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Camp Lejeune Lawsuit

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Camp Lejeune Lawsuit

A final rule from the United States Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) on January 13, 2017, stated that veterans, former reservists, and former National Guard members who had served at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, the United States military training facility in Jacksonville, North Carolina, for at least 30 days and were diagnosed with any of eight associated diseases are going to be presumed to have incurred or aggravated their disease in service for purposes of entitlement to VA benefits. The presumption means that affected former reservists and National Guard members will have veteran status for the purpose of entitlement to VA benefits, and such individuals should immediately contact a Camp Lejeune lawyer.

The presumptive service connection was established by the VA for service members exposed to water supply contamination at Camp Lejeune between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987, and who ultimately developed one of eight diseases. The eight named conditions are the only types for which the VA deems there is sufficient scientific and medical evidence supporting the creation of a presumption, but the VA is still reviewing additional information about other cancers.

camp lejeune water contamination

Toxic Chemicals Found in Camp Lejeune Water

Many soldiers at Camp Lejeune and their families have been subject to several volatile organic compounds (VOCs) or toxic substances in both drinking water and bathing water between the August 1953 and December 1987 dates listed above. Such contamination was ultimately discovered in wells throughout the base in 1982 after users first began using those wells almost a year before.

An Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) assessment ultimately led to the VA releasing a report in 2017 identifying the eight presumptive conditions linked to Camp Lejeune water contamination. Contaminants included VOCs such as tetrachloroethylene (PCE), trichloroethylene (TCE), vinyl chloride (VC), and benzene.

Types of Cancers Linked to Camp Lejeune Water Contamination

Presumptive service connections mean that the VA will formally acknowledge military service at Camp Lejeune during qualifying years associated with the eight listed presumptive diseases. If you are filing a disability claim, the VA requires you to submit medical records and other medical evidence demonstrating your conditions link to your military service, but you should not have to supply any additional documentation.

The eight presumptive illnesses include:

  • Adult leukemia — Leukemia is a form of cancer involving a body’s blood-forming tissues such as the lymphatic system and bone marrow. In regards to leukemia, bone marrow creates aberrant white blood cells pushing out proper blood cells and making it impossible for the circulation to function properly. Adult leukemia will often stem from exposure to certain chemicals, and symptoms may include persistent fatigue or weakness, fever or chills, weight loss, frequent or severe infections, swollen lymph nodes, easy bleeding or bruising, an enlarged liver or spleen, recurrent nosebleeds, excessive sweating, tiny red spots on your skin, and bone pain or tenderness.
  • Aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes — Aplastic anemia refers to a rare but still serious blood condition that occurs when bone marrow cannot make enough new blood cells for a body to function normally. Treatments may include blood and bone marrow transplants, medicines to stop the immune system from destroying the stem cells in your bone marrow, blood transfusions, medicines to help your body make new blood cells, or removing or staying away from toxins in the environment. Symptoms can include shortness of breath, fatigue, rapid or irregular heart rate, frequent or prolonged infections, pale skin, unexplained or easy bruising, prolonged bleeding from cuts, nosebleeds and bleeding gums, dizziness, skin rash, headaches, and fevers.
  • Bladder cancer — Bladder cancer usually begins after malignant cells form in tissues or lining inside the bladder, and some of the causes may include chemicals discovered in certain environments. It is possible for early-stage bladder cancers to return even after successful treatment. Signs or symptoms of bladder cancer could include blood in your urine, frequent or painful urination, and back pain.
  • Kidney cancer —  Kidney cancer can develop in either of a person’s two kidneys, although it more commonly involves the left kidney. This disease is serious because if left untreated, kidney cancer can spread to other parts of the body and may become fatal. Kidney cancer can be somewhat difficult to diagnose because it often has no signs or symptoms when it is in its early stages. Over time, signs and symptoms might include back or side pain that does not subside, blood in the urine, unexplained weight loss, loss of appetite, tiredness, and fever.
  • Liver cancer — Liver cancer is a disease that begins in the cells of the liver, and the most common form of liver cancer is hepatocellular carcinoma, which usually begins in the main type of liver cell, the hepatocyte. Signs and symptoms are relatively uncommon in the early stages of primary liver cancer, but eventual symptoms may include loss of appetite, weight loss, nausea and vomiting, upper abdominal pain, weakness and fatigue, yellow discoloration of your skin and the whites of your eyes, abdominal swelling, and white, chalky stools.
  • Multiple myeloma — Multiple myeloma refers to a type of cancer that affects the plasma cells in the body, leading to the cells growing out of control and crowding out the healthy blood cells. Multiple myeloma has no known cure, but some treatments can help manage symptoms and improve a person’s quality of life. Symptoms may not be apparent early on, but they can eventually include nausea, bone pain, constipation, mental fogginess or confusion, loss of appetite, fatigue, weight loss, frequent infections, weakness or numbness in the legs, and excessive thirst.
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma — Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is a type of cancer beginning in the lymphatic system, and white blood cells known as lymphocytes will grow abnormally and form growths or tumors throughout the body. Signs and symptoms of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma may include abdominal pain or swelling, swollen lymph nodes in your neck, armpits, or groin, chest pain, trouble breathing, coughing, fever, persistent fatigue, night sweats, and unexplained weight loss.
  • Parkinson’s disease — Parkinson’s disease is a kind of brain disorder that causes unintended or uncontrollable movements, such as stiffness, shaking, and difficulty with balance or coordination. This disease also affects a person’s nervous system and other parts of the body controlled by the nerves. Common symptoms may include slowed movements, tremors, rigid muscles, loss of automatic movements, poor posture or balance, difficulty writing, and changes in speech.

