Service members face many dangerous situations during their time in the military. When someone mentions a Marine Corps injury, most people picture physical wounds or emotional struggles like PTSD. However, injuries can also arise from health conditions or severe illnesses due to chemical exposure.
For example, at the Marine Corps Military Base Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Air Station New River (MCAS New River), dangerous volatile organic compounds were found in contaminated drinking water. As a result, millions of Marines were exposed to hazardous chemicals and suffered serious illnesses, including cancers and neurological conditions. The medical problems became so widespread a Camp Lejeune presumptive list of illnesses related to the toxic drinking water has been created.
**BREAKING NEWS: Camp Lejeune Claims and Lawsuits Now Qualify for the "Elective Option" Settlement Process**
If you have filed a claim or lawsuit against the government for compensation related to toxic water exposure at Camp Lejeune, you may be eligible to receive payment under the government's recent Elective Option structure. In general, those suffering from a limited list of specific cancers or medical conditions may qualify to receive settlement payments ranging from $100,000 to $550,000.
For more information about the Elective Option process and to understand if you qualify or if you should take advantage of this settlement opportunity, reach out to the Camp Lejeune lawyers at Dolman Law Group today.
Table of Contents
- Camp Lejeune Veterans and Family Members Develop Cancer
- Water Contamination at Camp Lejeune
- What Is a Presumptive Condition?
- Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Presumptive Illnesses & Conditions
- Camp Lejeune Tier 1 and Tier 2 Cases
- Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawsuit Process
- Cancers With Strong Links To Camp Lejeune's Water
- Contact a Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawyer Today
The Basics of Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Presumptive Illnesses
There is sufficient evidence the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune water was full of volatile organic compounds that are considered carcinogens (cancer-causing substances). Camp Lejeune veterans, their families, and civilians who worked on the base were exposed to a wide array of toxic substances in the contaminated water they drank and used for cleaning.
Many of those injured by the toxic water have brought legal action against the government to request compensation for their losses. As part of a nationwide claim process and lawsuit, these injured service members and their families will have to prove they were exposed to the contaminated water and developed medical problems as a result. Because some medical issues have occurred so often, a list of medical concerns has been created to identify those problems that are presumed to be caused by the toxic Camp Lejeune water.
The list of illnesses that will be easiest to prove and recover legal damages for is known as the Camp Lejeune Presumptive List.
Certain Cancers are Included in the Camp Lejeune Presumptive List
Plenty of marines develop various debilitating diseases over time. Locations like Camp Lejeune and the Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) in New River, North Carolina, had serious issues with unsafe drinking water that posed a greatly increased risk of cancer and other medical issues. In fact, more and more medical evidence is coming to light illustrating the serious injuries related to drinking or bathing in contaminated Camp Lejeune drinking water.
As a repercussion, a notable portion of former military members suffers from what are now considered presumptive conditions. These are conditions that are legally presumed to be linked to the contaminated water. The most common illnesses related to Camp Lejeune water are:
- Liver cancer,
- Kidney cancer,
- Bladder cancer,
- Breast cancer, including male breast cancer, and
- Lung cancer.
We will discuss the wide array of other cancers that are related to Camp Lejeune water contamination in more detail below.
If you are experiencing symptoms due to toxic substances found in Camp Lejeune water, contact an attorney to learn more about the Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuit today. The toxic water at Camp Lejeune has caused a wide array of diseases and illnesses, and we are prepared to pursue compensation for serious medical conditions that could have been avoided if our government had taken action to protect our service members.
The History of Water Contamination at Camp Lejeune & Marine Corps Air Station New River
Camp Lejeune has been around since the 1940s, and the water contamination issue began soon after the base opened. Multiple treatment plants provided residents with drinking water. Two treatment plants had a significant level of solvents present in the water. These industrial solvents are toxic chemicals that can degrade the body's immune system.
Dangerous Chemicals Cause Toxic Exposure
The primary source of contamination was a dry cleaning business near Camp Lejeune. Like other dry cleaning places, the company regularly used PCE to wash fabrics for Camp Lejeune residents. Additionally, another off-base cleaning firm usually disposed of the chemical. As a result, PCE would then leak into the water supply.
