Toxic Water at Camp Lejeune and Parkinson’s Disease

January 25, 2024 | Attorney, Matthew Dolman

The water problems at Camp Lejeune started nearly 70 years ago. Today many service members and their families are still facing the repercussions of exposure to contaminated water during their time at the base. The water at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune was so toxic that research now proves a dramatic increase in the chance of developing Parkinson's disease for those who came into contact with it.

Throughout the 34 years that the water contamination was rampant at the base, hundreds of thousands of people worked and lived at the base. Estimates bring the figure close to one million potential victims of the widespread toxic water contamination at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.

How Did the Toxic Water at Camp Lejeune Harm People?

Parkinson’s Disease Diagnosis and Camp Lejeune Water Contamination

The passage of time has proven that many victims suffered unexpected effects on their health because of the contaminants present in the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune water supply. People used the water daily to bathe, clean, cook, and drink. The extensive contamination increased the risk of future health problems and illnesses for those who were unknowingly subjected to long-term exposure to these toxic chemicals.

Camp Lejeune veterans were exposed to contaminated water in many ways, day in and day out. We now know this toxic water significantly increases the risk of developing Parkinson's disease.

The fact that it took 34 years to identify and stop the contamination is unacceptable. The water remained unchecked for far too long, and too many lives were at risk and exposed to the potential development of illness. For decades, many have fought for the rights of Camp Lejeune water contamination victims. Now, legislation allows victims to seek damages for their financial losses related to illnesses developed from the Camp Lejeune water contamination.

What is the Likelihood That Camp Lejeune Parkinson's Disease Came From Water Contamination?

For many, receiving a Parkinson's disease diagnosis can be a traumatic moment that brings fear, anger, confusion, and uncertainty. In general, the cause of Parkinson's disease is unknown. However, studies have shown that exposure to certain substances and environmental factors could cause a person to develop the disease after the toxic exposure. Camp Lejeune and Parkinson's disease have a strong link.

At the Marine Corps base Camp Lejeune, scientific and medical evidence revealed that the contaminated drinking water there exposed individuals to higher risks of Parkinson's disease. In turn, residents of Camp Lejeune faced an exponentially high risk of developing Parkinson's disease.

Of all the environmental toxins and toxic substances found in the Camp Lejeune military base water system, one, in particular, creates a significantly increased risk of Parkinson's disease. Scientific testing revealed TCE, also known as trichloroethylene, in high concentrations throughout the contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune, specifically in the water processed at the Hadnot Point water treatment plant.

What Is TCE and How Is it Dangerous?

Trichloroethylene, TCE, is not an everyday substance that should be present in water, let alone in drinking water. It is a compound used in various products, but in the instance at Camp Lejeune, its presence is likely related to cleaning materials. TCE is a common ingredient in cleaning solutions and solvents used by dry cleaning companies and to clean metal equipment such as tanks commonly found at military bases.

TCE is also identified as a known carcinogen or cancer-causing substance by the National Cancer Institute. Other substances of concern found in the drinking water throughout the contamination period at Camp Lejeune include PCE, benzene, and vinyl chloride. The contaminants in the Camp Lejeune water supply were at an alarming level, many times greater than what was deemed safe by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Toxic Water at Camp Lejeune and Parkinson's Disease

The single most conclusive scientific research illustrating a link between Camp Lejeune's water and Parkinson's disease is the "Goldman study." The full name of this study is Solvent exposures and Parkinson's disease risk in twinsAnnals of Neurology 2012;71(6):776-784. The Goldman study found that occupational exposure to TCE and PCE greatly increased the risk of Parkinson's disease compared with the general population. In fact, those exposed to TCE were six times more likely to develop Parkinson's disease compared to the general population. Those exposed to PCE were ten times as likely to develop Parkinson's disease.

Another scientific research study entitled, Trichloroethylene, a ubiquitous environmental contaminant in the risk for Parkinson's disease, showed that TCE causes degeneration of brain neurons which slowly results in the onset of Parkinson's disease.

In 2009, the National Research Council (NRC) published a study titled Contaminated Water Supplies at Camp Lejeune: Assessing Potential Health Effects. These epidemiological studies showed potential health outcomes and related TCE and PCE exposure to Parkinson's disease diagnoses. The harmful chemicals found in Camp Lejeune water are linked to a wide variety of medical issues and a host of cancers, according to this study.

