Many military service personnel and their families who resided and worked at Camp Lejeune were exposed to harmful chemicals from 1953 to 1987. Most workers and their families suffered injuries and sickness after consuming contaminated water, and the damages still haunt them. Whether or not you have a lawsuit after drinking contaminated water will depend on the facts of your injuries and sickness. For example, the judge will consider the time between consuming the contaminated water and the onset of water poisoning. Your lawsuit will be easier to prove if the same water also affected other individuals. Your case will also be easy to establish if a government agency associates your damages with the contaminated water. You could wonder if you have a claim if you suffered injuries or fell sick because of Camp Lejeune water contamination. Our lawyers at Consumer Alert Now can evaluate your lawsuit and assist you in pursuing your deserved compensation in the U.S.
Overview Of Camp Lejeune
Camp Lejeune is a U.S. Marine Corps Base located on the eastern seacoast in Jacksonville, North Carolina. Camp Lejeune has served as a temporary and permanent home for many members of the military and their families since its establishment in 1942. It has also served as a home and working station for thousands of workers and contractors. Camp Lejeune is part of a combined facility with the New River Marine Corps Air Station. In addition, camp Lejeune hosts marine expeditionary forces and other units.
Unfortunately, contaminated water at this base exposed many people to serious health complications between the early 1950s and the late 1980s. Most employees in this base suffered disabilities because of the impure water without receiving any compensation. The members of the service and their families were using the dirty water for cooking, doing laundry, bathing, and drinking.
The good news is that veteran service members who resided at the base during the early 1950s and late 1980s and suffered permanent physical injuries can now claim disability benefits. In addition, once the new pending federal law is enacted, the victims can seek compensation for damages provided they resided in the base during that period.
The veteran's administration could have refuted the allegations of illness and disability, but the new law is a source of hope. According to the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022, you could seek compensation if you resided at the base between 1953 and 1987 and suffered cancer or other health complications.
The Causes Of Water Contamination In Camp Lejeune
In the 1980s, the test carried out on the water at Camp Lejeune revealed that it was contaminated. The chemicals from the water treatment installations and a dry-cleaning company in the area caused the contamination. The Tarawa terrace and Hadnot Point water treatment plants are among the companies accused of the contamination. The chemicals exposed the soldiers and the civilians to many times the ATSDR recommended safe limits for similar poisonous substances.
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) revealed several impurity sources for water in Camp Lejeune. They included underground storehouse tanks and waste disposal spots. Volatile Organic Compounds are poisonous chemicals at Camp Lejeune and constitute items like dry-cleaning agents and degreasers. A dry-cleaning company near the base was using similar detergents, polluting the underground water. The areas around Camp Lejeune also had industrial and waste disposal spots, which caused water contamination.
The ATSDR also claims the wells supplying the base exceeded their set limits. Typically, the contamination was discovered in 1982, but it took more than three years to close down the wells. However, further studies revealed that additional chemicals could pose a health risk. The most common and dangerous of these chemicals include:
Investigations involving employees exposed to toluene show an increased occurrence of cancers of the esophagus, stomach, lungs, breasts, colon, and especially the rectum. In addition, toluene is also known to increase the risk of Hodgkin's lymphoma and non-Hodgkins, as well as lymphosarcoma and lymph leukemia in employees exposed to it.
Burning plastics like PVC pipes lead to the production of vinyl chloride chemicals. Vinyl chloride chemical is carcinogenic and can cause multiple forms of cancer, including testicular, colon, and angiosarcoma. Studies reveal that exposure to vinyl chloride causes five times greater angiosarcoma lung and liver cancer rates.
Benzene is a typical carcinogen, which typically promotes non-Hodgkins lymphoma, acute myeloid leukemia (AML), chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), and multiple myeloma.
Trichloroethylene (TCE) And Perchloroethylene (PCE)
TCE is a chemical used to produce hydrofluorocarbons. Generally, it was used on military equipment and as a degreaser. TCE heavily defiled the Hadnot point facility. Several studies have shown that TCE and PCE can increase the risk of developing multiple cancers, including kidney and liver, along with some support for Hodgkin's and non-Hodgkin's carcinoma. TCE is also a possible cause of cervical cancer. Other studies also claim the relationship between TCE with several myeloma and laryngeal, prostate, and colon cancers.
