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Lejeune Litigation Team

Bell Legal Group is fighting for Lejeune Justice after five decades of disease and deceit.

Were you aware that, spanning several decades, families were unwittingly using contaminated water for drinking and bathing at Camp Lejeune? Between 1953 and 1987, more than one million individuals living or working at U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina were subjected to water contamination, ultimately leading to fatalities, illnesses, and life-changing health challenges.

The CLJA TEAM could potentially assist you in seeking damages, even if you have previously received government compensation for a diagnosis linked to Camp Lejeune. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at (843) 546-2408, or contact us online. Our compassionate team is available to discuss your options.

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Lejeune Litigation Attorneys

The Camp Lejeune tragedy unfolded between 1953 and 1987 when wells at the United States Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina, became tainted with industrial solvent compounds such as trichloroethylene (TCE), perchloroethylene (PCE), benzene, and vinyl chloride.

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The contamination remained largely unrecognized until 1984 when a small group of Marines, who were residing on the base, began reporting various health issues. These included primarily birth defects among their children and multiple common cancers among family members. All of these individuals had been exposed to the contaminated water for years before its potential harm was acknowledged.

It was only after extensive investigations by environmental scientists and lawyers that the military realized its mistake. By then, thousands of people had already been exposed to the toxic chemicals, resulting in enduring health complications such as cancer, infertility, birth defects, and other serious medical conditions linked to their exposure. Tragically, there have even been confirmed cases of fatal illnesses directly linked to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune. It is estimated that up to a million people may have consumed or otherwise been exposed to contaminated drinking water while stationed or living at Camp Lejeune during this time period.

To address these issues, the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 was enacted. The law allows anyone who spent time at Camp Lejeune for no less than 30 days between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987 to sue the U.S. Government.

The Camp Lejeune Justice Act has provided an avenue for individuals to obtain the much-needed relief to those who suffered due to the water contamination at Camp Lejeune. Ed Bell and the Bell Legal Group Lejeune Attorney Team are committed to assisting Lejeune Families® of this tragedy.

Injuries Linked to the Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Tragedy

Illnesses, injuries, and deformities—all stemming from contaminated water. The Camp Lejeune tragedy has inflicted devastating impacts on numerous veterans and their families spanning several years. From physical ailments like cancer and infertility to mental health challenges including PTSD and depression, these individuals endure enduring health repercussions due to their exposure to toxic water.

CLJA LITIGATION TEAM is ready to advocate for you if you were exposed to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune between 1953 and 1987 and subsequently experienced any health conditions including but not limited to the following:

  • 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
  • Parkinson’s disease
Sign reading "EPA Superfund Site - No Trespassing"

Compensation for Victims of Toxic Water

To obtain compensation for health conditions stemming from exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, you must establish that you resided or worked at the facility for a minimum of 30 days at any point between 1953 and 1987. Although this may appear straightforward, securing the full compensation you deserve for this tragedy can often be more challenging than expected. At Bell Legal Group, our CLJA LITIGATION TEAM is dedicated to all Lejeune Families® .  

If a loved one succumbed to the effects of contaminated water exposure at Camp Lejeune, you might be eligible to pursue a claim to secure compensation on their behalf. We can assess whether you have the legal standing to initiate such a claim and guide you through the process.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the PACT Act?

THE PACT ACT IS A VETERANS HEALTH CARE BILL THAT CONTAINS THE CAMP LEJEUNE JUSTICE ACT.

This opens up a two-year window for individuals harmed by the water at Camp Lejeune to pursue damages through the courts. Currently, legal actions are restricted due to a unique North Carolina statute known as the statute of repose, which permits lawsuits only within 10 years after exposure.

It’s important to note that this is not a VA claim, nor is it connected to the VA presumptive list. It’s a lawsuit against the government in federal courts, and it does not guarantee an automatic settlement; you must win your case.

The majority of the PACT Act addresses issues related to burn pits and other toxins. Our focus centers on Section 804, which you can review in its entirety on the following pages before we provide a detailed explanation.