Other Injuries Caused by Camp Lejeune Water Contamination

Veterans may also be diagnosed with many other health conditions or diseases and still get access to VA health care even when conditions are not presumptively service-connected for disability benefits. Such conditions could include breast cancer (in males as well as females), scleroderma, lung cancer, neurobehavioral effects, esophageal cancer, renal toxicity damage to the kidneys, female infertility, hepatic steatosis, and miscarriages. If you were a victim of Camp Lejeune water contamination do not hesitate to contact a Camp Lejeune lawyer.

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Camp Lejeune Contamination Environmental Effects

Several chemical substances were identified by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as being contaminants of concern (COCs) for Camp Lejeune. COCs refer to chemical substances found at Camp Lejeune that the EPA has determined pose an unacceptable risk to human health or the environment.

Substances the EPA evaluated are addressed by certain cleanup actions at Camp Lejeune. There is an entire list of contaminants on the EPA website, and every contaminant also lists the type of contaminated media, including groundwater, surface water, soil, or sediment.

To identify COCs, the EPA identified various people and ecological resources involving exposure to contamination found at the site, determined the amount and type of the contaminants present, and determined the human health or ecological effects that could result from contact with such contaminants. At the Tarawa Terrace Treatment Plant, PCE was the main contaminant, and the source of contamination was an off-base dry cleaning firm, ABC One-Hour Cleaners, with the shutting down of the most highly-contaminated wells occurring in February 1985.

The ATSDR completed water modeling for the Tarawa Terrace system. Its model results indicated that PCE concentration exceeded the current EPA maximum contaminant level in drinking water at the Tarawa Terrace water treatment plant for 346 months between November 1957 and February 1987.

Over time, PCE degrades in groundwater to trichloroethylene (TCE), trans-1,2-dichloroethylene (DCE), and vinyl chloride. The levels of such chemicals in the Tarawa Terrace drinking water system were also estimated.

Levels of PCE and PCE by-products in the drinking water serving homes in Tarawa Terrace are available on the ATSDR website. There was also detection of benzene during a sampling of the Tarawa Terrace drinking water system in 1985, but the level of detection was much lower than the current United States standard.

At the Hadnot Point Treatment Plant, TCE was the main contaminant, although some other contaminants detected in the finished water at Hadnot Point included PCE, trans 1,2-dichloroethylene (DCE), benzene, and vinyl chloride. There were also reported detections of benzene in the finished water at Hadnot Point in late 1985.

There was the involvement of multiple sources of contamination at Hadnot Point, including both leaking waste disposal sites and underground storage tanks. The most highly contaminated wells had been shut down by February 1985.

PCE has high vapor pressure, which means much of it entering into the environment exists as a vapor in the air, where it may break down by sunlight, or be brought back to the land surface through the rain. Liquid PCE can be denser than water, and it has a limited tendency to mix with, or dissolve in, water.

Liquid PCE will tend to move downward and may exist in groundwater as a separate dense non-aqueous phase liquid that collects or pools at or along lower points. Smaller amounts of PCE can dissolve in surface water or groundwater.

Studies of Neurobehavioral Effects at Camp Lejeune

There have been multiple studies performed regarding neurobehavioral effects at Camp Lejeune. A report by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) noted that a 2009 National Research Council (NRC) study on contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune found limited or suggestive evidence of an association between exposure to mixed solvents and neurobehavioral effects, and such conclusion had a basis on a 2003 Institute of Medicine (IOM) report also fiding there was limited or suggestive evidence of an association between the solvents and neurobehavioral effects.

The committee chose to broadly define neurobehavioral effects to include all neurologic and behavioral effects (including many disorders, diseases, deficits, and symptoms) because neurobehavioral symptoms or test findings might be indicative of neurologic or behavioral problems. The committee reviewed the evidence gathered and synthesized by the 2009 NRC study and the 2003 IOM committees, as well as identified new evidence.

The NCBI study concluded that long-term exposure to low concentrations of the chemical trichloroethylene (TCE) was associated with neurobehavioral deficits. The University of Pittsburgh conducted studies examining the effects of chemical solvents on exposed subjects and found that poor concentration, social alienation, anxiety, and learning or memory impairments were especially common in addition to hyperactivity and behavioral issues in children with exposure to VOCs.