Laundry and dry cleaning, usually involving TCE and PCE, is also believed to cause lung, cervical, esophageal, kidney, and pancreatic cancers. In addition, there are also increasing speculations that TCE and PCE cause colon, bladder, and prostate cancers.
Other largely carcinogenic chemicals were present at Camp Lejeune besides the above-listed chemicals. Chemicals include mercury, pesticides, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and other heavy metals.
Effects Of Water Contamination In Camp Lejeune
The dangerous chemicals highlighted above have been associated with several health complications, including:
- Hepatic steatosis.
- Neurobehavioral effects.
- Myelodysplastic syndrome.
- Bladder cancer.
- Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma.
- Multiple myeloma.
- Female infertility.
- Renal toxicity.
- Lung cancer.
- Bone cancer.
- Kidney cancer.
- Esophageal cancer.
Most veterans previously living at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune and their families suffered disabilities and severe health complications because of water contamination from 1953 to 1987. During this period, the poisonous chemicals found in the water were associated with cancer and other diseases, including hepatic steatosis. Hepatic steatosis is a disease characterized by fat accumulation in the liver. However, the inflammation could develop, and the condition would progress. In this case, the disease is called steatohepatitis.
Typically, fatty liver disease is caused by alcohol consumption. Still, studies show that non-drinkers, including people regularly exposed to poisonous chemicals at their workplace. Toxicants associated with steatohepatitis included nitrobenzene, TCE, PCE, and vinyl chloride. Toxicant-associated steatohepatitis is caused mainly by PCE in humans and animals. High levels of vinyl chloride cause occupational liver disease.
Neurobehavioral issues influence how your brain communicates with your nervous system. The effects can manifest as learning, behavioral, emotional, or physical problems. For example, poisons like volatile organic substances in contaminated water at Camp Lejeune resulted in severe behavioral effects in exposed individuals. Military service workers and their families who resided and worked at Camp Lejeune from 1953 to 1987 were exposed to these chemicals.
You could experience the symptoms based on the amount of exposure to the chemicals. You could also have symptoms depending on the amount of damage to the brain. Unfortunately, you will not even realize that you are experiencing signs associated with contaminated water at Camp Lejeune. Some of the symptoms of neurobehavioral effects that you could experience include:
- Changes in personality or mood.
- Learning disorders.
- Difficulty concentrating.
- Parkison's disease.
- Motor problems, including balance and coordination problems.
- Memory problems.
- Involuntary muscle movement (dyskinesia or dystonia).
- Lack of coordination.
- Sensory disturbances.
- Trouble concentrating.
Exposure to toxins could also cause changes in neurobehavioral tests, including the following:
- Defects in motor function.
- Defects, in contrast, sensitivity.
- Defects in reaction time.
- Defects in digit symbols.
- Defects in visuomotor coordination.
- Defects in attention.
You do experience the symptoms of contaminated water immediately after exposure. The neurobehavioral effects can take anywhere from minutes to years. If you were exposed to low toxins quickly, you may have mild reversible effects. Long-term exposure to substantial levels of poisonous chemicals can cause permanent neurological problems.
Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS)
Myelodysplastic syndromes are uncommon blood cancers caused by malfunctioning or poorly formed blood cells. This disease is usually caused by problems with the bone marrow, which produces blood cells. Physicians once called myelodysplastic syndromes precancerous conditions like smoldering leukemia or preleukemia. Today, physicians label this disease as a group of cancers. There are several groups of MDS, including:
- MDS with isolated Del — The disease is characterized by missing bone marrow chromosome number 5. Two cells also have low numbers of chromosomes, including dysplasia.
- MDS with excess blasts — The disease is characterized by more blasts than usual and a severe bone marrow dysplasia.
- MDS with ring sideroblasts — This disease is characterized by a significant percentage of the blood cells having iron deposits around their nucleus.
- Single lineage dysplasia — This is an MDS characterized by low numbers of two to three types of cells, early dysplasia in one type of cell, and reduced or no blasts in the blood.