Drinking or bathing in these toxic chemicals creates a significantly increased risk of the development of at least thirteen types of cancers along with birth defects. The toxic water contamination at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune was shockingly high and is responsible for many potentially fatal health conditions.
Other contaminants and known toxic substances made their way into the area's drinking water from multiple sources. For instance, chemical spills and storage tank leaks would occur. The amount of solvent in the water greatly exceeded the Environmental Protection Agency's maximum limit. Camp Lejeune residents were blissfully unaware of the gross degree of cancer-causing water contamination they were routinely exposed to. Sadly, contaminated water supplies were the rule, not the exception.
However, the Marine Corps would not discover how much hazardous material was in the wells until 1982. Decades prior, people routinely used the water every day. As a consequence, they unknowingly exposed themselves to dangerous chemicals.
A later investigation would show the effects of the constant exposure for those who resided on or served at Camp Lejeune. Many people became at risk of developing cancer, and others experienced birth complications. Some veterans had to apply for disability benefits when they received diagnoses for presumptive diseases.
What are Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Presumptive Illnesses?
A presumptive illness, disease, or condition is a diagnosis of a chronic illness a veteran receives during active duty. To award benefits, the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) assumes the circumstances of a person's military service caused the disease. Common examples include arthritis and Type 2 diabetes. Military members can claim non-taxable benefits as compensation when they have a presumptive condition.
For a condition to be presumptive, a veteran must receive a diagnosis no later than one year after release from active duty. Additionally, certain groups of former service members may qualify for benefits for presumptive diseases.
For instance, prisoners of war and veterans of specific wars can apply for VA disability benefits. Now, individuals may qualify for health care benefits if they resided on or served at Camp Lejeune or MCAS (Marine Corps Air Station New River).
8 Illnesses Determined to be Camp Lejeune Presumptive Conditions
The development of a specific chronic disease may occur weeks or months after exposure to contaminated water. In fact, many Camp Lejeune veterans did not manifest symptoms until fifteen to twenty years after residing at the Marine Corps base. Studies have found a link between toxic water and a variety of medical conditions.
The Department of Veteran Affairs labeled eight of these conditions as "presumptive conditions." To recover disability benefits, a person may have developed any of these conditions:
- Adult leukemia. Leukemia in adults is a life-threatening illness. Treatment can be extensive and expensive. Additionally, the severe symptoms reduce an individual's quality of life.
- Liver cancer. The Department of Veteran Affairs considers liver cancer a form of disability. The disease impedes the organ's ability to function correctly. VA benefits have a rating system for liver cancer ranging from 10 percent to 100 percent disability.
- Bladder cancer. Different types of bladder cancer may have resulted from chemicals in the water supply. Someone can experience pain and suffering due to painful urination and back pain. Surgery or chemotherapy for the treatment of bladder cancer can cost thousands of dollars.
- Aplastic anemia. While rare, a person could develop aplastic anemia after significant exposure to the water at Camp Lejeune. The government offers benefits since the condition affects the body's ability to create red blood cells.
- Kidney cancer. The disability rating for kidney cancer may vary based on its current stage and if the disease causes other conditions. A person could have a 100 percent rating and get over $3,000 per month for this presumptive illness.
- Parkinson's disease. The condition causes disabling symptoms like muscle stiffness and impaired balance. The minimum VA disability rating is 30 percent, but it can increase due to various factors. Higher ratings generally mean higher monthly payments.
- Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Radiation therapy, bone marrow transplant, and other treatment options can be expensive. Veteran disability benefits help pay for the care someone needs. However, payments might not be enough, and other legal options may be necessary.
- Multiple myeloma. Due to the severe issues this disease causes, the disability rating usually is 100 percent. The rating remains the same for five years after the diagnosis. Payments help cover extensive treatment.