Epidemiological studies have suggested a higher frequency of neurological and psychiatric symptoms for exposed workers than those who were not exposed. The World Health Organization (WHO) Neurobehavioral Core Test Battery (WHO-NCTB) is a test battery designed to identify neurotoxic effects in human populations developed at a meeting held in 1983 by both the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and WHO.

That meeting sought to identify a core set of tests to be used in every study to help develop a body of evidence from the same set of tests, and propose more tests for in-depth characterization of the effects of chemical exposures. The test selection guidelines for the core tests developed at the meeting were to choose tests that detected positive effects in published studies, measuring functions affected by multiple neurotoxicants, were reliable and have construct validity, were relatively culture-free, returned a reasonable amount of information for the time committed to the test, and were motivating to take.

The WHO-NCTB, the Neurobehavioral Evaluation System (NES)-2 computerized battery, and there was use of four additional South African tests in a later NCBI study. The Adult Environmental Neurobehavioral Test Battery (AENTB) evaluates major neurobehavioral domains and functions and with later adoption by the ATSDR.

Help with Cancers Linked to Camp Lejeune

Most VOCs leave the body within a mere week of last exposure, so a majority of testing may not be able to determine whether you were exposed to such chemicals at Camp Lejeune because the exposure was usually many years ago. No specific medical tests have a recommendation for the exposures identified above, so you are instead instructed by ATSDR to continuously monitor your health and get regular medical check-ups, discussing conditions with your physician.

A person can obtain their medical records by contacting the National Personnel Records Center, Military Personnel Records (NPRC-MPR), which keeps all personnel, health, and medical records of discharged and deceased veterans for every service while they were in the military. NPRC-MPR also keeps medical treatment records for retirees from every service, as well as records for dependent and other persons treated at naval medical facilities.

Information from these records is made available upon written request, although requests must contain enough information to locate such a record. The information will include your complete name as it appears on the service records, your service number or social security number, your branch of service, and your dates of service.

Dates and place of birth may also be helpful, especially when your service number is unknown. If a request pertains to a record that could have been involved in the 1973 Records Center fire, you also need to include your place of discharge, last unit of assignment, and place of entry into the service, when known.

Send written requests to:

  • National Personnel Records Center
  • Military Personnel Records
  • 9700 Page Avenue
  • St. Louis, MO 63132-5100

The ATSDR does not provide advice about any claims or compensation but instead directs people to contact the Navy Judge Advocate General (JAG) at (202) 685-4600. If you need additional advice to help with filing a claim, you should consult a  Camp Lejeune lawyer.

Camp Lejeune Lawsuit FAQ’s

1. Is There a Camp Lejeune Class Action Lawsuit?

As soon as the U.S. Senate approves the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, passed in March 2022, and becomes a law, any person who was exposed to the Camp Lejeune contaminated water will be able to fill a claim seeking compensation against the U.S. government.

2. Who Can File a Camp Lejeune Lawsuit?

Anyone, family member, or soldier, who lived or worked on Camp Lejeune for at least one month, between August 1, 1953 and December 31, 1987, and was exposed to the contaminated water, is eligible to file a claim.

3. Can I File a Claim in Chicago?

It doesn’t matter where the victim resides. Any person, including veterans and family members, who lived at Camp Lejeune for at least 1 month can fill a claim. If you need professional guidance please contact a Camp Lejeune lawyer right away.

4. What Can Camp Lejeune Victims Sue For?

Eligible victims of Camp Lejeune water contamination can file a claim against the U.S. government if they suffered physical injuries or diseases associated with the exposure to the toxic water at Camp Lejeune.

5. Can I File a Claim for Someone at Camp Lejeune Who Died Already?

Yes. The Camp Lejeune wrongful death claim will be the same as an ordinary wrongful death claim without considering the statute of limitations. The best Camp Lejeune attorney will give you a clear explanation of wrongful death laws and the process to file a lawsuit.

6. How Much Would I Receive For A Camp Lejeune Settlement?

An estimation based on the Camp Lejeune lawsuit cancer cases, the settlement amount could be between $150,000 and $750,000, expecting a higher amount for those who were diagnosticated with Parkinson’s disease caused for this contaminated water.

You Need The Best Camp Lejeune Lawyer on Your Side, Call Us Today!

If you are or where a service member who is now suffering from some kind of cancer following service at Camp Lejeune, you will want to make sure you secure legal assistance with recovering all of the compensation you might be entitled to. Malman Law has an unparalleled level of success in its handling of these types of cases.

Our firm will be able to thoroughly examine your military records and prove the necessary connection to help you qualify for the VA benefits you need and deserve. You can call us at (888) 711-7955 or contact us online to set up a free consultation that will allow us to review your case and fully discuss all of the legal options you might have.

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