- Multilineage dysplasia —This is an MDS characterized by abnormalities in two or three types of early cells; one type of cell has low numbers of cells and blasts in the bone but not in the blood.
- Unclassified MDS— These are rare, with characteristics that do not fit other types of MDS.
Some of the symptoms you could experience include the following:
Unusual or easy bleeding or bruising
- Pallor because of anemia.
- Shortness of breath.
In most cases, the cause of myelodysplastic syndromes is unknown. However, some studies show that exposure to benzene causes myelodysplastic syndromes.
Physicians always treat MDS depending on the patient's cancer-specific characteristics. The more significant treatment categories include:
- Pharmaceutical companies are working to develop MDS drugs. You can access these therapies by participating in myelodysplastic syndromes clinical drug trials.
- Chemotherapy with stem cell transplant — This treatment kills cancer cells, and it is a procedure that involves thawing, freezing, removing, and replacing your stem cells after the procedure.
- Drug therapy is the treatment where a drug focuses on specific cancer — The procedures involved include chemotherapy, immunosuppressive therapy, and others.
- Supportive care — This treatment involves antibiotic therapy, stimulating agents to increase blood cells, and transfusion therapy to fight infections.
Scleroderma is one of the diseases caused by exposure to poisonous chemicals in the water. Dangerous chemicals seeped into the treatment plants serving Camp Lejeune for years, causing severe harm to individuals who resided and worked at the base. Scleroderma is an autoimmune connective tissue and rheumatic disease.
This disease generally begins with a faulty immune response, which makes the body produce excess collagen. Your organs, joints, and skin respond to the collagen by forming hard, dense patches, similar to a scar. Since connective tissues protect and support a person's body and its systems, the buildup of collagen causes substantial physical issues. Doctors also refer to scleroderma as a rheumatic disease that causes pain in fibrous tissue, joints, and muscles. Other symptoms of scleroderma disease include:
- Abnormal heartbeat.
- High blood pressure.
- Shortness of breath.
- Digestive system problems.
- Extreme sensitivity to cold or stress.
- Visibility of blood vessels through the skin.
- Lumps caused by calcium deposits.
- Skin sores.
- A restricted or limited moment in the wrists, fingers, hands, and other body parts if the hardened skin forms over the joint.
- Swollen, extremely itchy, dry skin.
Several treatments can manage scleroderma because it has no cure. A medical regimen focuses on some goals, including:
- Continuous monitoring.
- Preventing the disease's progression through dental care, stress management, proper diet, skin protection, joint protection, and exercise.
Bladder cancer is also a relatively common disease caused by heavy metals, toxins, and long-term exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune. Typically, it starts with a few cancerous cells that develop fast and spread throughout the entire urinary system, including the kidneys and ureter tubes. It can be managed with an early diagnosis, but it could be fatal if it progresses to other organs, blood, bones. The symptoms associated with bladder cancer include:
- Back pains.
- Frequent urination.
- Discomfort during urination.
- Blood in urine.
Several treatments are available for bladder cancer treatment. They include:
- Removal of bladder.
- Extraction of cancerous tissue followed by radiation, chemotherapy, and follow-up care.
Bladder cancer treatment is usually expensive and painful. The extraction of the bladder is a procedure that can affect the quality of your life. On the other hand, chemotherapy can cause side effects like
- Reduced immune system.
- Weight loss.
- Hair loss.
Recovery Of Damages
You are eligible for Veterans Affairs (VA) compensation if you resided at Camp Lejeune and your loved one suffered any of the above conditions. You could seek compensation if you paid for your medical care without being to by programs like copays or deductibles. You could also be eligible if the following is true:
Your qualifying veteran resided at the base for 30 days or more from August 1, 1953, to December 31, 1987,
- You were a spouse or dependent of the veteran during the same time.
- The veteran worked at Camp Lejeune for 30 days or more during the same time.
- The veteran was active in service at the base for 30 days or more during the same time.
The infants born of pregnant mothers at Camp Lejeune are also eligible for compensation.
