Camp Lejeune's Water Contamination HistoryIn the 1950s, Camp Lejeune began to experience serious water contamination when dangerous chemicals entered the base through two of the area's water treatment plants, Tarawa Terrace and Hadnot Point. Tarawa Terrace Water Treatment Plant was contaminated with PCE (perchloroethylene or tetrachloroethylene) through the improper waste disposal of toxins by those working at an off-base dry cleaning facility, while Hadnot Point was exposed to these toxins, including trichloroethylene, benzene, tetrachloroethylene, and vinyl chloride because of leaking underground storage tanks, industrial area spills, and other waste disposal sites. By the time the government confirmed these toxic chemicals, which was not until 1982, the hazardous substances had spread throughout the base, affecting millions of people living, working, or otherwise staying on the base or surrounding areas.
The Hazardous Substances in the WaterWhen the government began testing the water at Camp Lejeune, it found over 70 different chemicals and solvents polluting the water, including:
- Tetrachloroethylene: This chemical is used as a metal degreasing solvent, as well as a dry cleaning agent. It is also used as a building block for other types of chemicals and consumer products.
- Benzene: This colorless chemical also turns into a light-yellow liquid at room temperature. It is mainly used as a solvent in the pharmaceutical and chemical industries, but it is also used as a starting agent to make other types of chemicals, such as detergents, drugs, pesticides, plastics, dyes, and lubricants.
- Trichloroethylene: Trichloroethylene (TCE) is mainly used as a solvent for degreasing metal parts. However, it can also be found in numerous consumer products such as paint removers, stain removers, and even adhesives. Unfortunately, when TCE is spilled, it will move through the soil into the underground water, polluting the drinking water wells.
- Vinyl chloride: Vinyl chloride is a chemical typically used in producing PVC plastic, which can be found in packaging materials, pipes, automotive parts, and medical devices.
Signs and Symptoms of Liver CancerYour liver is a football-sized organ that sits in the upper right portion of your abdomen. When individuals develop liver cancer, it is a type of cancer that begins in the cells of the liver. Although most people will not have any symptoms or signs during the early stages of liver cancer when these symptoms do finally appear, they will usually include:
- Unintentional weight loss
- Appetite loss
- Upper abdominal pain
- General weakness
- Abdominal swelling
- Yellow discoloration of the skin
- White, chalky stools
The Link Between Liver Cancer and the Toxins in the Water At Camp LejeuneAccording to a report done by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) on health risks linked to the toxic water at Camp Lejeune, it has been shown that liver cancer is one of the diseases that can be directly linked to the contaminants in the water on the base. In fact, this study found convincing evidence that individuals exposed to trichloroethylene and tetrachloroethylene in the water at Camp Lejeune had a significantly increased rate of liver cancer. In addition, other medical studies have also established that vinyl chloride exposure has been known to increase the risk of a rare form of liver cancer known as hepatic angiosarcoma. There was even a report done by the National Research Council (NRC) called Contaminated Water Supplies at Camp Lejeune: Assessing Potential Health Effects that concluded that exposure to the water at Camp Lejeune results in much higher rates of liver cancer and fatty liver disease compared to the general population.
Legal Updates Regarding Camp Lejeune Water Contamination LawsuitsUnfortunately, even with everything these service members and loved ones had to endure because of this toxic water, many were still denied the opportunity to obtain the money and benefits they needed to take care of these health issues. Thankfully, a new federal regulation was signed into law on August 10, 2022, by President Biden, which allows service members, veterans, family members, and civilians who resided, lived, or otherwise stayed at the Camp Lejeune base for at least 30 days between August 1, 1953, to December 31, 1987, to go after compensation for their health issues and other losses that resulted from the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune. Under this new law, the government could not bring an immunity defense to stop the claims brought in accordance with this Act, and individuals bringing this claim had a lowered evidentiary standard for causation, meaning that they would not have to bring in expert witness testimony to prove that their health condition was linked to contaminated water. Rather, if there were previous studies that established that there was a connection between the toxic water and the disease, it was enough to establish a cause.
Filing a Camp Lejeune LawsuitBefore you can pursue a Camp Lejeune lawsuit, you must establish:
- You lived, worked, or otherwise served at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune or the Marine Corps Air Station New River for at least 30 days between August 1953 and December 1987.
- You did not receive a dishonorable discharge when you left the base.
- You have at least one of the eight health conditions that are considered to be presumptive.
The Eight Presumptive Health Conditions
- Liver cancer
- Parkinson's disease
- Adult leukemia
- Kidney cancer
- Multiple myeloma
- Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
- Bladder cancer
- Aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes
Financial Damages You Can Pursue in a Camp Lejeune LawsuitIf you can pursue a lawsuit under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, you may be able to go after certain financial damages to recover compensation for the harm and suffering you had to endure because of your toxic water exposure. These damages include payment for:
- Medical fees related to medical treatments, doctor visits, hospitalization, medications, surgeries, and other types of medical care
- Future medical care expenses
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Emotional anguish
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of quality of life
- Other costs related to the incident and your health condition
The Evidence That Can Help You Prove Your Camp Lejeune Legal CaseTo bring a successful Camp Lejeune lawsuit, you need to be able to provide relevant evidence that not only establishes the extent of your damages and the severity of your illness but also shows that the contaminated water caused your disease. As a result, before you file your lawsuit, it would be beneficial to gather:
- Paperwork showing that you resided or stayed at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days between August 1953 and December 1987
- Records showing the years and locations you served and the places you were stationed at
- Medical tests, records, diagnoses, and other health care information, such as health studies, showing a connection between your disease and the toxic water
- Medical bills related to your health condition
- Documents showing previously obtained disability benefits
- Proof of work if you were a civilian who worked on the base from August 1953 through December 1987
- Marriage license, birth records, adoption records proving your relationship with the service member who served at Camp Lejeune
- Housing records, tax documents, or other evidence showing that you lived on base for at least 30 consecutive days from August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987
- Bills and other expenses showing what you paid for these covered health conditions
The Time Limitations to Bring a Camp Lejeune LawsuitEven though the Act allows qualified individuals to bring legal action against the government for the harm they suffered because of their exposure to the unsafe water at Camp Lejeune, their time to file this lawsuit is limited. Those eligible will only have two years from the date the Act was signed, or August 10, 2022, to file it. If they fail to do so within this time, they can be barred from obtaining the compensation they deserve. For these reasons, do not wait to start your Camp Lejeune legal claim. Instead, reach out to a Camp Lejeune lawyer as soon as possible. These legal professionals can ensure your required documents and motions are properly filed before you run out of time.
Work With a Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Attorney and Go After the Financial Damages You NeedIf you or a loved one has liver cancer because of the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, now is the time to go after the justice and financial compensation you deserve. Fortunately, you will not have to go after this money alone. Instead, when you work with an experienced Camp Lejeune water contamination lawyer, they can handle this legal battle for you. Once hired, your lawyers can:
- Review the circumstances of your disease and the time you spent at Camp Lejeune, determine if you have a valid legal Camp Lejeune claim, and help you figure out the legal options you can pursue.
- Obtain the evidence needed to show that the toxic water caused your condition.
- Bring in experts to prove your case, if needed.
- Handle the negotiations with the other side and go after just compensation.
- Proceed to trial if the government is unwilling to get you the money you deserve, and fight for the total money you deserve.