For about 25 years, the residents of the military base Camp Lejeune were potentially exposed to industrial solvents, benzene, and other chemicals in their drinking water. In August 2022, President Biden signed the Camp Lejeune Act of 2021 (S.3373) into law allowing exposed military veterans to file civil lawsuits against the U.S. Government.
This act overrides a North Carolina statute of repose that precludes the filing of tort claims after 10years. After 35 years, victims can finally get compensation to help them treat their illnesses.
Who is eligible?
In 1953, ABC One Hour Dry Cleaner opened a few miles southeast of Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base. The dry cleaner dumped its wastewater through an on-site septic system contaminating water at two water treatment plants and surrounding groundwater. The camp was also used as a dumping ground for toxic chemicals. Despite ongoing water testing in the mid-to-late 1980s, residents still drank the water.
Veterans who resided at Camp Lejeune and were exposed to drinking water for more than 30days between August 1, 1953, to December 31, 1985, are possibly eligible for compensation. Complainants also must have had cancer or other health issues related to water contamination at Camp Lejeune.
Reports and testing timeline
In 1982, the Marine Corps found specific volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the water provided by two water treatment plants on the base. The most contaminated wells were shut down three years later. The water at Camp Lejeune was found to have 300x the safe limit of a toxic chemical that causes cancer. Chemicals found in the water were trichloroethylene (TCE), tetrachloroethylene (PCE), benzene, and vinyl chloride.
In 1989, the site was added to the National Priorities List. The NPL guides the EPA in determining which areas warrant further investigation. In 1997, a public health assessment determined ongoing health issues, including congenital health problems from maternal exposure. Various telephone studies were held along with further analysis to determine exposure-related ailments.
Laura Jones, wife of a former Marine and resident of Camp Lejeune from 1980 to 1983, filed her first lawsuit against the U.S. government over Camp Lejeune water contamination. She alleged that exposure to toxic chemicals caused her non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL). In 2011, Joel Shrinberg, an army clerk, filed suit with the federal government after he developed an otherwise rare form of breast cancer.
In November 2017, Andrew Straw filed a declaration with the federal government to have Camp Lejeune shut down, alleging his mother died of breast cancer she developed from contaminated water there. Straw has bipolar disorder, depression, social anxiety, severe migraines causing blindness, scoliosis, severe allergies, and sensitivity to light. His daughter also has scoliosis that Straw believes she developed from exposure.
Ailments tied to chemical compounds in tap water
Symptoms include headaches, lack of coordination, sensory disturbances, confusion, depression, tension, trouble concentrating, ADHD, slower reaction time, and brain damage.
Pregnant mothers at and near Camp Lejeune may also be entitled to compensation if their children suffer birth defects or other complications.
- Bladder cancer
- Breast cancer
- Esophageal cancer
- Female infertility
- Hepatic steatosis
- Kidney cancer
- Lung cancer
Qualifying health conditions:
- Multiple myeloma
- Myelodysplastic syndromes
- Neurobehavioral effects
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Renal toxicity
- Parkinson’s disease
Hiring a lawyer to help you make your claim
A lawyer will first be able to assess your eligibility and then help you with legal representation to navigate the red tape of filing a claim. Birth mothers should seek out a birth injury law firm to consult with a birth injury lawyer who is well-versed in the challenges of these cases. Veterans should seek out a veteran disability lawyer, again, to ensure their lawyer has expertise in their situation.
If you’re searching for “veterans disability lawyers near me” and are struggling to choose a personal injury attorney, LegalASAP can refer you to a lawyer with the required specialty and experience to ensure you get the benefits you deserve. Contact LegalASAP today for a free evaluation of your case.