Finally, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) has performed a number of similar research studies, again linking these primary contaminants in the water supply at Camp LeJeune to a later diagnosis of Parkinson's disease.

Camp Lejeune residents were routinely exposed to harmful chemicals and known carcinogens, such as TCE and PCE. Thus, we believe there is a very strong causal link relating Camp Lejeune Parkinson's disease diagnoses to the toxic water based on independent scientific evidence.

How Did the Water Contamination at Camp Lejeune Happen?

TCE and the other contaminants of the Camp Lejeune water did not just appear in water sources. The fact that it remained present in the water until the late 1980s indicates that it was routinely seeping into the water system or put there through the actions of others.

Many studies have looked into the source of the contamination during the contamination period at Camp Lejeune. The contamination of TCE in the water appeared to have primarily occurred at the Hadnot Point water plant, which provided water to several areas, including some residential areas.

In addition, we now know there were multiple sources of Camp Lejeune contamination, including on-base dry cleaning, storage of cleaning materials, improper disposal of waste, seepage into the ground from storage facilities, and leaks and spills at industrial sites.

What Can Victims Diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease Expect?

Although medical advances in treatment options and therapies have greatly improved the potential quality of life and life expectancy for individuals that develop Parkinson's disease, the illness is still a life-altering diagnosis. There is no cure for Parkinson's disease, and how the disease will progress in an individual is often unpredictable.

The progressive condition's symptoms will worsen with time, and the impacts on a person's life will grow more severe. A Parkinson's disease diagnosis can affect your relationships, your ability to work, and your future plans.

Why Couldn't Camp Lejeune Parkinson's Disease Victims Seek Compensation for Their Damages Until Now?

The history surrounding Camp Lejeune water contamination is long and troubling. Lack of testing, delayed action, overt inaction, and delays in offering help to victims all combined to allow this injustice to go on for almost 70 years.

For decades testing of the base's drinking water was nonexistent. When testing became widely implemented, the results were often overlooked, ignored, and set aside. Even when many tests revealed that the water was contaminated with hazardous materials, the reports of various officials and departments were repeatedly ignored. Significant action did not begin to occur until the mid-1980s when the danger posed by the water at Camp Lejeune was apparent. The most affected water treatment plants finally closed, and the EPA became involved in the site investigation.

The delay in action and water testing was only the beginning of the hurdles faced by victims of Camp Lejeune water contamination. While the immediate water contamination issues were finally addressed in the late 1980s, the government did not provide support and assistance to victims of the contamination until decades later.

Due to the delay in realizing the water contamination problem and the development of conditions over time, many victims had no legal remedies once they discovered the link between their illness and the water contaminants. In North Carolina, the statute of repose for personal injuries is ten years. This means the law bars financial recovery for any victim coming forward after that time, regardless of when they discovered their illness or injury.

Furthermore, it was not until 2012 that Congress finally passed legislation allowing victims to seek support for their medical expenses and disability conditions.

What Is the Camp Lejeune Families Act?

This Act was passed in 2012, and it was intended to help victims of Camp Lejeune water contamination that developed certain illnesses get help with their medical costs. The law allowed victims to file a claim for disability benefits, reimbursement of medical expenses, and free medical care with the VA if they were at Camp Lejeune and then developed one of eight qualifying medical conditions.

Many victims took action and filed a claim for benefits after the law was passed. However, red tape and stringent evaluation of claims resulted in many denials, and many victims received no benefits or compensation.

How Is the Camp Lejeune Justice Act Different From Prior Legislation?

The Camp Lejeune Justice Act became law in August 2022. This new legislation offers renewed hope and opportunity to the Camp Lejeune water contamination victims and their families. This legislation was created to address what the Camp Lejeune Families Act could not and do what it failed to do for many victims affected by the contamination catastrophe. Under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, families and victims can now file legal action against the government to claim financial compensation for developing illnesses from the water contamination at Camp Lejeune.

The statute requires that a victim provide proof of being stationed at the base, working, or in another way being exposed to the water at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days during the time between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987.

How Does the Camp Lejeune Justice Act Finally Help Toxic Water Victims?

The enactment of this federal law overrides the laws in North Carolina that previously barred victims from pursuing damages for the events at Camp Lejeune relating to their exposure to contaminated water. Those who could not previously file a lawsuit and/or those who were previously denied benefits by the VA now have a chance to seek compensation for their losses under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act.

