Lawmakers Seek to Expedite Claims for Victims of Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Crisis

In a bipartisan effort to provide long-overdue justice, two members of Congress have introduced legislation to address the barriers faced by those affected by the decades-long water contamination crisis at North Carolina’s Camp Lejeune Marine Base. The newly proposed Camp Lejeune Justice Corrections Act, introduced by Representatives Greg Murphy (R-NC) and Deborah Ross (D-NC), aims to streamline the legal process and ensure timely resolution for the thousands of affected service members, their families, and civilian workers.

The Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022

The original Camp Lejeune Justice Act, enacted in 2022 as part of the Honoring Our PACT Act, provided a long-overdue avenue for those exposed to the toxic water supply at the base between 1953 and 1987 to seek compensation from the federal government. However, the implementation of this landmark legislation has been marred by a backlog of cases and logistical hurdles, leaving many victims still waiting for the justice they deserve.

The Corrections Act seeks to address these issues head-on by implementing several key reforms. Firstly, it will clarify the plaintiffs’ right to a jury trial, ensuring their day in court. Secondly, it will expand the jurisdiction of these cases beyond the Eastern District of North Carolina, helping to alleviate the overwhelming caseload currently concentrated in a single federal court. Finally, the bill will establish caps on attorney’s fees, protecting the financial interests of the victims and ensuring a greater portion of any awarded compensation reaches those who have suffered.

“All of these cases are being jammed up in the Eastern District of North Carolina. It would be years and years and years before people would get the relief that they’re owed. And many of them might pass away in the meantime,” explained Representative Ross. “We want to make it so more courthouses can hear these claims, and so that we can get this process moving as quickly as possible for people who have been injured.”

The Devastating Legacy of Camp Lejeune’s Toxic Water

The water contamination crisis at Camp Lejeune is widely regarded as one of the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history. For decades, the base’s drinking water supply was tainted with toxic chemicals, including trichloroethylene (TCE), tetrachloroethylene (PCE), vinyl chloride, and benzene. These industrial solvents and cleaning agents found their way into the water system, exposing an estimated one million service members, their families, and civilian workers to their harmful effects.

Devastating Health Consequences Linked to Tainted Camp Lejeune Water

Exposure to the toxic chemicals in Camp Lejeune’s water supply has been linked to a wide range of serious health conditions, including:

  • Cancers: Kidney, bladder, liver, esophageal, brain, pancreatic, lung, ovarian, and prostate cancer, as well as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and multiple myeloma
  • Neurological disorders: Parkinson’s disease
  • Birth defects: Cardiac defects, female infertility
  • Other illnesses: Aplastic anemia, kidney diseases, and systemic sclerosis/scleroderma

According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), the past exposures at Camp Lejeune “likely increased the risk” of these devastating health outcomes among the affected population.

Seeking Compensation for Illnesses Allegedly Caused by Contaminated Water

For decades, the U.S. government has evaded responsibility for the harm caused by the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, using legal loopholes to shield itself from liability. However, the passage of the Camp Lejeune Justice Act in 2022 marked a significant breakthrough, finally providing a pathway for victims to seek justice and compensation. 

The Act opened a two-year window for those affected by the toxic water exposure to file claims against the federal government. This landmark legislation represented a long-awaited victory for the thousands of service members, their families, and civilian workers who had been denied recourse for their suffering.

Despite the enactment of the Justice Act, the legal process has been fraught with challenges. As of early 2023, the Camp Lejeune Claims Center had received over 225,000 claims, but only 63 settlement offers had been extended, with just 40 of those accepted by claimants. This slow pace of progress has left many victims feeling frustrated and uncertain about their prospects for justice.

How the Camp Lejeune Justice Corrections Act Can Help

Recognizing the need for immediate action, Representatives Murphy and Ross introduced the Camp Lejeune Justice Corrections Act to address the persistent obstacles faced by those seeking compensation. This new legislation aims to streamline the legal process and ensure that justice is served in a timely manner. For the thousands of individuals and families who have endured the physical, emotional, and financial toll of the Camp Lejeune water crisis, the Corrections Act offers the prospect of finally achieving the closure they have been denied for far too long. By removing the barriers that have hindered their pursuit of justice, this bill has the potential to provide a measure of solace and a path forward for those who have suffered.

Camp Lejeune Lawsuit Information

Camp Lejeune lawsuits are alleging a link between the military base's contaminated water supply and an increased risk of cancer and other serious health problems. Learn more by clicking on the button.
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