804. FEDERAL CAUSE OF ACTION RELATING TO WATER AT CAMP LEJEUNE

Short Title.—This section may be cited as the “Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022”.

In General.—An individual, including a veteran (as defined in section 101 of title 38, United States Code), or the legal representative of such an individual, who resided, worked, or was otherwise exposed (including in utero exposure) for not less than 30 days during the period beginning on August 1, 1953, and ending on December 31, 1987, to water at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, that was supplied by, or on behalf of, the United States may bring an action in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina to obtain appropriate relief for harm that was caused by exposure to the water at Camp Lejeune.

Burdens And Standard Of Proof.

IN GENERAL.—The burden of proof shall be on the party filing the action to show one or more

relationships between the water at Camp Lejeune and the harm.

STANDARDS.—To meet the burden of proof described in paragraph (1), a party shall produce evidence showing that the relationship between exposure to the water at Camp Lejeune and the harm is—

(A) sufficient to conclude that a causal relationship exists; or

(B) sufficient to conclude that a causal relationship is at least as likely as not.

(d) Exclusive Jurisdiction And Venue.—The United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina shall have exclusive jurisdiction over any action filed under subsection (b), and shall be the exclusive venue for such an action. Nothing in this subsection shall impair the right of any party to a trial by jury.

(e) Exclusive Remedy.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—An individual, or legal representative of an individual, who brings an action under this section for a harm described in subsection (b), including a latent disease, may not thereafter bring a tort action against the United States for such harm pursuant to any other law.

(2) HEALTH AND DISABILITY BENEFITS RELATING TO WATER EXPOSURE.—Any award made to an individual, or legal representative of an individual, under this section shall be offset by the amount of any disability award, payment, or benefit provided to the individual, or legal representative—

(A) under—

(i) any program under the laws administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs;

(ii) the Medicare program under title XVIII of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1395 et seq.); or

(iii) the Medicaid program under title XIX of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1396 et seq.); and

(B) in connection with health care or a disability relating to exposure to the water at Camp Lejeune.

(f) Immunity Limitation.—The United States may not assert any claim to immunity in an action under this section that would otherwise be available under section 2680(a) of title 28, United States Code.

(g) No Punitive Damages.—Punitive damages may not be awarded in any action under this section.

(h) Disposition By Federal Agency Required.—An individual may not bring an action under this

section before complying with section 2675 of title 28, United States Code.

(i) Exception For Combatant Activities.—This section does not apply to any claim or action arising out of the combatant activities of the Armed Forces.

(j) Applicability; Period For Filing.—

(1) APPLICABILITY.—This section shall apply only to a claim accruing before the date of enactment of this Act.

(2) STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS.—A claim in an action under this section may not be commenced after the later of…

(A) the date that is two years after the date of the enactment of this act

(B) the date that is 180 days after the date on which the claim is denied under section 2675 of title 28, United States Code.

(3) INAPPLICABILITY OF OTHER LIMITATIONS.—Any applicable statute of repose or statute of limitations, other than under paragraph (2), shall not apply to a claim under this section.

Is this a class action?

No. First, let’s clarify a term: A class action involves a group of plaintiffs with a shared complaint against a single defendant.

While Camp Lejeune involves a common complaint (toxic water) against one defendant (the government) from a substantial group of individuals (all of you), we will not be pursuing it as a class action. Why? Because in a class action, plaintiffs are considered as a single entity rather than as individuals, and any compensation is typically divided equally among them. We believe that each person’s claim should be evaluated on its own merits.

Now, consider another term: A mass tort is a process where numerous cases with similar allegations are consolidated for efficiency during the legal proceedings, but each claim retains its individuality and is assessed based on its unique circumstances.

In practice, this could mean that cases with similar medical diagnoses are grouped together, such as all cases involving Parkinson’s disease. However, it’s essential to understand that each case within a mass tort will be considered independently.

Do I have to have a specific illness?

No. It’s as straightforward as that.