This recent Camp Lejeune legislation finally provides former residents of Camp LeJeune and MCAS New River (and their family members) with the ability to recover financial compensation for the numerous health conditions and certain diseases related to water contamination. Parkinson's disease is just one of many water contamination health conditions identified by the Veterans Administration.

What Compensation Might Victims of the Water Contamination and Their Families Recover?

Camp Lejeune and Parkinson's Disease

The type of compensation available to victims under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act includes economic and non-economic losses. Where the prior laws only addressed medical losses and disability compensation, this statute allows Camp Lejeune Parkinson's disease victims to seek more comprehensive compensation that includes the brunt of the damages they sustained due to their illness arising from the water contamination.

As a victim of the water contamination in Camp Lejeune that later developed Parkinson's disease, you can request compensation for:

  • Medical losses. Medical support and care for Parkinson's disease are ongoing. There is no cure, and you will need lifelong medical treatment and care to live comfortably and address the progression of the disease over time. As part of your damages claim, you can include past, current, and future medical expenses necessary for managing your illness.
  • Loss of income. Parkinson's disease will progress gradually over time. While the symptoms may not initially affect your ability to work, they may have a more significant impact as time passes and if the disease progresses more rapidly than expected. You may file a claim for income losses, future income, and any other earnings you will miss because of your diagnosis.
  • Pain and suffering. The pain you endure due to your condition and the emotional and mental frustration and anguish are all recoverable as part of your claim for damages. Pain and suffering may be something personal to you, but it is something that can have an enormous effect on the quality and enjoyment of your life. Under the statute, the recovery of this loss is allowable, and depending on the extent of your illness and the impact of the disease on your life, they could be worth a considerable amount of money for you.
  • Wrongful death. If your family member died from Parkinson's disease or related complications, you may be eligible to file a wrongful death claim. These claims can include payment for burial and funeral expenses, outstanding medical debt, and other related losses.

Camp Lejeune Lawsuit and Parkinson's Disease FAQs

Who Can Pursue Compensation After a Camp Lejeune Parkinson's Disease Diagnosis?

Following the statute's language, anyone who meets the eligibility criteria of time spent at the base (at least 30 days) and exposure between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987, can be eligible for compensation for Camp LeJeune Parkinson's disease. This includes civilians, military members, and their families.

Do Victims Have Any Deadlines to Bring a Claim For Compensation?

This statute does not allow an open-ended timeframe for victims to file a claim for damages. The window of opportunity to file a claim is only open for a short period of time. Most victims must file their lawsuit in court before August 10, 2024, to be considered. Anyone filing an action after this time limit will likely be unable to pursue a case against the government for damages.

If you or a loved one developed Parkinson's disease after being at Camp Lejeune during the water contamination timeframe, you might be eligible for compensation. Contact a Camp Lejeune water contamination lawyer now for a free case evaluation.

Can You File a Lawsuit if You Filed for VA Benefits Relating to Camp Lejeune Exposure in the Past?

Although civilians did not have the option to file for benefits with the VA in the past, some military members and their families affected by the water contamination could claim disability benefits and/or medical costs under the Camp Lejeune Families Act. If your claim was successful and you received benefits, whether as a veteran or family member, this does not prevent you from seeking additional compensation if you are eligible at this time.

While disability benefits and medical payments may have covered some of your losses, the amount of compensation and type of damages covered by the prior Act is not enough to cover all of your losses. Under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, you are eligible to seek all of your damages related to the development of your illness arising from the poisoned water at Camp Lejeune.

You may include damages for medical costs, loss of income, and pain and suffering in your claim under the recent act. The government will consider the benefits received by you in the past when calculating your potential damages. However, it does not prevent you from seeking payment for additional damages you have not received money for.

How Quickly Can Someone Be Diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease?

The diagnosis of Parkinson's disease is not something that occurs in an instant. There is no simple test that will definitively prove you have developed Parkinson's disease. Instead, Parkinson's disease diagnoses may happen over time, similar to how the condition develops. As an individual begins to show signs of the disease and develop more symptoms, the diagnosis is more likely. Individuals with Parkinson's disease commonly overlook the early subtle signs of the disease.

How Long Can It Take for Parkinson's Disease to Develop?

Research indicates that the changes to your brain from Parkinson's disease occur much earlier than when a person begins showing significant symptoms and discovers something might be wrong. Studies have shown that internal changes can happen as early as six years before an individual begins to feel any symptoms.

