As many have become aware, the U.S. government has formally passed legislation recognizing that thousands of military veterans were exposed to dangerous chemicals in the drinking water at Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina during the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. This new law, the Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act (“PACT”), finally allows veterans with certain health conditions to apply for compensation due to exposure to the tainted water.
Background of Contamination at Camp Lejeune
In 1989, the Environmental Protection Agency and what is now the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality discovered a dangerously high level of the toxic industrial chemicals trichloroethylene (TCE) and perchloroethylene (PCE) in the soil and ground water near Camp Lejeune. PCE is a common dry-cleaning solvent. It was determined that the presence of the chemical in the water supply for the base was caused by a dry cleaner, ABC One-Hour Cleaners, inappropriately disposing its chemicals through its septic tank and by burying them on its property. The chemicals are known to cause or increase the risk of cancer and other serious health conditions when people ingest or are exposed to them.
VA Recognizes Veterans Harmed by Camp Lejeune Water Supply
After years of investigation and claims being brought by veterans, the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2012 finally established a connection between the contaminated Camp Lejeune drinking water and a number of cancers and medical conditions. The VA began awarding disability benefits for veterans exposed to the Camp Lejeune water supply from 1953-1987 who later developed (1) adult leukemia; (2) aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes; (3) bladder cancer; (4) kidney cancer; (5) liver cancer; (6) multiple myeloma; (7) Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma; and (8) Parkinson’s disease.
Congress Recognizes Contamination of Camp Lejeune Water with PACT Act of 2022
45 years after the chemicals were first discovered in the Camp Lejeune water system, Congress finally passed the PACT Act which was signed into law on August 10, 2022. The Act removes the statute of limitations and caps on damages for veterans and civilians who have been injured or died from the exposure to the chemicals in the water at Camp Lejeune. The Act requires a claimant or veteran to demonstrate that he or she was at Camp Lejeune for 30 days or more from August 1, 1953 – December 31, 1987 and that the person was exposed to the contaminated water supply.
What Happens Next for Veterans Exposed to Camp Lejeune
All claims for benefits under the PACT Act must be made to the Navy Judge Advocate General’s Office for determination before any lawsuit can be filed. All lawsuits must be filed in the United States District Court of the Eastern District of North Carolina, where Camp Lejeune is located. Because there is a 6-month waiting period after submission to the Navy, it is presently unknown how these cases will proceed.
SUGARMAN’s Experience with Toxic Tort Litigation
The Camp Lejeune lawsuits will be another example of mass tort litigation – litigation brought by a group of people who have suffered similar injuries as a result of a common problem. Other examples of these cases that SUGARMAN has helped its clients with include litigation brought relating to defective Stryker hip implants and ongoing litigation relating to defective 3M Dual-Ended Combat earplugs.
SUGARMAN personal injury attorneys are now investigating potential claims for veterans and civilians in Massachusetts who have been injured or died as a result of exposure to the dangerous chemicals in the Camp Lejeune water supply. If you or a loved one believe you may qualify, please contact us at 617-542-1000 or e-mail us at email@example.com.