Water sources at the United States Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina have been seriously contaminated for decades. People who served, lived, or worked at Camp Lejeune between 1953 and 1987 have likely been exposed to unsafe water, which could significantly heighten their risks of certain diseases and cancers. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHS) cautiously estimates that at least one million people between those years could have consumed or used the contaminated water, resulting in various illnesses, birth defects, and wrongful deaths.
The government recently approved a bill – the PACT Act – to allow military service members, veterans, contractors, and their families who spent time at Camp Lejeune to seek compensation by filing injury lawsuits. If you or a loved one stayed at Camp Lejeune between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987, then you might have a claim to compensation and justice. Let’s review some basic yet important information about the situation before you jump to legal action.
Illnesses & Cancers Caused by Camp Lejeune Water
There is a long list of illnesses and cancers that have been linked to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune. To have a valid Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuit and/or seek medical benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), you will need to have been diagnosed with one of those illnesses, diseases, or cancers.
Camp Lejeune water contamination exposure has been linked to the following risks and more:
- Bladder cancer
- Cardiac birth defects
- Breast cancer
- Esophageal cancer
- Liver cancer
- Lung cancer
- Multiple Myeloma
- Higher risk of birth injury
- Higher risk of miscarriage
- Kidney cancer
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Parkinson’s disease
- Prostate cancer
- Scleroderma or systemic sclerosis
Please be reminded that this list is not comprehensive. There are many more illnesses that have been directly linked to the unsafe water at Camp Lejeune. To find out if your illness or cancer qualifies you to file a Camp Lejeune lawsuit, you should contact a Camp Lejeune lawsuit attorney like the professionals that you can find at Hoyt & Blewett PLLC.
How Camp Lejeune Water Became Contaminated
An independent examination of the water sources at Camp Lejeune was conducted after decades of military service members, contractors, and on-camp residents complained of the water quality. The study found that two water treatment plants—Tarawa Terrace Water Treatment Plant and Hadnot Point Water Treatment Plant—had likely been contaminated with various volatile organic compounds (VOCs) since the sites were commissioned. Although it has not been definitively concluded, it appears that the water treatment plants became contaminated by chemical storage and use problems, both on the campgrounds and adjacent properties. Specifically, Tarawa Terrace seems to have been most contaminated by chemicals used to dry clean fabrics, and Hadnot Point seems to have been most contaminated by chemicals used to degrease metal parts.
Camp Lejeune Legal Battles
The recent surge in legal action taken against the government for Camp Lejeune’s failure to protect its service members and residents from the contaminated water is not the first. For decades, affected veterans and their families have been fighting to get justice and compensation for the harm that they have suffered due to unsafe Camp Lejeune water sources. Time and again, the claims were challenged, and progress ground to a halt.
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act, which is part of the larger PACT Act, signed by President Joe Biden in August 2022 changed everything, though, and for the better. Thanks to the details included in the act, veterans, contractors, and their families who spent time at Camp Lejeune can finally take legal action and seek deserved compensation that was not provided through VA benefits.
Importantly, the PACT Act includes two specific mandates:
- The government loses the ability to use certain defense strategies that are commonly used in toxic exposure lawsuits and class action lawsuits.
- The usual statute of limitations on toxic exposure claims is lifted for a brief two-year lookback window, so you can file a claim even if you or a deceased loved one last spent time at Camp Lejeune in 1953.
Camp Lejeune Eligibility
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act opens lawsuit eligibility to anyone who spent time at Camp Lejeune between 1953 and 1987. You do not need to be a military veteran to file a claim. Military contractors who worked at Camp Lejeune and the family members of veterans who served at Camp Lejeune can also file a claim. Even people who were born with birth defects can file a claim if their mother spent time at Camp Lejeune while pregnant.
Eligibility is also dependent on:
- Claimant’s diagnosis of a disease, illness, or cancer linked to Camp Lejeune water contamination; and,
- Claimant’s ability to show that at least 30 days (not necessarily consecutive) were spent at Camp Lejeune between 1953 and 1987.
Please note that you do not lose eligibility to file a Camp Lejeune lawsuit if you also filed for VA benefits related to your water contamination-linked illness. If the VA told you that you can’t file a claim because you received benefits already, then you should speak to an attorney immediately.
Legal Help for Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Claimants
Hoyt & Blewett PLLC proudly offers our legal services to the veterans and their families who spent time at Camp Lejeune and were exposed to contaminated water. If you think you have a Camp Lejeune lawsuit to file, then find out for certain by dialing (406) 233-1302.