What is the Camp Lejeune Justice Corrections Act?

The U.S. Congress passed the Camp Lejeune Justice Act (CLJA) in August 2022, providing long-overdue relief to those affected by the decades-long contamination of the water supply at the Marine Corps base in North Carolina. This legislation, signed into law by President Biden as part of the Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act, opened the door for victims to seek damages from the federal government for the debilitating health conditions they have suffered.

However, implementing the CLJA has come with significant challenges, with the vast majority of claimants still awaiting the resolution of their claims. Recognizing the need for immediate action, Rep. Deborah Ross (D-NC) and Rep. Greg Murphy (R-NC), introduced the Camp Lejeune Justice Corrections Act, a bipartisan legislation aimed at addressing the obstacles to seeking compensation for Camp Lejeune illnesses and expediting the justice process for those affected by the Camp Lejeune crisis.

Exploring the Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Crisis

The Camp Lejeune water contamination crisis dates back to the 1950s, when two water treatment plants at the Marine Corps base in North Carolina were tainted by a variety of toxic chemicals, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs) like trichloroethylene, tetrachloroethylene, vinyl chloride, and benzene. It is estimated that over one million people, both military personnel and civilians, were exposed to these contaminants between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987.

The consequences of this exposure have been devastating, with victims developing a range of debilitating conditions, including bladder, kidney, and liver cancers, leukemia, Parkinson’s disease, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, multiple myeloma, aplastic anemia, as well as cancers of the lung, breast, larynx, thyroid, and soft tissues. The impact has been particularly severe on children, with many experiencing birth defects and developmental issues.

The Camp Lejeune Justice Act: A Landmark Legislation

The passage of the Camp Lejeune Justice Act in 2022 was a significant victory for the victims and their families, who had long sought legal recourse for the harm they had suffered. The CLJA provided a two-year window for those affected to file claims with the government, paving the way for them to seek damages in court if their claims were denied or a settlement was not reached.

However, the implementation of the CLJA has been fraught with challenges, with the government struggling to process the overwhelming number of claims. According to reports, while more than 225,000 claims have been filed, the government has extended fewer than 100 settlement offers, with just a few dozen of those offers being accepted for payouts.

Understanding the Camp Lejeune Justice Corrections Act

Recognizing the urgent need to address these obstacles, Representatives Deborah Ross and Greg Murphy introduced the Camp Lejeune Justice Corrections Act, a bipartisan legislation aimed at streamlining the justice process for Camp Lejeune water contamination victims.

Expanding Jurisdiction

One of the primary concerns with the CLJA has been the backlog of claims within the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, the sole federal court responsible for handling these claims. The Camp Lejeune Justice Corrections Act seeks to address this issue by expanding the jurisdiction, allowing more courtrooms to hear these claims, and alleviating the overwhelming caseload.

Clarifying the Right to Jury Trials

Another key aspect of the proposed legislation is the clarification of a victim’s right to a trial before a jury. When the CLJA was first enacted, many victims believed they would have their day in court, with a trial and a jury. However, judges within the Eastern District of North Carolina court system ruled that the CLJA did not expressly provide for jury trials. The Camp Lejeune Justice Corrections Act aims to rectify this by explicitly stating that these claims can be “tried by the court with a jury.”

Capping Attorney Fees

The new legislation also addresses the issue of attorney fees, a concern that has been raised since the inception of the CLJA. The proposed law would mandate a 20% cap on any Camp Lejeune claim settlement and a 25% cap on any settlement or judgment entered into after a civil lawsuit. This is intended to ensure that victims do not face additional financial burdens in their pursuit of justice.

Seeking Compensation for Victims of the Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Crisis

The Camp Lejeune Justice Corrections Act represents a critical step in the ongoing effort to provide justice and closure for the victims of the Camp Lejeune water contamination crisis. By addressing the obstacles that have hindered the implementation of the original CLJA, this bipartisan legislation seeks to ensure that the military personnel, civilians, and families who were harmed by the government’s negligence can finally receive the compensation they deserve.

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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