On August 10, 2022, the President signed into law an act passed by Congress which could enable hundreds of thousands of persons to bring claims against the federal government.
People who were present at Camp Lejeune for a period of at least thirty (30) days between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987, may be entitled to compensation.
Camp Lejeune is a United States Marine Corps base located in Jacksonville, North Carolina. The federal government built Camp Lejeune beginning in 1941. Since then, marines and sailors have trained at and launched military operations from the coastal base situated on the eastern United States seaboard. The base is also home to thousands of marine and sailor families. According to the government, the base is home to about 170,000 people.
The United States military provides services for families at Camp Lejeune including housing, childcare, shopping, education, family support, dining, and recreation. On-base facilities include banks and credit unions, a food hall, library, shops, fitness centers, theaters, and more. Families of personnel living on base lead day-to-day lives that are very similar to other Americans. They consume and use water provided on the base for a variety of critical purposes.
Between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987, three water distribution systems at Camp Lejeune—those at Hadnot Point, Tarawa Terrace, and Holcomb Boulevard—became contaminated with toxic pollutants. These pollutants are known to cause serious diseases. It is believed that many persons who drank, bathed in, or otherwise consumed water at Camp Lejeune between 1953 and 1987 contracted diseases including cancers that caused their deaths.
The new law entitles anyone who was sickened by Camp Lejeune water to bring a claim for damages. A person must be able to prove two things to become entitled to compensation.
First, a person must prove that one was present at Camp Lejeune for a cumulative of thirty days between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987. The thirty days do not have to be consecutive.
Second, one must show that exposure to contaminated water caused the person to develop:
- Adult leukemia;
- Aplastic anemia and other myelodsysplastic syndromes;
- Bladder cancer;
- Kidney cancer;
- Liver cancer;
- Multiple myeloma;
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma;
- Parkinson’s disease.
Anyone who was present on Camp Lejeune between 1953 and 1987 for a total of thirty days and who has suffered from one of the diseases listed above may be entitled to compensation. Service members, families of service members, contractors, vendors, and visitors may have all been exposed and may have suffered injury as a result of the exposure.
The government has established that contaminated water presumptively caused the list of conditions above. Persons who have contracted other conditions as a result of exposure can still bring claims. They will have to prove that their illnesses were as likely as not caused by exposure.
If you or someone you know believes you may have been sickened as a result of exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune between 1953 and 1987, the best thing you can do is call Arnold & Smith, PLLC at (704) 370-2828 and let our professionals help you determine whether you have a viable claim.
Our professionals can assist you in assembling the necessary evidence and filing the necessary forms to ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve.
The claims process for persons who have passed away as a result of Camp Lejeune water contamination is very similar to the process in any so-called “wrongful death” case. Since a deceased person, for obvious reasons, lacks the capacity to bring a lawsuit, a friend or family member of the person can be appointed to administer the deceased person’s property and affairs. This person is called an “administrator,” and the process of handling a deceased person’s property and affairs is known as “probating an estate.”
Thus, when a deceased person possesses a legal cause of action—for example, when a person killed in a motor-vehicle accident has a negligence action against the at-fault driver—that cause of action belongs to the deceased person’s estate. It is the administrator of the estate’s responsibility to bring a negligence lawsuit to recover the damages to which the estate of the decedent is entitled for the wrongful death of the decedent.
The process described above will be employed to bring claims on behalf of deceased persons whose deaths were caused by exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune.
The new law provides a two-year window, extending from August 10, 2022, until August 10, 2024, during which persons with otherwise time-barred claims can bring actions.
Legal actions must be brought within specified timeframes, or else persons lose their rights to pursue claims. In North Carolina, personal injury actions must be brought within three years of injury, and wrongful death actions must be brought within two years of death.
Those normal deadlines are altered by the new law. As long as a person spent thirty or more days at Camp Lejeune between 1953 and 1987 and became sickened by exposure to contaminated water, the person has a claim—even if the person died years… even decades… ago. For a two-year period from August 10, 2022, until August 10, 2024, those persons or their estates, where appropriate, may bring claims.
Arnold & Smith, PLLC Is the Right Choice for Pursuing Camp Lejeune Claims
Arnold & Smith, PLLC, with four offices in three counties, handles claims throughout the State of North Carolina. Our attorneys are well-versed in the local rules of practice and procedure governing claims brought in the Eastern District of North Carolina.
The Federal District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina is, by law, the venue for all claims relating to Camp Lejeune water contamination. Arnold & Smith’s attorneys have litigated numerous cases in the Eastern District, including jury trials, appeals, and ancillary litigation related to civil and criminal cases. Experience counts, and we are experienced litigators in the Eastern District.
If you or someone you know has a potential Camp Lejeune water contamination case, call Arnold & Smith, PLLC today at (704) 370-2828 for a free consultation. We can assist you in determining whether you have a viable claim, what evidence you will need, and how to best go about the process of securing the compensation you deserve. Call us today!