If someone received a diagnosis for a non-presumptive Camp Lejeune condition, they may not qualify for benefits. However, they may have the chance to file a water contamination lawsuit to seek compensation directly from the government. Contact a personal injury law firm to learn more.
Camp Lejeune Lawsuits are Divided Into Tier 1 and Tier 2 Cases
This list is a bit different than Camp Lejeune presumptive conditions. Cancers related to the water at the Marine Corps bases have been categorized into two tiers based on the strength of the scientific and medical evidence linking each disease to toxic water contamination.
A Tier 1 cancer has very strong scientific data, including peer-reviewed studies linking the disease to the contaminated carcinogenic water at Camp Lejeune. We believe these will be the strongest cases that warrant the largest settlements or verdicts should the government fail to reasonably assess a claim. In fact, we estimate the value of Tier 1 cancer cases may be in excess of $500,000, and some will exceed $1 million.
Tier 1 Camp Lejeune Cancer
- Bladder cancer
- Liver cancer
- Multiple myeloma
- Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma
- Breast cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Esophageal cancer
Tier 2 Camp Lejeune Cancers
Tier 2 Camp Lejeune cancers do not have as much scientific evidence linking them to the drinking water at Camp Lejeune, and the evidence linking these cancers to Camp Lejeune water is not as strong as the link involving Tier 1 cancers.
This list is a bit less defined, but we believe the following conditions will fall under Tier 2 if they can be linked to Camp Lejeune water contamination:
- Lung cancer,
- Cervical cancer,
- Aplastic anemia,
- Prostate cancer,
- Brain cancer,
- Colon cancer, and
- Ovarian cancer
While some law firms are only accepting clients suffering from Tier 1 illnesses, we are very much interested in investigating your claim and pursuing damages if your condition falls into Tier 2.
We anticipate the government will offer between $225,000 and $500,000 for cases involving these cancers with less scientific and medical evidence linking them to Camp Lejeune water contamination. We also believe these cases have a greater likelihood of being tried before a North Carolina jury due to more resistance from the government.
Supporting Studies of Contaminated Water Health Risks at Camp Lejeune
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) is an agency for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). They serve as an investigative body for HHS and study environmental emergencies caused by man-made and naturally hazardous items or substances. The ATSDR performed exhaustive testing and studies to determine the environmental threat and health risks posed by the contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Air Station New River.
ATSDR has conducted several major studies over the past fifteen years. This includes a cancer incidence study and two separate mortality studies concerning the water at Camp Lejeune and its link to a wide variety of cancers and birth defects.
Mortality studies looked at the rates of death for over 150,000 Marines and civilian contractors. More specifically, they looked at the rates of death for specific cancers for individuals subjected to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune between 1957 to 1987. Researchers examined their medical records and diagnosis of various types of cancer.
Scientific Evidence Illustrates the Strongest Links to Camp Lejeune Cancer Types
Earlier, we discussed the presumptive conditions, the most common cancers, and what have been deemed to be Tier 1 and Tier 2 cancers related to Camp Lejeune water contamination. We will now discuss the specific cancers with the strongest scientific causal link with an individual's exposure to Camp Lejeune's water contamination.
Which Cancers Have Strong Links To Camp Lejeune's Water Contamination?
According to various studies, the following types of cancer were determined to have strong links to the toxic water at Camp Lejeune:
- Bladder Cancer
- Prostate Cancer
- Breast Cancer
- Kidney Cancer
- Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma
Let's look at each of these cancers in more detail to see how they are related to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune.
Camp Lejeune Bladder Cancer
Several environmental factors can cause bladder cancer. Exposure to industrial chemicals, cigarette smoking, and exposure to contaminated drinking water can each lead to bladder cancer. In the case of those stationed or residing at Camp Lejeune, contaminated water contained the toxic substances tetrachloroethylene (PCE) and trichloroethylene (TCE).
Both chemicals are considered industrial solvents commonly used in the process of dry cleaning. ABC Cleaners was a dry cleaning facility at Camp Lejeune, and these solvents entered the water at Camp Lejeune by being spilled down drains and improperly dumped into the water supply.
