The water contamination at Camp LeJeune stands as a time when our nation failed its troops and veterans. Thousands of people are sick as a result of exposure to toxic chemicals at this Marine training base in North Carolina, and they deserve to be taken care of for their suffering. The government is about to pass a law that can finally help those in need, but you must act quickly if you want to win justice for you and your family.
George Sink, PA Injury Lawyers is waiting to hear from you with dedicated Camp LeJeune lawsuit lawyers who will work tirelessly to negotiate the maximum amount of compensation possible. Medical bills and other expenses that have piled up over the years of your illness can be covered if you meet just a few criteria for filing a lawsuit. Our skilled attorneys will guide you through your case, from start to finish.
Call or contact our office today to discuss your case and schedule a free consultation.
The Discovery of Water Contamination at Camp LeJeune
In addition to training troops, Camp Lejuene also hosts research laboratories that develop numerous methods for advancing warfare techniques. In the early years of the facility, the results of these experiments often included toxic and radioactive waste products. These products were frequently put into large, sealed containers and then buried in the ground on the property.
When these practices first began, officials at the base did not know that the containers could leak these dangerous chemicals into the surrounding soil and water. The effects of this waste disposal method first became evident in 1980 when a new parking facility was being constructed where a former research lab burned down. Construction work revealed the containers, which were labeled “Radioactive Poison.”
Military records indicated that this disposal activity had been occurring since at least the 1950s.
In 1980, new regulations enacted by the EPA required the military to begin testing all their facilities for toxic chemicals. Results of March 1981 tests at Camp LeJeune showed very high levels of contamination in the water at the base. Testing on two of the eight water treatment plants showed that the drinking water contained toxic chemical contaminants at levels between 240 and 3400 times those permitted by federal safety standards.
Chemical Contaminants Found at Camp LeJeune
The main chemicals found in the drinking water at Camp Lejuene were:
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
Trichloroethylene (TCE) and perchloroethylene (PCE) are chemicals often found in dry cleaning solutions. They are also used to clean metal machine components. These VOCs are solvents, meaning they dissolve easily in air or water and evaporate quickly.
They are responsible for the “dry cleaning smell” you may notice when you have your clothes professionally cleaned.
Benzene is a colorless liquid that evaporates into the air quickly. It dissolves in water less easily and has a sweet odor. It is often used to make products such as nylon, plastics, and synthetic fibers.
Benzene is also included in rubber, pesticides, and detergents. It can be found naturally in gasoline, crude oil, and wood ash.
Vinyl Chloride (VC)
Vinyl chloride is a gas that is colorless when at room temperature. It can be made liquid by placing it at very low temperatures or putting it under very high pressure. VC dissolves in water and only forms when chemicals such as TCE and PCE break down.
Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is a component of many common plastic products; VC is used to make PVC.
How Were People Exposed to the Chemicals?
The ground in and around Camp LeJeune is composed of sandy loam, meaning that it is especially permeable and absorbent. Chemicals that left the buried waste containers moved into the groundwater, which took them into the numerous wells on the land. In addition to ending up in the drinking water, the chemicals also traveled through the soil into the land under and around the many buildings on the base. The water often evaporated into the air inside the buildings, where the toxic chemicals would remain trapped for long periods.
Residents of the camp were exposed to contaminants in both the water and the air for essentially every minute of the day and night. Extreme heat and humidity in the summer months meant the water vapor was heavier and, thus likely more dangerous. The coastal area of North Carolina experiences long periods of warm weather, so residents of the base suffer exposure for most of the year.
Because of the long duration of the contamination period and the rotation of troops and their families through the facility, estimates place the number of people who were endangered at approximately 750,000. There is evidence indicating the military attempted to hide information about these contaminants from the people living at Camp LeJeune and the public. It ignored the dangerous reports for years before finally beginning cleanup efforts.
Marines trained at this facility serve around the world. They and their families are suffering illnesses that should have been prevented. If you are one of those affected, you need the Camp LeJeune lawsuit attorneys at George Sink, PA Injury Lawyers to help you receive fair compensation.
Illnesses Linked to Camp LeJeune Water Contamination
Because the water at Camp LeJeune was used for every part of the lives of both troops and their families, anyone who lived or worked at the base for as much as 30 days was exposed. Water was used for drinking, bathing, food preparation, dishwashing, and washing clothes. This means that not only can service members pursue justice for their illnesses, but so can their families and the civilian employees who worked there.
There are many illnesses and medical conditions associated with exposure to the toxic chemicals found on the base. They include:
- Autoimmune diseases
- Bladder cancer
- Congenital disabilities
- Breast cancer
- Liver cancer
- Lung cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Multiple myeloma
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Reproductive abnormalities
- Parkinson’s disease
The Camp LeJeune Justice Act of 2021 (CLJA)
Several individuals have pursued lawsuits for compensation regarding their exposure to the contaminated water at Camp LeJeune. Past efforts have been very frustrating and left victims with no recourse. In March 2021, the Camp LeJeune Justice Act (the CLJA) was introduced in the United States House of Representatives to allow those affected by this tragedy to file claims for restitution.
