Camp Lejeune – Part 6 – Tips to Avoid Pitfalls Regarding Potential Claimants
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 6 Tips to Avoid Pitfalls Regarding Potential Claimants
Obviously, when the universe of potential plaintiffs is so well defined, the primary pitfall would be taking any case that falls outside of that universe.
In this case, the intake process will be especially important and relatively simple.
Starting with the temporal aspects of the case, no lawyer should accept any client under 35 years old, unless of course, they are coming to you as a representative.
Date of birth may be the easiest metric to avoid unviable cases.
The exposure, likewise, should be rather easy to prove.
Some potential claimants will come to you with solid, paper records that clearly show a person lived at Camp Lejeune for more than 30 days.
The longer the exposure, the better, so I would be careful of any claims that struggle to reach that minimum threshold.
At Legal Calls, most clients are not differentiating between cumulative and consecutive exposure days which is consistent with the language in the law as passed.
As is the case with every mass tort case, a claimant’s confidence level is also a primary consideration.
I remember one person that would call our firm every time a new pharmaceutical case made the news. He would call up and tell us things like “I think I took that and now, I’m all messed up.”
Of course, the moment I asked him to get pharmacy records, he would become much more sheepish.
When considering Camp Lejeune claimants, each attorney should also consider the subjective – Does this person come across as honest, trustworthy, and legitimate?
This sounds easy, but I, like most of you, have been fooled before.
In my assessment, any person calling about these cases should have concrete dates of exposure and a doctor’s diagnosis of one of the conditions connected to the exposure, whether on the presumed list or not.
As I have said before, this case gives us a well-defined universe of claimants, and we can use that to our advantage.
At intake, a showing of exposure and diagnosis should be the absolute minimum requirement.
Another consideration is the distinction between veterans and non-veterans that have been exposed.
Military records are likely to be easier to access than 70-year-old employment or medical records as a civilian.
Similarly, the condition claimed should be supported by medical records.
VA medical records may be the best avenue to confirm what the client is saying, as I think the vast majority of the claimants will be former military.
Again, following advertising on TV or the internet, we are seeing law firms being contacted by people claiming one of the linked conditions.
As someone that has worked in this business for a decade, I can tell you that the moment some people see ‘cancer’ on an ad, they will call and tell you that they have been diagnosed with cancer. That does not necessarily make it true.
This is why it’s so important to use a US based professional intake team that has the experience to easily recognize unreliable claimants, will not ask leading questions, and will get to the truth prior to signing a potentially unqualified claimant.
Many Legitimate Cases
There will be tens of thousands of legitimate plaintiffs out there, and by focusing on exposure and diagnosis, we can cut through a large majority of the illegitimate claimants.
As indicated above, people that don’t show confidence in their answers about either the exposure or diagnosis should be treated as speculative.
(note – LegalCalls standard procedure for all torts is to disqualify claimants who are ‘unsure’ of answers or seem to be fishing for the correct answer)
Craig H. Alinder, Vice President