Both PCE and TCE are considered bladder carcinogens, and since they were prevalent in the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, we believe the scientific evidence is very strong to support Camp Lejeune-related bladder cancer.
Camp Lejeune Prostate Cancer
Multiple studies found significant amounts of TCE and PCE in the drinking water at Camp Lejeune, and one study in particular shows that individuals exposed to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune had a much higher rate of prostate cancer (among several cancers) than the normal population. Another study demonstrates that exposure to TCE creates a much greater risk and incidence of prostate cancer. We are very confident in the body of scientific evidence supporting Camp Lejeune prostate cancer cases.
Camp Lejeune Breast Cancer
The ATSDR conducted a study of whether Marines exposed to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune were more likely to develop male breast cancer. The results of studying 444 Marines demonstrated a causal link between exposure to PCE and vinyl chloride with a much greater incidence rate of breast cancer than the ordinary population.
Further, this study suggests that PCE and TCE may further accelerate the development of breast cancer. We have also found an epidemiological study indicating exposure to TCE and PCE creates a much greater risk of developing breast cancer. We are confident in the scientific evidence supporting Camp Lejeune breast cancer claims.
Camp Lejeune Kidney Cancer
Camp Lejeune water contamination has been linked to both chronic kidney disease and kidney cancer. The ATSDR's previously referenced study of the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune and the mortality study demonstrated a much higher rate of kidney cancer among residents of this Marine Base than the average population.
Finally, the ATSDR released a morbidity study indicating exposure to TCE and PCE at Camp Lejeune led to a much higher risk of kidney cancer among both Marines and civilian employees. There is compelling medical literature demonstrating exposure to TCE and PCE is definitely related to kidney cancer. We are extremely confident in the scientific evidence displaying what amounts to irrefutable proof of Camp Lejeune kidney cancer.
Camp Lejeune Leukemia
The rate of adult leukemia and other forms of leukemia are closely linked to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune. Another ATSDR study reviewed hundreds of medical records that linked adult leukemia to the drinking water at Camp Lejeune.
In fact, under "health effects with sufficient evidence for causation for benzene," the study references adult leukemia. Again, we are confident about the scientific evidence linking the incidence of leukemia to the contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune. Thus, we feel very confident that Camp Lejeune water caused an alarmingly high rate of incidence of Camp Lejeune leukemia.
Camp Lejeune Non Hodgkin's Lymphoma
Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma is a cancer that starts in the lymphatic system, which is part of the immune system and defends the cells within our body from germs. Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma causes the body's lymphocytes (white blood cells) to grow abnormally and can form into cancerous tumors. Exposure to contaminated water is among the environmental risk factors for this cancer. We feel confident in the scientific data illustrating Camp Lejeune non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma.
Camp Lejeune Cancers With Weaker Supporting Studies
We believe cases of multiple myeloma, liver cancer, and lung cancer have significant value, but the science is not as strong as the previous cancers we discussed. However, although we remain confident in these claims, we anticipate these cases will involve a tougher battle with a greater likelihood that legal counsel will be forced to file a lawsuit.
Even though these cancers are not included in the Camp Lejeune presumptive list of illnesses, if you have been diagnosed with one of these conditions after exposure to the camp's toxic water, talk to a dedicated Camp Lejeune attorney to learn more about your legal rights.
Camp Lejeune Multiple Myeloma
A mortality study examined civilian workers exposed to the water at Camp Lejeune. The study's findings were significant for illustrating a much higher risk and incidence of kidney cancer, leukemias, oral cancer, rectal cancer, multiple myeloma, and Parkinson's disease. However, there is an absence of numerous studies specific to multiple myeloma and contaminated water.
Camp Lejeune Liver Cancer
Liver cancer is listed in some literature as an increased risk along with other cancers across the board. However, the science illustrating a causal relationship between the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune and the incidence of liver cancer is less authoritative than the others. Some correlation has been established between the existence of PCE or TCE in contaminated water and liver cancer.