Due to the nature of Parkinson's disease progression, many years can pass between the time when a person is exposed to contaminants or other causes and the diagnosis of the disease. Typically, Parkinson's disease is most common in individuals older than 60. However, it is possible to develop early-onset Parkinson's, which the medical community defines as occurring before the age of 50.

If you developed Parkinson's disease after exposure to contaminants in the water at Camp Lejeune, it is likely many years and possibly decades will pass before the disease reveals itself. Furthermore, it can take additional time for a doctor to link your symptoms to a Parkinson's disease diagnosis. This is one of the many challenges victims of Camp Lejeune water contamination must face.

Who Is Most at Risk of Developing Parkinson's Disease from the Camp Lejeune Water Contamination?

Those most likely to become ill from the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune include both civilians and members of the military and their families who spent extensive time at the base. It did not matter whether you were living on base or working there; if you were exposed to the water at Camp Lejeune in your day-to-day activities, you were at risk of becoming ill from the toxic materials in that water.

The more time an individual was at the base during the period of contamination, the higher the chance they could develop a threat to their health.

One of the statute's requirements allowing for recovery of damages is that a person must show they were at the base for a minimum of 30 days. This does not mean you must show you were at the base for 30 days straight but rather that, in totality, you had at least 30 days of cumulative time at the Camp Lejeune military base.

The reality is that many of the victims spent significantly more than 30 days on the military installment. Families and service members stationed at the camp could likely be there for months or years. At the same time, civilians working at the base could spend much of their careers at the base, depending on their role or position.

How Many People Developed Parkinson's Disease After Serving at Camp Lejeune?

It is impossible to know how many people developed Parkinson's disease after drinking or using the water at Camp Lejeune. Unfortunately, only a few studies have looked at small factions of the population serving at the base during the contaminated water period.

Studies of former civilian employees working at Camp Lejeune revealed a significantly higher risk of developing certain illnesses and death related to conditions likely arising from contaminants in the Camp Lejeune water supply. Further, these studies reflected that the risk of Parkinson's disease for Camp Lejeune residents was much higher than for the general population.

How Can Parkinson's Disease Affect an Individual and Their Family?

Parkinson's disease is a debilitating diagnosis and illness. The neurological impacts of the condition continue to progress and deteriorate an individual's motor functions and health over time. While the initial stages of the disease could have very little impact on a victim's functions and day-to-day life, when the disease advances, it takes a heavy toll on their independence and capacity. Parkinson's disease can have a devastating effect on the person's quality of life, their future, and on the lives of those supporting and caring for them.

Did the Contaminants in the Water Cause Other Illnesses or Injuries?

The water contamination at Camp Lejeune contained numerous hazardous materials, not just TCE but also PCE, benzene, and vinyl chloride. These are all cancer-causing agents with the potential to inflict additional stresses on the body resulting in additional medical disorders or conditions. From organ cancers to lymphomas, birth defects, and neurological disorders, the possible health implications related to the water contaminants present in Camp Lejeune from 1953 to 1987 are widespread.

Although there may not be a definitive scientific link to every ailment suffered by contamination victims, many different conditions and disorders have been reported. In-depth research and studies have revealed that certain medical conditions reported by Camp Lejeune water contamination victims were likely the result of exposure to the water at the base. When processing disability claims relating to the contamination at Camp Lejeune, the VA specified eight illnesses as presumptively caused by the contamination.

Is Parkinson's Disease One of the Presumptive Conditions Identified by the Government?

The VA created a list of diseases they identified as presumptive or likely linked to the contamination at Camp Lejeune. Knowing if your condition is on this list is helpful when considering your potential claim for damages arising from an illness. The list should not be used to exclude potential legal actions under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act.

The government is still likely to consider any illness or harm a victim believes occurred because of the exposure to Camp Lejeune's toxic water. However, if the illness you developed is on the list, then the government may prioritize your case, and your claim will be stronger.

The illnesses on the presumptive conditions list delineated by the VA include:

  • Parkinson's disease
  • Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
  • Bladder cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Adult leukemia
  • Aplastic anemia
  • Multiple myeloma

Can Parkinson's Disease Cause Death?

While the disease is not known to directly cause a person to lose their life, it significantly impacts their ability to move and function. These issues can affect how the body deals with other health risks and external factors that may, in turn, result in a person's death from Parkinson's disease

The strain that the disease places on the body can make managing other illnesses and deterioration of health more rapid than when the disease is not present. Individuals with Parkinson's disease have higher mortality rates based on the disease and other factors.