The CLJA passed the House in early 2022 and is currently awaiting approval in the US Senate. It must then proceed to the President’s desk to be signed into law. The current language of the bill (which is subject to deliberation and change in the Senate) will require plaintiffs to file their lawsuits within two years after the bill goes into effect. Claimants will also need to have proof they were exposed for at least 30 days at the Camp LeJeune site between the years 1953 and 1987.
Damages You Can Seek in a Successful Camp LeJeune Lawsuit
Those who wish to pursue a Camp LeJeune lawsuit will need to provide proof that their illness is connected to exposure at the training base. This requires documentation from doctors and other medical providers establishing that there are no other significant causes for your disease. Providing this link, along with proof of your residency or work at the base between 1953 and 1987, will allow you to seek various damages.
Legal damages fall into two main groups: economic and non-economic. When you have a receipt or bill showing a defined dollar amount for something, it falls into the economic category, which includes:
- Medical bills
- Hospital costs, including ER, ICU, and surgeries
- Home health care
- Assisted living facility costs
- Medical devices
- Speech or hearing therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Changes to your home to accommodate disabilities
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning potential
- Travel for medical treatment
- Projected future medical expenses
Non-economic damages cover the pain and suffering you experience, including:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional pain and suffering
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Mental anguish
- Loss of society
When you work with a qualified Camp LeJeune lawsuit attorney, you will have help calculating the full value of your claim. Our experienced team knows how to act quickly and powerfully for you. They will help you estimate future expenses so you can pursue the maximum compensation you and your family deserve to heal.
How to File a Camp Lejuene Lawsuit
There are several steps you can take now to prepare for a Camp Lejuene lawsuit. It starts with contacting a dedicated lawyer who will listen to your story and investigate the case to build a solid foundation. Our attorneys will gather evidence and work with resources to ensure your claim is up-to-date as the legal environment changes around the CLJA.
Some key actions you can perform to be ready are:
- Collect all your medical records and receipts into a single folder.
- Ask your medical providers for any documents you are missing from the past.
- Write down the days you received treatment.
- Write down the number of miles you traveled for care.
- Keep a pain journal to document how you are feeling.
- Avoid speaking about your plans to file a lawsuit with anyone but your lawyer.
- Avoid posting on social media about your plans.
- Avoid speaking to anyone about your plans who likes to post on social media.
- Share all your collected information with your lawyer.
If your illness was long ago or has lasted a long time, it can be challenging to estimate things such as the miles you traveled or how you felt during treatment. It is essential to try your best to put it in writing so our team can help you create a complete picture of your suffering and expenses. Our lawyers will gather all available evidence about the coverup of the contamination, as well as testimony from medical experts about how your illness is linked to your exposure.
There could be so many lawsuits filed when the CLJA passes that they may be consolidated into a single multi-district litigation (MDL) suit. This means the cases will be presented to an MDL panel that decides whether to grant a request to create an MDL class-action lawsuit. If this happens, our lawyers will be ready to guide you through how this will affect your claim.
The History of Camp LeJeune
Camp LeJeune is a military base established in 1942 for the purpose of training members of the US Marines “Expeditionary Forces in Readiness.” Named after Lieutenant General John Archer LeJeune (1867-1942), the base houses troops and their families for various periods of time during their training. It covers a vast area comprising approximately 156,000 acres of land and water, including 14 miles of beachfront on the North Carolina coast.
At any given time, the facility is home to over 137,000 Marines, Sailors, and their families. It also houses retired veterans, civilian employees, and guests of the base camp.
Today, Camp LeJeune continues operations as a training facility. It is also a Superfund site for the cleanup of toxic materials and water in the area. Remediation efforts began in 1989 under the supervision of the US Navy, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ), and the public.
Together, these various agencies determine what actions need to be taken for removing dangerous substances and eliminating as much risk as possible.
Call Today for a Free Consultation with a Camp LeJeune Lawsuit Lawyer
Although cleanup efforts are expected to make the contaminated area safe one day, those currently living and serving at Camp LeJeune are still being exposed to toxic chemicals. There are thousands of people waiting to finally have justice for their pain and illness when the CLJA passes Congress. Now is the time to begin working with our team so you are prepared to seek the compensation you deserve.
We will aggressively pursue your claim and let you rest easy, knowing that you will pay nothing until we win restitution for you and your loved ones. The Camp Lejuene lawsuit lawyers at George Sink, PA Injury Lawyers are ready to help you. Call or contact us online to request a free consultation now.