Military Veterans and Families Harmed at Camp Lejeune Have New Rights
By: Cohen, Placitella & Roth @ Oct 20, 2022
On August 10, 2022, President Joe Biden signed the Honoring our Pact Act which created rights for those stationed at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days between 1953 and 1987 who suffered any one of a variety of illnesses from contaminated water at the base.
“I am urging veterans of those decades of war to promptly file for your claims,” President Biden said at the White House signing. “The VA will move as quickly as possible to resolve your claim and get you the benefits and the care you have earned.”
Who is Eligible?
This new law allows anyone who was exposed to the toxic Camp Lejeune water from 1953 to 1987 (for at least 30 days) to bring a claim for injuries caused by such exposure. This includes Marines, their family members, civilian employees, and anyone else who was exposed.
How is Our Firm Different From Every Other Law Firm Seeking to Represent You?
Unlike many law firms advertising their ability to represent you, We have been representing members of military families who have been injured by environmental contamination for more than 40 years.
Our dedication to veterans is demonstrated not only in our legal representation but also in our work in the community where we dedicate our time and resources to assisting veterans and their families on a daily basis through organizations such as the Marine Corps Law Enforcement Foundation, the Veterans Transition Initiative, and Semper Fie Santa.
To further demonstrate our commitment to helping our military families, unlike most law firms that are charging families injured at Camp Lejeune 40 to 50% of any recovery, we made the decision to front all expenses and limit our fees to one-third of any recovery.
How Were Service Members Exposed?
Between August 1953 and December 1987 Marines, their families, and civilian workers stationed at Camp Lejeune were exposed to water that was contaminated with cancer-causing chemicals such as benzene, TCE (trichloroethylene), PCE (perchloroethylene), and vinyl chloride. These chemicals were found in two of the primary water treatment facilities on the base – Hadnot Point and Tarawa Terrace.
Effects of Contaminated Water
The chemicals found in the Camp Lejeune drinking water have been linked to many different cancers and illnesses including:
- Lung cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Breast cancer
- Colon cancer
- Kidney disease or cancer
- Bladder cancer
- Laryngeal cancer
- Myelodysplastic syndrome (“MDS” or aplastic anemia)
- Pancreatic cancer
- Rectal cancer
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Liver Cancer
- Parkinson disease
- Scleroderma/systemic sclerosis
- Multiple myeloma
- Possible birth defects
- Cardiac issues
- Neurobehavioral effects
Filing a Claim Will Not Affect Your VA Benefits
Filing a claim under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act (CLJA) will have no impact on your VA disability, widow, or medical benefits. Similar to any other injury lawsuit, the law does allow for any amount of VA disability or Medicare/Medicaid benefits related to the illness giving rise to the CLJA claim to be offset from any award or settlement; however, the government could agree to waive that offset when that time comes.
How Long Do We Have to File a Claim?
The law will only allow individuals who qualify to file claims for TWO YEARS from the date this bill was signed into law (August 10, 2022). So, that means that your claim must be filed no later than August 10, 2024. Any claim filed after the deadline could be subject to dismissal, so please do not wait to act!
What If a Potential Claimant Died Many Years Ago
Deceased individuals, regardless of how long ago they passed away, can also qualify for a claim through their estate’s personal representative. The Camp Lejeune Justice Act waives the statute of limitations defense, so a deceased’s family may still recover if the death was related to contaminated water. As with people who are still living any claim filed on behalf of a deceased individual must be filed within two years of August 10, 2022.
Where Will the Cases Be Filed?
First, each claim must be filed administratively with the Department of the Navy’s JAG office. If that office either denies the claim or fails to act on it within six months, it can then be filed only in federal court in the Eastern District of North Carolina. We are currently working with a law firm in North Carolina we trust has worked with for many years who will serve as our co-counsel at no additional fee.
Is This a Class Action Lawsuit?
No. This is an individual claim for you or your loved one. A class action involves a group of plaintiffs who have a similar injury. In this case, there are many different situations – some have died, some have become disabled, and some have recovered. Each of our client’s situations is unique and we treat them as such.
How Long Do These Cases Take?
We wish we knew! This is a brand new litigation based on a brand new statute, so there is naturally some uncertainty. Although our firm has litigated very similar occupational disease cancer cases before, nothing quite like the Camp Lejeune Justice Act has ever passed Congress. Once we begin to file our initial slate of cases, a judge gets assigned, and initial discussions are had with the Department of the Navy and Department of Justice, we will learn a great deal more. We are confident those agencies will work diligently to move these claims forward in as efficient a manner as possible.
Work With Our Firm For the Representation You Deserve
Our firm is dedicated to helping families and veterans harmed at Camp Lejeune. We know how difficult these times may be and we’re dedicated to helping you and your loved ones maximize your compensation and hold negligent parties accountable. This is an ever-evolving litigation and it’s crucial to stay up to date on your rights and options within this litigation. Contact our firm today to learn more.