My Loved One Died After Serving at Camp Lejeune. What Rights Do I Have?

If your loved one with Parkinson's disease died after exposure to contaminants at Camp Lejeune, you might have a basis for a wrongful death claim under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act. The act not only provides an avenue for recovery for the victims directly affected by the water contamination, but it also affords the surviving families of victims who died after their time at the base an opportunity for justice on their loved ones' behalf.

Wrongful death claims appear to be allowable under the legislation. Who can bring these wrongful death claims and the damages available to the party filing the lawsuit will depend on the facts and circumstances of each case.

If your loved one passed away after a Parkinson's disease diagnosis or another ailment you believe relates to their time at Camp Lejeune, schedule an evaluation with a Camp Lejeune water contamination attorney. During this free consultation, you can discuss what legal options are available to you and whether you are eligible to file a claim.

How Can I Help Prepare My Case for a Possible Lawsuit?

It's important to take action as soon as possible if you plan to file a claim for damages related to your illness. The statute of limitations in the Camp Lejeune Justice Act is very short. Additionally, with thousands of claims expected from victims and families, it is best to initiate the process sooner rather than later. In the meantime, there are some steps you can take now to prepare your case.

Collect evidence for your claim

The current legislation allowing financial recovery for victims requires them to prove their illness and the time they spent at Camp Lejeune. Since exposure to the contaminants could have occurred anywhere from 35 to 70 years ago, tracking down evidence to support your claim for damages could be difficult. Therefore, you must be able to prove that you were on the base for a total of at least 30 days during the timeframe of August 1, 1953, to December 31, 1987.

This evidence can help prove your case

  • Medical history. Medical documentation can help prove your diagnosis and support your claim that the water contamination caused your illness. Contacting past doctors and medical facilities where you received treatment to gather records can be helpful.
  • Military paperwork. If you have your military records, such as DD form 214, this will specify where and when you were at the Camp Lejeune base.
  • Employment history. Civilians do not have military records showing their employment on base. Still, they may have access to employment records with the department or company they worked for while at Camp Lejeune.
  • Housing agreements. For families of military members that lived on base, you can use housing records such as leases and rental agreements to show the years you lived at Camp Lejeune.

Will the Government Accept My Claim and Pay My Damages Without Resistance?

Unfortunately, this is not likely. Although the government now allows victims to claim damages for the harm caused by the water contamination, this does not mean that your claim will be automatically accepted and paid. Lawyers and agencies will still be involved in determining and negotiating how much each victim should receive and whether they even qualify for damages under the legislation. Therefore, you will need someone advocating for your best interests to ensure that those handling your claim do not overlook your rights or try to reduce your damages unjustifiably.

Why It's Best to Partner With a Lawyer for Your Camp Lejeune Case

Personal Injury Lawyer
Matt Dolman, Camp Lejeune Attorney

If you developed Parkinson's disease and were at Camp Lejeune during the time of the water contamination risks, you should immediately call a lawyer for a free consultation. Camp Lejeune victims now have the ability to seek legal recourse.

The experienced personal injury lawyers at Dolman Law Group are currently representing hundreds of Camp LeJeune victims. We anticipate filing (with the assistance of local North Carolina counsel) over one hundred Camp LeJeune Parkinson's disease lawsuits over the coming months. However, before we can file those Camp Lejeune lawsuits, we must file individual claims directly with the Department of Navy. Then the Navy has six months to accept or reject those claims. Submitting a claim to the Department of Navy and waiting for a response is a preliminary requirement to filing a Camp LeJeune lawsuit for Parkinson's disease.

Contact the Camp LeJeune Parkinson's Disease Lawyers at Dolman Law Group Today

Dolman Law Group is a nationally recognized personal injury and products liability law firm. Our attorneys have over 120+ years of experience, and we have recovered more than $400 Million in compensation for our clients. With the assistance of local counsel, we are handling Camp Lejeune Parkinson's disease claims nationwide.

With so much at stake, it's crucial that you hire a Camp Lejeune water contamination attorney to represent you in your claim against the government. We believe lawsuits claiming Parkinson's disease from Camp LeJeune will exceed $500,000 in average settlement value.

We promise to fight for your best interests and the maximum compensation possible for your losses related to the contamination at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune or Marine Corps Air Station New River (MCAS New River) in North Carolina. Call 866-913-3993 today or use our simple online form. We always offer a free consultation and case review for those who served our country, family members, and civilian contractors who resided and worked at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune.


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