Camp Lejeune Lawsuits: Potential Challenges Victims May Encounter

The Camp Lejeune water contamination incident is one of the worst environmental disasters in the country. For three decades from 1953 to 1987, the residents of the area were exposed to hazardous chemicals in toxic residential water supplies. Thousands of them suffered from diseases like cancer, infertility issues, and birth defects due to the exposure.

However, the event had more than environmental repercussions. It also led to legal disputes as victims sought compensation and justice from the government for the negligence of the local authorities. President Biden signed the Camp Lejeune Justice Act on August 10, 2022, enabling victims to sue the government for personal injury and wrongful death damages.

The passing of the Camp Lejeune Justice Act marked a transition in legal recourse for victims. With the number of lawsuits rapidly increasing, the U.S. Department of Justice has urged the respective judges to speed up their plan to ensure justice for victims. Still, the road is not easy for victims because they face several challenges when it comes to seeking the compensation they deserve.

In this article, we will highlight the key hindrances victims may encounter in Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuits.

Proving Causation

Proving causation is perhaps the toughest challenge Camp Lejeune victims may face. It requires establishing a clear link between the contamination and their health issues. According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), drinking water at Camp Lejeune contained high concentrations of tetrachloroethylene (PCE), trichloroethylene (TCE), vinyl chloride, and other toxins during the said period.

Exposure to these chemicals led to a risk of cancers (kidney, leukemias, multiple myeloma, and others), adverse birth outcomes, and other health effects among the residents. That being said, proving causation is easier said than done. The extended latency period between exposure and the manifestation of health problems is the primary reason for it.

The burden of proof is on plaintiffs, regardless of the evident suffering in this case. Legal experts recommend gathering robust medical evidence to establish a strong connection. Additionally, expert testimonies can enhance the strength of your claim. 

Statute of Limitations

Since the Camp Lejeune water contamination disaster dates back to the 1980s, the statute of limitations for these claims is not the same as for other personal injury claims. 

In this case, the statute of limitations is two years from the enactment of the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, or 180 days after the denial of the claim by the government, whichever is later. The rule is applicable to the claims accrued before the law was implemented. 

Besides the timelines, the latency period of certain illnesses may extend beyond typical statutes of limitations. For example, people suffering from cancer may learn about the disease several years after the time limit, depriving them of the justice they deserve. Fortunately, a strategic approach can help them overcome this challenge. They may argue for pursuing a claim according to the date of diagnosis rather than exposure.

Complications in Compensation 

Another challenge that victims may face while bringing a Camp Lejeune claim is complications in compensation. Quantifying damages for health issues is complex when they have long-term consequences. It requires foreseeing future medical expenses and implementing effective medical monitoring programs for ongoing surveillance.

The compensation amount includes the cost of medical treatment, wage losses, pain, and suffering, just as with any personal injury claim. According to TorHoerman Law, settlement amounts for these cases could range between $10,000 and $1,000,000. That seems a hefty amount but does not guarantee a bare minimum. 

However, the Camp Lejeune lawsuit payout per person may vary depending on the strength of the victim’s claim and the extent of the damage they suffer from. Hiring a seasoned lawyer is the best way to ensure the maximum possible compensation for a victim. 

Complexities of Class Action Lawsuits

According to estimates, more than a million residents at Camp Lejeune suffered exposure to contaminated water supplies during three decades between the early 1950s and the late 1980s. 

Statistics indicate that the toxic chemicals may have caused more than 50,000 breast cancer, 28,000 bladder cancer, and 24,000 renal cancer cases. Additionally, there are thousands of cases of birth defects, Parkinson’s disease, and other health complications.

As a result, a class action lawsuit is the next step. It seeks to pursue damages for individuals whose claim is denied, and they do not file their lawsuit by retaining a lawyer. While class action lawsuits aim to streamline legal processes, they entail complex legal technicalities. 

For example, managing the individual circumstances of victims, diverse health issues, and varied exposure levels presents significant challenges. However, seasoned lawyers can balance individual needs with the benefits of collective action.

Military Immunity and Feres Doctrine

The Feres Doctrine was initially a challenge for veterans who suffered due to Camp Lejeune‘s contaminated water. According to the Feres Doctrine, service members cannot sue the government for injuries sustained in the line of duty. However, things changed in 2022, with the passing of the Honoring Our PACT Act which included the Camp Lejeune Justice Act. 

Veterans and their families can now file claims and lawsuits seeking compensation for damages due to exposure to toxic water. All they need to do is find a lawyer who can present convincing arguments in court to ensure they get the justice they deserve.

Sovereign Immunity

Besides military immunity, sovereign immunity is another factor that may hinder the journey of Camp Lejeune victims. Since the lawsuit entails a claim against the government, plaintiffs may struggle to overcome sovereign immunity. It is a powerful legal protection shielding the federal and state governments from litigation.

The Camp Lejeune Justice Act changed everything and turned the situation in favor of victims by giving exceptions to the sovereign immunity defense. With this action, victims can hold the government responsible for gross negligence leading to toxin exposure for Camp Lejeune residents for decades.

In conclusion, Camp Lejeune contamination victims face several challenges as they seek justice and compensation for their suffering. However, these legal, procedural, and bureaucratic obstacles should not dissuade them from seeking what they deserve. Thankfully, the US government has taken a stand for victims with the CLJA. 

Hanzla Gul

My name is Muhammad Hanzla Gul and I'm the person behind the scenes. I hold a degree in Economics with a minor in Data Science, both of which have been instrumental in my research. Economics provided me with a deep understanding of how wealth is generated and distributed, while Data Science taught me how to analyze and interpret complex data sets - a crucial skill when estimating net worth. My passion for research and curiosity about successful individuals led me to create this website. As an author, I'm committed to delivering a unique perspective on the wealth of those who shape our world.

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