Many of you are likely aware of the illnesses designated by the VA as “presumptive” – indicating that the government acknowledges there is scientific evidence linking those illnesses to the chemicals in the water. These diseases include conditions like adult leukemia, bladder cancer, kidney cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and so forth.

HOWEVER, THOSE CONDITIONS APPLY TO VA CLAIMS. The Camp Lejeune Justice Act DOES NOT pertain to VA claims.

Here is the precise language from the bill concerning eligibility:

An individual, including a veteran( as defined in section 101 of title 38, United States Code), or the legal representative of such an individual, who resided, worked, or was otherwise exposed (including in utero exposure) for not less than 30 days during the period beginning on August 1, 1953, and ending on December 31, 1987, to water at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, that was supplied by, or on behalf of, the United States may bring an action in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina to obtain appropriate relief for harm that was caused by exposure to the water at Camp Lejeune.

Naturally, individuals with a presumptive illness may find it somewhat easier to establish their case. However, this doesn’t imply that others are ineligible or that a connection between the contaminated water and their illness cannot be established.

What are offsets?

An offset is a reduction applied to a settlement or jury award to account for the money the government has already expended on your illness.

In simpler terms, it’s the government’s method of ensuring it doesn’t pay for the same expenses twice.

The precise phrasing from the Camp Lejeune Justice Act is:

HEALTH AND DISABILITY BENEFITS RELATING TO WATER EXPOSURE.—Any award made to an individual, or legal representative of an individual, under this section shall be offset by the amount of any disability award, payment, or benefit provided to the individual, or legal representative—

(A)under—

(i) any program under the laws administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs;

(ii) the Medicare program under title XVIII of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1395 et seq.); or

(iii) the Medicaid program under title XIX of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1396 et seq.); and

(B) in connection with health care or a disability relating to exposure to the water at Camp Lejeune.

This provision applies exclusively to payments associated with Camp Lejeune. Therefore, if Medicare covered your hospital expenses for a broken leg resulting from an accident, it won’t be factored into the offset. However, if the VA paid for your Parkinson’s medication, and you’re pursuing a case against the government due to water-related illness, that sum will be subtracted from your settlement or jury award.

Your attorney will endeavor to minimize these offset amounts through negotiation.

It’s important to note that this is a standard practice in all civil litigation and is not specific to Camp Lejeune cases.

What if I’m not sick?

YOU CAN REQUEST MEDICAL MONITORING.

The Camp Lejeune Justice Act provides an avenue for individuals who spent at least 30 days at Camp Lejeune between 1953 and 1987 to seek justice for their illnesses.

Fortunately, not all individuals stationed there have fallen ill.

Though the scientific latency period has elapsed, concerns and fears remain.

Our firm is committed to pursuing a claim for medical monitoring on behalf of these individuals. This entails requesting the government to cover medical expenses such as scans and blood work, enabling people to proactively monitor their health and detect any conditions as early as possible.

I’m signed up. Now what?

FILING AN ADMINISTRATIVE CLAIM WITH THE DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY.

The Camp Lejeune Justice Act stipulates that individuals impacted by the water at Camp Lejeune must initiate a claim with the relevant government agency BEFORE proceeding with a federal court lawsuit. In this instance, the responsible agency is the Department of the Navy.

Here is the pertinent text from the legislation in question:

(h) Disposition By Federal Agency Required.—An individual may not bring an action under this section before complying with section 2675 of title 28, United States Code.

This process is distinct from a VA claim, meaning that even if you’ve already initiated a VA claim, you must still file a claim with the Department of the Navy.

Your attorney will handle the filing of your claim, essentially notifying the government of your intentions.

This claim primarily requires your legal name, date of birth, date of death (if applicable), your dates on base, and a list of your medical conditions. No medical or military records are necessary during this stage; we collect all necessary information during the intake process.

Upon submission of the claim, the Department of the Navy must acknowledge receipt. They then have a six-month window to take one of the following actions:

  • Approve and provide a financial settlement
  • Deny
  • Ignore

*In the case of denial or disregard, after six months, we have the option to file a lawsuit in federal court.