Camp Lejeune Lung Cancer
The National Research Council (NRC) issued a report on their study of the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune. This study found an association between higher rates of lung cancer in former residents of Camp Lejeune. Unfortunately, we believe there are so many risk factors for lung cancer that these cases may be a bit more difficult to pursue than others. However, we are investigating multiple Camp Lejeune lung cancer claims, and we are willing to accept more. We do feel confident in pursuing lung cancer claims arising from contaminated water.
Can Family Members Receive VA Health Benefits for Camp Lejeune Presumptive Conditions?
Roughly one million military members and their loved ones have suffered from the effects of polluted water at Camp Lejeune. While veterans can apply for VA benefits, their relatives may wonder if they can also receive payments.
The Department of Veterans Affairs does allow benefits for spouses, children, and other dependents of veterans and service members. The program recognizes the economic loss (including health care expenses) family members face related to the military member's service.
If you need to pay out-of-pocket costs for treatment, you can request reimbursement from the VA system. However, medical care needs to relate to at least one of these listed conditions:
- Kidney cancer
- Breast cancer
- Bladder cancer
- Female infertility
- Esophageal cancer
- Lung cancer
- Hepatic steatosis
- Multiple myeloma
- Renal toxicity
- Myelodysplastic syndromes
- Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
- Neurobehavioral effects
If a veteran's condition leads to their death, the surviving family members can qualify for additional benefits. Compensation may help pay for funeral and burial expenses. To qualify for benefits, each family member must prove a familial relationship with the service member and produce records to show they were on the base between 1953 and 1987.
Although non-service members may not qualify for VA benefits, they might have the right to bring a claim or lawsuit under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act if they were diagnosed with any of the conditions described in this article. Consult with a qualified Camp Lejeune lawyer to fully understand your potential legal rights.
The Department of Veteran Affairs May Deny Disability Benefits Claims
In some circumstances, the Department of Veteran Affairs will deny a disability benefits claim. A common argument is the condition does not relate to the individual's military service because even these presumptive diseases can have multiple causes and risk factors.
The VA may not think an illness relates to a person's service at Camp Lejeune because of a lack of a diagnosis. The veteran may not have a medical diagnosis in their service treatment records. However, the law does not require one. You only need to document your condition from a qualified healthcare provider.
The department might say the claimant failed to establish a clear link between the illness and their time exposed to the contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune. Or, the claim could be denied because the claimant does not display symptoms of the disability. The early stages of a few illnesses, like kidney cancer, do not show signs.
If your VA benefits claim was denied, speak with an experienced VA benefits claim lawyer to learn more about your rights.
You Can Appeal a Denied VA Disability Benefits Claim
Veterans can appeal a rejected claim. They must submit a notice of disagreement explaining why they disagree with the decision. The appeal has to occur within one year after the denial.
A person can request a decision review officer to evaluate the appeal or go straight to the Board of Veterans Appeal (BVA). If the decision review officer denies the request, the veteran can still go to the BVA.
Options For VA Benefits Appeals
A Board member may deny the appeal, but the applicant still has a couple of options. They could reopen a new request with their local VA office. The decision may go back to the Board if a clear error is present in the original verdict.
Alternatively, some victims have taken the legal route for compensation. A successful lawsuit can result in the veteran receiving the money they need for their losses.
Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawsuit Basics
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act Empowers Veterans and Their Families
In the past, military members and their families from Camp Lejeune and MCAS have tried to pursue compensation through the legal system. However, the court has repeatedly denied their requests for financial reimbursement. Now, recent legislation could help many victims.
President Biden signed the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 (CLJA) into law on August 2, 2022. As a result, veterans and their family members, along with civilian workers, can file lawsuits against the United States government for harm and losses they sustained due to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune.
Victims may be able to claim damages for medical expenses, missed wages, lost earning potential, pain and suffering, and loss of consortium. However, punitive damages do not apply. The amount they receive in a settlement depends on the severity of the condition and other factors.
Qualifying veterans, their family members, and civilians who worked on the bases have two years from the enactment date to file a case. Work with a Camp Lejeune water contamination attorney as soon as possible to ensure you do not miss any deadlines.
