Camp Lejeune – Part 1 – The Basics
The Mass Tort Report on Camp Lejeune from LegalCalls.com by Attorney Jeff Keiser
To answer the questions readers of the Mass Tort Report are asking, we have assembled this 7 part “Deep Dive” series into the Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Litigation.
This is Section 1 of 7: Camp Lejeune – The Basics
1. Who are the potential claimants/plaintiffs?
Any person, veteran or not, that lived or worked at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days between August 1, 1953 and December 31, 1987, and later developed one of the conditions detailed below.
2. What conditions qualify?
The VA has issued a list of eight conditions that are presumed to be causally connected to the water contamination at Camp Lejeune:
- Adult leukemia
- Bladder cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Liver cancer
- Multiple myeloma
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Aplastic anemia or other myelodysplastic syndromes
Outside of that list of presumed conditions, others can be claimed with an additional showing of proof, including
- Breast cancer
- Esophageal cancer
- Female infertility
- Hepatic steatosis
- Lung cancer
- Renal toxicity
- and others
3. Do the 30 days of exposure need to be consecutive?
There has not been a ruling giving us a clear answer at this point and the statute is silent on the issue, but a claim would be stronger if you can show the 30 days were consecutive, and the longer the exposure, the better for your case.
4. Is there something a lawyer needs to do before filing a case in court?
Yes! You must file a claim form with the Department of the Navy. The form has been published and is available online and is very similar in style to a FTCA claim form.
This must be submitted and resolved before any lawsuit can be filed. At this time, no medical records are required to submit a claim form.
The claim form can be found at: https://www.jag.navy.mil/organization/documents/CLJA_Claims_Form.pdf.
5. What is the importance of the ‘sum certain’ on the claim form?
Much like with the FTCA claim form, you must include a claim for damages in a definite amount. Approximations or TBD will result in the filing being incomplete and will not comply with the regulation.
Importantly, this sum certain claim will be the maximum amount recoverable in court, so it’s always best to err on the high side. But don’t just throw out a massive number and hope for the best. Make sure to have a calculation of how you arrived at the figure, even if it is on the high side.
6. What’s the deadline for filing?
The legislation provides for a 2-year deadline for filing from the date it was signed into law. As such, the deadline for filing your claim with the Department of the Navy will be August 9, 2024.
Considering they have 6 months to respond to the claim form, the last date you will be able to file a complaint in court will be February 9, 2025. It’s always best to file far before that deadline in the event there are any issues with your claim form.
7. When will settlements be paid out?
As the claim form process is just beginning and the Department of the Navy has 6 months to respond, we don’t know the time frame for the first awards.
We do expect the strongest claims to be paid rather quickly through that process, but also expect most of these claims to require litigation.
In short, we’re looking at 6 months for the strongest cases, and several years for the weaker ones.
Craig H. Alinder, Vice President