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Camp Lejeune Lawsuit Update – Dec. 2022

Thousands of Camp Lejeune water contamination claims have been filed since a new statute expanding medical benefits and services for veterans exposed to toxins was signed into law August 10, 2022. More specifically, thousands of Camp Lejeune water contamination administrative claims (as opposed to lawsuits) have been filed since the new statute was signed.

Camp Lejeune Lawsuits vs. Administrative Claims

Attorney Timothy Bearb, handling Camp Lejeune cases, explains:

“The new law provides that an administrative claim must be filed with the Department of the Navy before a claimant can proceed to a lawsuit.  That claim, if denied by the Navy, or left unresponded-to for six months, establishes the prerequisite necessary for the injured claimant to bring a lawsuit in the federal court for the Eastern District of North Carolina. Importantly, at this stage, the Navy has not begun the process of fully reviewing the claims or reviewing the records and evidence supporting such claims. The Navy explains they don’t yet have computer databases up and running which are sufficient to handle the large volume of records and documents that claimants will be required to provide. This ongoing process is expected to take months before claimants will begin to understand how the Navy will choose to treat their claims for compensation.”

The Honoring our PACT Act of 2022 took more than a year to make it all the way through the grueling legislative process. The Camp Lejeune Justice Act was inserted into the Honoring Our PACT Act.

Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Overview

More than a million military veterans, family members, workers, and others may have been exposed to toxins through contaminated water at Camp Lejeune. Anyone exposed to Camp Lejeune water from 1953 to 1987 who was later diagnosed with a particular cancer or another related injury may have legal recourse to recover damages.

Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawsuit Injuries

  • Bladder Cancer
  • Cervical Cancer
  • Hepatic Steatosis
  • Kidney Cancer
  • Lung Cancer
  • Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
  • Multiple Myeloma
  • Prostate Cancer
  • Other Cancers
  • Other Diseases
  • Other Injuries

The new law allows for veterans exposed to contaminated water at the Camp Lejeune Marine base in North Carolina to sue the government and recover damages.

The law allows compensatory damages to families of U.S. Marines stationed at Camp Lejeune. It’s for those who lived on the base and for civilians and staff members who worked there between 1953 and 1987 and later developed related injuries.

VA Benefits and Camp Lejeune Lawsuits

Those previously denied VA benefits connected with toxic exposure at Camp Lejeune may, with the new law, now have a chance at justice. One of the goals of the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 is to help those who were denied benefits in the past.

Therefore, previous VA denials do not bar one from filing a suit today.

In addition, those currently receiving benefits from The United States Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) still have a chance to recover damages that VA benefits don’t cover, such as pain and suffering and loss of income.

The Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 states:

“Any award made to an individual, or legal representative of an individual, under this section shall be offset by the amount of any disability award, payment, or benefit provided to the individual, or legal representative — under [the Secretary of Veteran Affairs, Medicare, and/or Medicaid].”

The law is structured so that one could be compensated for certain harms – physical, mental, financial – then reduce that amount by whatever the VA has paid that person in benefits.

The VA would not stop providing the benefits someone is already receiving.

Further, if VA benefits resulting from injuries which are in no way connected to the injuries sustained from Camp Lejeune water exposure, an offset may not apply.

Previous to this Act, legal options for Camp Lejeune water contamination victims have been very limited. In 2008, the VA created a “presumptive connection” for veterans stationed in Camp Lejeune between 1983 and 1987.

The Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 gives those injured by contaminated water at Camp Lejeune a chance to be compensated for their injuries.

Previous to this Act, legal options for Camp Lejeune water contamination victims have been very limited. In 2008, the VA created a “presumptive connection” for veterans stationed in Camp Lejeune between 1983 and 1987. The VA then recognized presumptive connections for eight conditions:

  • Parkinson’s disease
  • non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
  • MDS
  • multiple myeloma
  • bladder cancer
  • liver cancer
  • kidney cancer
  • Other health problems that might be connected to service at Camp Lejeune

 Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Causes

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) stated that Camp Lejeune’s water was contaminated by waste disposal practices at ABC One-Hour Cleaners, an off-base dry-cleaning business. Water contamination was caused by industrial area spills, underground storage tanks leaking, and waste disposal sites.

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