What happens in a Camp Lejeune lawsuit?

Typically, the legal process follows a sequence of steps: Complaint -> Answer -> Discovery -> Motions -> Mediation -> Trial.

Complaint – This document marks the beginning of a lawsuit. You are the Plaintiff, and the United States of America is the Defendant. In this filing, attorneys outline the facts of your case and specify the causes of action (the government’s alleged wrongdoing). After filing the Complaint, it is served on the Defendant.

Answer – Once served, the Defendant has a designated timeframe to submit an Answer. This document allows the Defendant to respond to each allegation within the Complaint.

Discovery – The case then enters the Discovery phase, during which the parties request and exchange information. This may encompass military records, medical records, government agency reports, investigations, and other written or electronic materials. Discovery also encompasses taking deposition testimonies of parties, lay individuals, and expert witnesses.

Motions – After Discovery concludes, deadlines are established for filing Motions. During this stage, parties can request the judge to rule on various pretrial matters, ranging from evidentiary decisions to motions for dismissal. If the judge determines that the case should proceed, it moves on to the next step.

Mediation – Typically, the court mandates that the parties engage in Mediation. Here, the Plaintiff and Defendant meet with a neutral third party in an attempt to reach a resolution for the case.

Trial – Finally, if the case remains unsettled before the trial’s commencement, it proceeds to the courtroom. Each side delivers an opening statement, presents evidence and witnesses, and concludes with closing arguments before the jury deliberates for a verdict.

Where will the cases be heard?

NORTH CAROLINA.

Here is the precise wording from the legislation:

In General.—An individual, including a veteran (as defined in section 101 of title 38, United States Code), or the legal representative of such an individual, who resided, worked, or was otherwise exposed (including in utero exposure) for not less than 30 days during the period beginning on August 1, 1953, and ending on December 31, 1987, to water at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, that was supplied by, or on behalf of, the United States may bring an action in the United States District Court for Eastern District of North Carolina to obtain appropriate relief for harm that was caused by exposure to the water at Camp Lajeune.

This implies that the federal courts in the Eastern District of North Carolina have jurisdiction.

Will you need to travel to North Carolina? The likelihood is no. In the event your case goes to trial, then yes, your presence would be required. However, it’s important to note that fewer than 1 percent of cases actually reach the courtroom. The majority of cases result in some form of settlement.

Can I file for a deceased family member?

YES. HOWEVER, YOU MUST BE APPOINTED AS THE PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE OF THEIR ESTATE.

This role may be referred to as an executor, executrix, or administrator.

An estate is the legal entity responsible for managing a person’s assets and debts after their passing. A deceased individual cannot be named as a plaintiff in a lawsuit or receive settlement funds.

The estate serves as the means through which the personal representative can file on their behalf. In a wrongful death lawsuit, the plaintiff would be identified as “John Doe, personal representative for the Estate of Jane Doe.”

For instance, in South Carolina, one common method involves filing a petition with the probate court. If the decedent had a Will, you would seek an informal appointment, and if there was no Will, you would seek a formal appointment.

Laws governing this process can vary by state and sometimes by county, so it may be advisable to reach out to your local probate court to understand the specific regulations in your area. Alternatively, you could consult with a local probate attorney who can assist you in navigating the process.

To move forward with your case, we will require a Certificate of Appointment or Letter of Administration.

Upon conclusion of the case, any settlement funds would be issued to the estate and distributed in accordance with the terms of the will, or if there is no will, based on the laws of intestacy in your state.

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J. Edward Bell III

Founder and Senior Partner

South Carolina attorney Ed Bell founded Bell Legal Group more than 40 years ago. With offices in Georgetown, SC, and Raleigh, NC, he focuses his practice on a variety of cases that range from medical malpractice, personal injury, automobile safety and defects, product liability, environmental law, police misconduct, and prison abuse.

J.Edward Bell III

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219 Ridge St.
Georgetown, SC 29440
(843) 438-7480

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751 Corporate Center Drive, Suite 300
Raleigh, NC 27607
(919) 277-9299

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