Following last week’s Senate vote on the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, individuals harmed by contaminated water while living or working on Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune are one big step closer to being able to recover the financial compensation they deserve. Here’s the latest update on the progressing legislation and what potential claimants need to know about moving forward with a Camp Lejeune lawsuit.
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022, introduced in the House of Representatives in January 2022, has now passed both the House and the Senate. The bill is on its way to becoming federal law, an update that would benefit the Veterans and families who have been harmed by exposure to toxic chemicals in the drinking water on the North Carolina military base.
In March 2022, the House of Representatives voted 256 to 174 to pass the Honoring our PACT Act of 2022, which encompasses the Camp Lejeune Justice Act along with other legal matters pertaining to toxic exposures related to military service. On June 16, 2022, the Senate passed the bill by a vote of 84 to 14.
The final step needed to turn this bill into federal law is for President Joe Biden to sign it into law. The President has already advocated for the passageof the Honoring our PACT Act and is expected to sign the bill into law, possibly as early as this week.
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 would establish a two-year timeframe from the date of the law’s enactment during which Veterans, their families, and others exposed to contaminated drinking water on the military base could commence legal action. This window is critical because it removes legal technicalities, like North Carolina’s statute of repose, that have barred claimants from receiving compensation despite having both a history of exposure and a relevant medical diagnosis. Once the law passes, Veterans and their families can finally move forward with a claim for the compensation they deserve.
To have the grounds for a Camp Lejeune Lawsuit, you must have been exposed to contaminated water while living or working at Camp Lejeune base, and you must have suffered harm that is linked to the toxic chemicals with which the water at the military base was contaminated.
What constitutes exposure in Camp Lejeune claims? Generally, you (or the loved one on behalf of whom you are seeking compensation) must have been exposed to water from contaminated systems at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days between the dates of August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987.
The contaminated treatment plants and distribution systems on the base were the Hadnot Point and Tarawa Terrace plants. The Hadnot Point system sometimes supplemented water distributed by the Holcomb Boulevard system, expanding the scope of potential contamination to Veterans and families served by this water system, as well.
The water in these systems during the period between 1953 and 1987 was found to have contained a number of volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) at levels in excess of what is considered safe for drinking water. The specific toxic chemicals detected in Camp Lejeune drinking water include trichloroethylene (TCE), tetrachloroethylene (also called perchloroethylene, or PCE), vinyl chloride, and benzene.
Each of these chemicals has been linked to serious medical conditions. Research findings sufficient to establish causation exist in the case of several medical conditions, according to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.
TCE has been shown to cause Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, kidney cancer, and cardiac defects. Additionally, research findings have uncovered sufficient evidence to suggest but not definitively conclude a causal relationship between exposure to TCE and leukemia, multiple myeloma, liver cancer, scleroderma, end-stage renal disease, and Parkinson’s disease.
Causation has been established between exposure to PCE and bladder cancer, while evidence suggests but is not currently sufficient to definitively conclude causation of non-Hodgkin lymphoma and end-stage renal disease.
Evidence exists that demonstrates causation between vinyl chloride exposure and liver cancer. Other health conditions that have been linked to vinyl chloride exposure by at least one research study include lung cancer, brain cancer, soft tissue cancer, and liver cirrhosis.
Sufficient evidence exists to show causation between benzene exposure and leukemias and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Research studies have also suggested causation between benzene and multiple myeloma, although the evidence is not sufficient to definitively conclude a causal relationship with this health condition. At least one research study has linked benzene exposure to miscarriage, aplastic anemia, and myelodysplastic syndromes.
Under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022, the plaintiff must be able to provide evidence showing either that there is a causal relationship between the toxic exposure resulting from Camp Lejeune contaminated water or “that a causal relationship is at least as likely as not.” As such, research findings on the health effects of these VOCs are integral to the success of a Camp Lejeune lawsuit.
In light of the ongoing legislative developments, attorneys are currently reviewing potential Camp Lejeune lawsuit claims. If you believe you may have the grounds for a claim, either under current law or once the new legislation is enacted, consider consulting a Camp Lejeune lawyer who is knowledgeable about these unique legal situations to learn more about your legal rights.
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