes the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022. The new law creates a landmark remedy for individuals, particularly veterans and their surviving family members, who resided, worked, or were exposed to latent disease by water supplied by the United States at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987. As a longtime member of the American Association for Justice, I am proud that the AAJ worked hard to ensure that the language in the underlying bill could be enacted into law and to prevent hostile amendments and proposals from being added to the legislation. We celebrate the passage of this important bill to provide justice for veterans and their families, and we also thank all the veterans who have fought so hard for this legislation.
Why was the water at Camp Lejeune contaminated?
Water from the Tarawa Terrace water treatment plant was primarily contaminated by PCE (perchloroethylene or tetrachloroethylene). The source of the contamination was the waste disposal practices at ABC One-Hour Cleaners, an off-base dry-cleaning firm.
What health risks are associated with exposure to the contaminants at Camp Lejeune?
Contaminants in the drinking water at the Camp Lejeune likely increased the risk of:
• Cancers (kidney, multiple myeloma, leukemias, and others),
• Adverse birth outcomes, and
• Other adverse health effects of residents (including infants and children), civilian workers, Marines and Naval personnel at Camp Lejeune.
U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina was established in 1942. In 1982, the Marine Corps discovered specific volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the drinking water provided by two of the eight water treatment plants on base. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) used a data analysis and modeling approach to reconstruct historical contaminant concentrations. Using these approaches, ATSDR estimated that PCE concentrations exceeded the current EPA maximum contaminant level of 5 ppb in drinking water from the Tarawa Terrace water treatment plant for 346 months during November 1957-February 1987. The most contaminated wells were shut down in February 1985.
Water from the Hadnot Point water treatment plant was contaminated primarily by TCE (trichloroethylene). Other contaminants in the drinking water included PCE and benzene and TCE degradation products trans-1,2-DCE (t-1,2-dichloroethylene) and vinyl chloride. Supply wells were contaminated by multiple sources: leaking underground storage tanks, industrial area spills, and waste disposal sites. ATSDR modeled the contamination and estimated that at least one VOC exceeded its current EPA maximum contaminant level in drinking water during August 1953 and January 1985.
How are these claims being handled, and what are our fees?
We are accepting cases and offering legal representation to victims of the water contamination at Camp Lejeune. We expect that these claims will proceed under the Federal Tort Claims Act, which, by law, limits our attorneys’ fees to 25% of the gross recovery in settlement. However, because this is a new law, official information about the claims process is still being determined. As with all of cases, we work on a contingency basis, and if there is no recovery, there is no fee.