The Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2021 was recently enacted by the U.S. Congress, allowing certain individuals to sue to recover damages for contaminated water at the Camp. Significantly, the Act prohibits the United States government from asserting specific immunity in response to lawsuits filed under its terms.
A Brief Overview of Camp Lejeune and its Water Contamination
Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina is a military training facility. It encompasses approximately 246 square miles and fourteen miles of beaches. Its location and land mass make it ideally suited for amphibious training and other training activities of a similar nature.
In 1982, it was discovered that Camp Lejeune’s drinking water contained volatile organic compounds (VOCs). In 1985, the most contaminated wells were shut down. This contamination began in the 1950s. These compounds have been linked to a number of debilitating diseases.
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) has assessed the health risks associated with this contaminated water and determined that up to one million individuals may have been exposed.
Requirements To Sue Under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act
On August 10, 2022, President Biden signed the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2021 into law. Due to the harm caused by contaminated water, the Act permits certain individuals to file lawsuits against the federal government.
The prerequisites for filing a lawsuit are:
- Between August 1, 1953 and December 31, 1987, you must have resided or worked at Camp Lejeune for a total of at least 30 days.
- You must be diagnosed with one of the following diseases (this list may be updated as additional research is conducted on the potential effects of contamination):
- Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML)
- Bladder cancer.
- Brain tumour
- Prostate cancer.
- Cancer of the Central Nervous System (CNS).
- Cervical cancer.
- Esophageal malignancy
- Lymphoma of Hodgkins
- Renal cancer
- Lung cancer
- Lung malignancy
- Syndrome of myelodysplastic transformation
- Multiple myeloma.
- Lymphoma non-Hodgkin.
- Ovarian cancer.
- Prostate cancer.
- Rectal cancer.
- Other Severe Illnesses
- Cardiac defect.
- Fatty liver illness (hepatic steatosis).
- Female Fertility Issues
- Kidney damage.
- Immune disorders.
- Nerve damage.
- Myelodysplastic disorders
- Neurobehavioral consequences
- Parkinson’s illness
- Kidney toxicity and disease
- You must first file a claim with the Department of the Navy under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA).
- If this claim is denied or six months pass without a decision, you may file a lawsuit in the Eastern District of North Carolina federal court.
Remember that you can still pursue compensation even if you have already received Veteran’s Administration benefits.
What Damages Could I Receive From a Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawsuit?
You can seek both economic and non-economic damages resulting from consuming or being exposed to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune.
Economic damages are monetary losses, including medical bills, out-of-pocket expenses, and diminished earning capacity.
Non-economic damages compensate you for your pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of life’s pleasures.
In Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuits, punitive damages are inapplicable.
How Much Time Do I Have To File My Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawsuit?
Generally, you will have two years from the date of the Act’s enactment, August 10, 2022, or 180 days after your FTCA claim has been denied, whichever is later.
Regarding this deadline, however, the Act contains potentially contradictory language. To be safe, you should submit your FTCA claim (which is required prior to filing a lawsuit) within 18 months of August 10, 2022.
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