Who Can File a Camp Lejeune Cancer Lawsuit?
One group that can file a Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuit is the people who lived on the base or at MCAS New River. The residents include service members and their relatives. Furthermore, the duration of their residence cannot be less than 30 days between August 1953 and December 1987.
Other eligible claimants include people who worked on the base for at least one month. Some of the workers include civilian contractors who got sick from performing their duties.
The third eligible group is anyone who otherwise became exposed on the base between 1953 and 1987. For example, a person could have suffered from the chemical's life-long effects while in the womb.
Schedule a free consultation if you are unsure if you qualify for a lawsuit. An initial meeting can provide you with valuable information about your case.
The Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Claim Process
Before filing a lawsuit, a potential claimant must file a claim with the Department of Navy, Judge Advocate General (JAG). Then, the JAG has six months to accept or reject the claim. Submitting a claim is a condition precedent to filing a Camp Lejeune Lawsuit. This means you cannot jump into a lawsuit without first filing the JAG claim.
Over 10,000 Camp Lejeune administrative claims have been filed with the Judge Advocate General for the Department of the Navy. Further, over 60 Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuits have been filed in the Eastern District of North Carolina.
The Camp Lejeune Lawsuit Process
The process to start a Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuit begins with a qualified law firm. You can schedule a free consultation with a Camp Lejeune cancer lawyer at Dolman Law Group to determine if you are eligible. Once you and your lawyer agree to work together, the attorney starts building a strong case.
During the lawsuit process, your lawyer will collect the necessary evidence to support your claim. They will speak to military experts, obtain medical records, and provide documents to prove your residence at the Marine Corps base during the relevant time frame.
If the government provides an unfair or unreasonable settlement offer, you (at the advice of legal counsel) can decide to file a lawsuit against the government. All Camp Lejeune cancer lawsuits are being filed in the Easter District of North Carolina. Your attorney at Dolman Law Group will work with local North Carolina counsel if you choose to file a lawsuit.
If a trial is necessary, our attorneys can present your case using the best strategy to convince the jury to decide in your favor. If you are interested in discussing a potential Camp Lejeune cancer lawsuit, contact us immediately.
Dolman Law Group Handles Cases Involving All Conditions Included on the Camp Lejeune Presumptive List and More
If you decide to pursue legal action, you deserve a law firm with significant financial resources and past experience to handle your Camp Lejeune water contamination case. During your free consultation, ensure your attorney has the tenacity, determination, and skill needed to succeed.
Dolman Law Group is a nationally recognized catastrophic injury and mass torts law firm. Our Camp Lejeune lawyers have over 130 plus years of combined experience and have recovered over $400 million in claims. We have the necessary financial resources to zealously advocate claims and lawsuits against any sized corporate or government defendant. Camp Lejeune presumptive conditions cover a wide array of cancers and health conditions, and we can handle all of these cases with compassion and understanding.
What to Look for in a Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawyer
A law firm's level of experience is incredibly important. A lawyer who has practiced law for decades is familiar with the legal process and court procedures. They can anticipate the defendant's actions and know how to counter defensive arguments.
In addition to experience, a Camp Lejeune water contamination attorney should have a history of success. Many firms post successful case results on their websites to inform potential clients. Additionally, client testimonials can provide insight into the lawyer's track record and how they treat their clients.
Your lawyer must have sufficient knowledge about the laws regarding water contamination and stay up to date with any statutory changes as well. If a lawyer is unfamiliar with your rights as a service member, they are less likely to secure a reasonable settlement.
Contact an attorney that makes you feel comfortable with divulging personal information. They should appear welcoming and seem interested in taking your case. You can gauge how at ease the lawyer makes you feel at a free consultation. Call us today at 833-552-7274 for more information.
The Dolman Law Group works with local counsel in any jurisdiction outside Florida for the purpose of filing lawsuits in jurisdictions wherein we are not licensed. Thus, we will follow each State's ethical rules to ensure a local attorney is involved.