Camp Lejeune Lawsuit

Legislation has made it possible for Camp Lejeune contaminated water victims to recover compensation for their injuries. The O’Mara Law Group mass torts practice can help victims who may have been exposed claim their rightfully deserved compensation.

Written and edited by our team of expert legal content writers and reviewed and approved by Attorney Mark O’Mara

Content last updated on: March 27, 2023

Camp Lejeune is the United States Marine Corps Base that is home to tens of thousands of Marines, Coastguardsmen, Sailors, and their families at any given time. From August 1, 1953, to December 31, 1987, as many as one million military and civilian personnel and family members may have been exposed to contaminated drinking water, according to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR).

Water Contamination at Camp Lejeune

Camp Lejeune residents used the water for drinking, bathing, swimming, and cooking without reservation because they trusted the military to provide safe living and working premises.

What substances contaminated the water?

The ATSDR determined that two of the primary water sources at Camp Lejeune were contaminated with the following volatile organic compounds:

  • Perchloroethylene, also known as tetrachloroethylene 
  • Trichloroethylene
  • Benzene
  • T-1,2-dichloroethylene, trichloroethylene byproducts
  • Vinyl chloride

How did the water become contaminated?

According to the ATSDR, the water at Camp Lejeune became contaminated through the following means:

  • ABC One-Hour Cleaners, an off-base dry cleaning company that improperly disposed of its dry cleaning chemical waste, which contained perchloroethylene
  • Leaking underground storage tanks
  • Industrial area spills
  • Waste disposal sites

When did the military know about the water contamination?

The military knew about the contamination at least as early as 1982, when, according to the ATSDR, the military discovered the volatile organic compounds. Despite its knowledge, the military failed to advise personnel or their families about the contamination and did not close the first well until 1985.

What are the health effects of Camp Lejeune’s contaminated water?

The health effects of the drinking water at Camp Lejeune have been devastating and even fatal for many of the exposed residents. The ATSDR has identified causal links or potentially causal links between Camp Lejeune water contamination and the following health conditions:

  • Bone marrow disorders
    • Aplastic anemia
    • Myelodysplastic syndromes
  • Birth defects
    • Cardiac defects
    • Choanal atresia (blocked nasal passages)
    • Eye defects
    • Fetal death
    • Low birth weight
    • Malformations
    • Miscarriage
    • Neural tube defects
    • Oral cleft defects (including cleft lip)
    • Small for gestational age
  • Cancers
    • Bladder cancer
    • Brain cancer
    • Breast cancer
    • Cervical cancer
    • Esophageal cancer
    • Hodgkin’s disease
    • Kidney cancer
    • Leukemia
    • Liver cancer
    • Lung cancer
    • Multiple myeloma
    • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
    • Ovarian cancer
    • Prostate cancer
    • Rectal cancer
    • Soft tissue cancer
  • Impaired immune system function and autoimmune diseases
    • Hypersensitivity skin disorder 
    • Scleroderma
  • Organ disorders
    • End-stage renal disease
    • Liver cirrhosis
  • Neurological effects
    • Attention deficits
    • Color vision impairment
    • Decreased blink reflex
    • Delayed reaction times
    • Mood effects
    • Short-term memory impairment
    • Visual perception effects
  • Parkinson’s disease

Justice for Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Victims

Camp Lejeune water contamination victims have suffered severely as a result of the contaminated water. They have become sick. They have lost loved ones, died prematurely, and lived through the anguish of their children’s deaths. Many suffer from lifelong illnesses and disabilities. They served their country, and they deserve justice.

Justice Denied

Justice was previously denied to those who were wrongfully exposed to toxic drinking water, thanks to the North Carolina statute of repose, which prohibits victims from filing a civil lawsuit against a negligent party more than ten years after the last cause of action. By the time most victims had learned about the contamination, the ten-year period had already lapsed.

Jerry Ensminger is a retired marine whose nine-year-old daughter tragically died of leukemia after being conceived, born, and raised at Camp Lejeune. According to ABC News, he first learned of the water contamination in 1997, after wondering for over a decade why his daughter had suffered such a fate.

The Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012

Jerry Ensminger fought for justice for Janey and the other military families who had been poisoned by Camp Lejeune water. In 2012, his efforts resulted in the passage of a bill named after his daughter, which allowed veterans and their affected family members to receive Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits.

