Residents of The Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base Exposed To Toxic Water Can Seek Damages Under New Bill Passed By The Senate
CAMP LEJEUNE, NORTH CAROLINA (June 18, 2022) – A new bill passed by the U.S. senate will allow residents of the Camp Lejeune Marine Corps base to seek damages for toxic water exposure.
From 1953 to 1987, the water at Camp Lejeune contained dozens of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are known to cause cancers. The level of contamination in the water was nearly 280 times higher for certain chemicals over what would be considered safe.
Some of the chemicals found in the water included trichloroethylene (TCE), tetrachloroethylene (PCE), vinyl chloride (VC), and benzene. Residents of the Marine Corps base who drank the water would often become ill.
But drinking the contaminated water was not necessary to become ill. Exposure could occur through, cooking, cleaning and even bathing in the water. Known health complications from exposure to the water at Camp Lejeune include various cancers, Parkinson’s disease, stillbirths, infertility, miscarriages and much more.
Officials believe that the contamination at Camp Lejeune is one of the most significant water contamination cases in the history of the United States. As many as 900,000 people are thought to have been exposed.
Many people who lived at the marine corps base were barred from pursuing claims due to a particular law in North Carolina. The Camp Lejeune Justice Act closes that loophole and provides service members, their families and those who worked or lived on the base legal recourse.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed the bill which was then passed with bipartisan support in the senate. President Biden is expected to sign the bill when it reaches his desk.
One of the things that makes the bill unique is that the Federal Government is typically immune from lawsuits filed by service members who were working in a military context. This was established by the United States Supreme Court opinion in Feres v. United States, 340 U.S. 135.
However, it is important to understand that military personnel are not the only group of people able to pursue claims.
Family members of military personnel and anyone who worked on the base can also pursue claims. Any person exposed to the contaminated water over a period of time may have recourse under the law.
The personal injury attorneys at Gersowitz Libo & Korek, P.C. are here for you if you’ve been harmed by contaminated water at Camp Lejeune. You can always reach out to them at (516) 908-9792.
U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune was established in 1942. But it wasn’t until 1982 that the Marine Corps discovered dangerous organic compounds in the drinking water. Water from the Tarawa Terrace water treatment plant was found to be contaminated with perchloroethylene or tetrachloroethylene. According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), the waste disposal practices of ABC One-Hour Cleaners, an off-site dry cleaning business, was the primary source of the contamination.
Water at the Hadnot Point water treatment plant was contaminated by TCE (trichloroethylene). Other contaminants include PCE and benzene and TCE degradation products trans-1,2-DCE (t-1,2-dichloroethylene) and vinyl chloride. The supply wells at the plant became contaminated from multiple sources including leaking underground storage tanks, industrial spills, and waste disposal sites. From 1953 to 1985 the drinking water at the military base exceeded contaminant levels considered safe by the Environmental Protection Agency.
What Is Inside of the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022?
North Carolina law implements a strict 10-year statute of repose. But many of the people who were exposed to the contaminated water or became ill didn’t even know that the water was contaminated until after their ability to pursue a claim expired. The Camp Lejeune Justice Act fixes this by allowing those affected to file claims against the federal government. People can sue and recover damages for harm caused by the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. There are, however, certain stipulations within the law.
Recovery under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 is not exclusive to people who worked for the military. It also applies to people who lived at the base such as spouses, children, and other family members. Workers exposed to the contaminated water are also covered. The legislation covers all individuals who have not already been compensated. But plaintiffs seeking damages must be able to prove their claim based on its merits. Accordingly, it is extremely important that anyone exposed to contaminated water at the base keep all medical records, work records and documents related to their stay at Camp Lejeune.
How Can I Tell If I’ve Been Injured By The Contaminated Water?
The water at Camp Lejeune remained contaminated from August 1, 1953 to December 31, 1987. There is a good chance that anyone that lived or worked at the base from that period of time may have been exposed or injured by the contaminated water. The severity of a person’s illness from the toxic water exposure will depend on the duration and substance of their exposure. For example, a person who drank the water at Camp Lejeune for years will typically fare worse than someone who showered on base for several months. Symptoms of contamination can range from being very mild all the way to terminal cancers. There are a number of illnesses that have been scientifically linked to the contaminants found in the water.
Before a person is formally diagnosed with any illness, disease or cancer, there are a number of symptoms that they should look for. Many of these symptoms are cognitive and may include confusion, cramping, depression, diarrhea, dizziness, fatigue, headaches, lack of coordination, light sensitivity, nausea, numbness in limbs, and skin infections. Damages from any potential Camp Lejeune water contamination claim can help with past medical bills, future medical bills and lost wages from work.
Getting Help After Toxic Water Exposure
If you lived or worked at U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina from August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987, you may have been exposed to chemicals known to cause cancer. There is a good chance you may be able to pursue a claim under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act. Even if you tried to pursue a claim in the past and were unable to, there is a chance that you may be able to pursue a claim under the new law.
Our team of attorneys at Gersowitz Libo & Korek, P.C. are here to help you in any way that they can. We care deeply that victims exposed to toxic substances are treated fairly under the law and that they get the support and compensation that they are entitled to. A serious illness or death can be devastating to both individuals and families. This is why we do everything in our power to win for our clients. In fact, we have recovered nearly $1 billion for our clients in the past 30 years. Whether you just have legal questions or need help after being exposed to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, we are here for you. You can reach out to us anytime at (212) 385-4410.
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