The Victims And Janey Ensminger Act
The marine officers and the U.S. authorities understood quick action was needed after the disturbing revelation of water contamination at Camp Lejeune. Jerry Ensminger joined the fight after several attempts by the Senate and the House Veterans' Committee members to request healthcare be provided to the victims.
Jerry Ensminger filed a petition against the U.S. authorities to have healthcare provided to the veterans who had suffered injuries because of the water contamination. Jerry Ensminger got involved because his daughter, Janey, had suffered cancer from contamination after staying at Camp Lejeune for some time. Janey succumbed to cancer in 1985, when she was only nine years old.
Jerry Ensminger's efforts bore fruit; on July 18, 2012, the Senate passed the Janey Ensminger Act. The Act was passed to honor both Jerry and his daughter. The bill allowed the veterans and their loved ones who resided at Camp Lejeune from 1957 to 1987 to receive medical services. Additionally, individuals who suffered any condition or disease after living at the Marine Base qualify for healthcare. President Obama signed the Act into law on August 6, 2012, after the House approved it on July 31, 2012.
The Janey Ensminger Act applies to specific afflictions and conditions alleged to be associated with poison in the base's water. The Department of Veterans Affairs is responsible for providing medical care. You should seek the services of a water contamination attorney if you fall under the restrictions and requirements highlighted under the Janey Ensminger Act.
Camp Lejeune Justice Act Of 2022
Four Republicans and five Democrats co-sponsored a bipartisan bill called the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022. The bill aimed to ensure individuals who suffered any conditions or ailments after staying at Camp Lejeune during the contamination were compensated. Typically, the bill was developed into the Honoring Our PACT Act of 2022. Generally, the Honoring Our PACT Act of 2022 gives veterans and their families the right to pursue compensation for different injuries resulting from contaminated water.
The Honoring Our PACT Act of 2022 overrules the past barriers to compensation for most veterans and their families who could not recover their deserved compensation. This Act could also change the current statute of limitations to two years for similar lawsuits once it is enacted into law.
Filing Of Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawsuit
Generally, the Janey Ensminger Act presumes a "presumptive service connection" for some illnesses and conditions caused by water contamination at Camp Lejeune. You, therefore, do not need to provide evidence that your health condition is associated with exposure to the toxins. Instead, you are only required to provide proof that you resided at Camp Lejeune during the water contamination for at least 30 days and developed the condition.
All the individuals who lived at Camp Lejeune from 1953 to 1987, including those in utero and their mothers who lived at the base, qualify. These individuals qualify for nursing home care, hospital care, and medical services via the Veterans Affairs Department for any condition or sickness caused by exposure to contaminated water.
Your disability must connect to your military service to obtain a Veteran Affairs disability rating. For most health conditions, you are required to provide evidence that your health condition is associated with your service. However, certain conditions are presumed or assumed to be caused by your service. This is the reason why they are known as presumptive conditions.
Often, the law or regulation is responsible for establishing presumptive conditions. If you have suffered a presumptive condition, you don't need to provide evidence that your service caused your health condition. Instead, you are only required to fulfill the service requirements for the presumption.
Before you file for a Veterans Affairs disability claim, you will need to do the following:
- Find out if you qualify for the compensation.
- Gather any support documents or evidence.
- Fill out your claim completely.
- Inquire if you will require to turn in any additional forms with your claim.
The evidence you will require while pursuing your VA disability claim includes the following:
- Supporting statements from people you served with, law enforcement personnel, clergy members, friends, and family members. The reports could provide more information regarding your alleged condition. The statements could also explain how or when it happened and how the situation worsened.
- Hospital records and private medical records related to your alleged injuries or records indicating that your disability has worsened.
- Hospital and veteran administration records related to your alleged injuries or sickness could indicate that your rate of disability has worsened.
Find A Class Action Attorney Near Me
If you have been a victim of Camp Lejeune water contamination between 1953 and 1987, you should seek the services of an experienced class action attorney. Your attorney will determine if you have a viable case concerning water contamination and assist you in joining a class action. Your attorney will also help you file a class action if none exists. At Consumer Alert Now, we will evaluate your lawsuit, ascertain if you have a case, and assist you in filing a class action in the U.S. Contact us at 800-511-0747 and talk to one of our attorneys.