VA Claims for Camp Lejeune Water Contamination

To receive VA benefits, military personnel and their families must file a claim with the VA. The VA offers disability payments and medical care to Camp Lejeune water contamination victims. To qualify, claimants must prove they lived on the base for at least 30 days during the prescribed period and have a health condition that can be traced back to the contamination.

Disability benefits are available to reservists, guardsmen, and veterans who have been diagnosed with a disabling condition that can be traced back to the Camp Lejeune water contamination. The VA has established a list of eight specific health conditions that qualify for a presumption of service connection. These conditions are as follows:

  • Adult leukemia
  • Aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes
  • Bladder cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Parkinson’s disease

While the VA offers health care benefits to most veterans, service-connected injuries and illnesses receive enhanced benefits. The VA provides a presumption of service connection for health care for the following 15 conditions:

  • Bladder cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Female infertility
  • Hepatic steatosis
  • Kidney cancer
  • Leukemia
  • Lung cancer
  • Miscarriage
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Myelodysplastic syndromes
  • Neurobehavioral effects
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Renal toxicity
  • Scleroderma

VA health care for families occurs in the form of reimbursement for costs related to the care of any of the 15 presumptive conditions.

Despite the severity of the injuries suffered, veterans and their families have experienced extreme difficulty receiving the benefits to which they are entitled through the VA.

Many of the illnesses victims experience are not on the list of presumptive conditions, and according to a CBS News report, only 17.3 percent of applications are approved. This figure was as low as one percent at one point.

The Camp Lejeune Justice Act

The shortcomings of the VA claims process underscore the need for a civil solution. The Camp Lejeune Justice Act, which has been added to the Honoring Our PACT Act, was signed into law on August 10, 2022. This law will allow water contamination victims at Camp Lejeune to circumvent the North Carolina statute of repose and file a Camp Lejeune contaminated water lawsuit.

This will also provide affected civilian employees with a means to claim compensation.

Because the class-action lawsuit is still pending trial, there has not been a settlement yet, and speculating on paraquat lawsuit settlement amounts can be tricky. However, your personal injury attorney from O’Mara Law Group will fight hard for the maximum settlement you’re entitled to.

What types of Camp Lejeune water contamination settlement amounts are expected?

This will be the first opportunity Camp Lejeune water contamination victims have had to file a Camp Lejeune cancer lawsuit, so there is no means by which to estimate settlement amounts.

Factors that contribute to an individual payout for Camp Lejeune victims include the extent of the injuries, the losses suffered, and the lifelong impact of those damages. Lawsuits may include personal injuries and wrongful death.

The types of damages that may be available include the following:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Lost business opportunities
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Funeral expenses
  • Burial expenses
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Mental anguish
  • Loss of companionship
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Loss of society

Punitive damages are not available.

When should I contact an attorney?

Though the law has not passed as of this writing, it is expected to pass in the immediate future. The number of victims is substantial, and many cases are expected.

Contacting a qualified mass tort attorney now will allow them to get a head start on preparing your case. The new law also imposes a statute of limitations of two years after it passes, so time will be limited.

O’Mara Law Group Is Accepting Camp Lejeune Lawsuit Cases

Mark O’Mara, the founder of the O’Mara Law Group, has a distinguished 40-year history of helping good people through the most difficult experiences of their lives. Mr. O’Mara is an authority in legal matters, who has earned immense respect from his peers and his clients.

He has taught at several law schools, including Harvard Law School, and has served as president of the Seminole County Bar Association and the National Trial Lawyers Association.

Mr. O’Mara uses a team approach to get the best results for his clients. His respected status in the legal sphere has enabled him to assemble a team of some of the most high-powered attorneys in the field, leading to stellar results for his clients:

“The O’Mara law group is a very distinguished, client-focused and caring team that provides excellent care. They were able to help me in creative ways. My result was great and most of all satisfying. I would recommend seeing Mark and his team if you have any issues, regardless of the matter…”

— Irfan Siddiqui

Camp Lejeune water contamination victims finally have the opportunity to access to the compensation they richly deserve for the harm they have suffered, but the window of opportunity is short. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

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