In our previous blog, we provided you with a quick explainer about the Camp Lejeune Justice Act (“CLJA”) and how it became effective on August 10, 2022. If you have been following the news, you probably have seen or heard about this horrific toxic water contamination at Camp Lejeune and how can those injured by the contaminated water can seek compensation. Contacting an experienced law firm is crucial as you navigate this process to get help. Below are some key updates on the current litigation.
This federal court serves as the only authorized court that will hear any lawsuits involving the Camp Lejeune claims.
Initially, twenty-eight lawsuits were filed in the Eastern District of North Carolina. These first 28 cases were Camp Lejeune “legacy cases” – this means they were originally filed years ago, only to be dismissed in 2016 based on the application of the North Carolina statute of repose. A statute of repose is a law that cuts off legal rights after a certain time period has passed, even if an injury has not yet occurred. At the time, the lawsuits in the original multi-district litigation (“MDL”) were dismissed, there were nine hundred cases pending. The CLJA reset the time clock for those injured by exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune
Plaintiffs who had filed lawsuits in the earlier MDL had also previously submitted administrative claims before filing their cases. Accordingly, attorneys for these legacy case plaintiffs claimed their clients were not obligated to re-submit administrative claims and were therefore eligible to file a lawsuit right away in court. Unfortunately, the government responded by arguing the plaintiffs must again go through the administrative claims process. The court has yet to a determination on this basis.
On October 6, the first new Camp Lejeune lawsuit was filed in the Eastern District of North Carolina. This plaintiff did not previously file a lawsuit and thus is not a legacy case; however, he had submitted a claim with the Department of the Navy and had that claim rejected in January 2019 – in part due to the statute of repose, the same legal basis leading to the dismissal of the legacy cases.
We will continue to monitor the existing lawsuits as these will serve as testing ground for all future litigation involving Camp Lejeune victims. As these cases proceed in federal Court, we will be able to observe how the U.S. Department of Justice plans to handle these lawsuits and any settlement discussions. There have been no settlements of Camp Lejeune cases to date. We do not anticipate settlements any time soon; the government is just now adding staff and determining how to process claims internally. We expect it will take some time for the Department of the Navy to organize a system to evaluate each plaintiff’s individual claim.
If you missed our previous blog, below is some key information that may help you decide whether you or your loved one has a potential claim under the Camp LeJeune Justice Act-
WHO POTENTIALLY QUALIFIES?
If you are an individual, or legal representative of such individual, who resided, worked, or was otherwise exposed to water (including in utero exposure) at Camp LeJeune, NC, for at least 30 days during the period beginning on August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987, you may obtain appropriate relief if you were diagnosed with cancer or a serious illness that could be linked to water toxic contamination.
YOU OR YOUR LOVED ONE WERE AT CAMP LEJEUNE FOR 30 DAYS OR MORE BETWEEN AUGUST 1, 1953, AND DECEMBER 31, 1987. DO I HAVE A CASE?
In order to file a successful claim, you must have proof that you or your loved one suffered a medical condition related to contaminated drinking water exposure (i.e., a condition linked to the consumption of benzene, tetrachloroethylene, trichloroethylene, or vinyl chloride). This could be any of the cancers or other health conditions listed above or any other condition diagnosed as resulting from drinking contaminated water.
Among the health conditions that have been linked to Camp LeJeune toxic contamination are:
- Bladder cancer, breast cancer, liver cancer, kidney cancer, leukemia, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
- Birth defects
- Female infertility
- Hepatic steatosis
- Multiple myeloma
- Myelodysplastic syndromes
- Neurobehavioral effects
- Renal toxicity
- Parkinson’s disease
This list is not exhaustive. Other conditions have been linked to the contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune, and we encourage anyone who has been diagnosed with any health condition related to Camp Lejeune’s contaminated drinking water to speak with one of our attorneys about their legal rights.
CAN YOU FILE A LAWSUIT NOW?
Filing a suit right now may be premature and could prevent you from effectively recovering any damages. Under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, you must first file an administrative claim with the Department of the Navy before you can file a lawsuit. Filing a claim under the statute is indeed a prerequisite to filing the lawsuit. Also, you must file your lawsuit within two years from the date of the Act enactment (so no later than August 9, 2022), or within 180 days from the date the Department of the Navy denies your claim —whichever is longer. Currently, all individuals who were exposed to contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune still have time to file.
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO PROVE TO BE ELIGIBLE FOR FINANCIAL COMPENSATION UNDER THE CAMP LEJEUNE JUSTICE ACT?
To establish their eligibility for financial compensation, you or your loved one must have sufficient evidence of the link between your medical condition and exposure to contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune. The statute provides that claimants must present evidence that is either:
- “Sufficient to conclude that a causal relationship exists; or
- “Sufficient to conclude that a causal relationship is at least as likely as not.”
CAN YOU FILE YOUR CASE IN YOUR LOCAL COURT?
Under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, the exclusive Jurisdiction and Venue to file your case is the Eastern District of North Carolina. Therefore, it is essential you hire a law firm that is authorized to practice law in this district or can get permission from the Court to appear in this Court. Our law firm is proud to be fighting on behalf of multiple Camp LeJeune victims and we can File a Lawsuit on Your Behalf with the Court’s authorization and you can rely on our decades of combined relevant experience to help you win the compensation you deserve.
SPEAK WITH A LAWYER ABOUT YOUR RIGHTS UNDER THE CAMP LEJEUNE JUSTICE ACT
At Searcy Denney, you can speak with a water contamination lawyer about your rights under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act. Please contact us to arrange a free initial consultation. Contact us today!
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