Camp Lejeune Claims Update for Junell & Associates Clients
LAST UPDATED 02/12/2024
Important: Please bookmark this page for future reference as we will post any Camp Lejeune Update. Additionally, you may reach us by phone at 800-221-1561 text us at 844-407-1256, or via e-mail at CampL@junell-law.com.
Status of Litigation January 10, 2024
First, Junell & Associates would like to wish you a happy New Year. Below is the latest news and updates on the Camp Lejeune litigation. The information is divided into the status of the litigation and the upcoming trials and the second is an update on the status of the administrative claims process.
There is a lot of work being done in the litigation arena to prepare for the Camp Lejuene bellwether trials. Results from these trials will play a big role in determining the value of the various injures from the exposure to Camp Lejeune toxic water.
The Camp Lejeune litigation was supposed to be different since the government published studies admitting they contaminated the Camp Lejeune wells. The PACT Act also allows for a lower burden of proof that the water contamination caused diseases. Unfortunately, the DOJ now is denying everything, trying to keep every defense option open and contesting every issue. They have even denied evidence from its own agencies about the Camp Lejuene water contamination and its link to certain diseases. The plaintiff attorneys believe this is not what Congress intended when it passed the PACT Act.
Plaintiff attorneys have scheduled depositions for three different agencies (1) the Department of Veterans Affairs (2) the United States Marine Corps, and (3) the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (called the ATSDR). The ATSDR is directed by congressional mandate to perform specific functions concerning the effect on public health of hazardous substances in the environment. The ATSDR has already published studies proving the Camp Lejeune contamination and resulting diseases. The ATSDR has a new study showing elevated cancer rates in military and civilian personnel who lived and worked at Camp Lejeune. Plaintiffs have requested a copy of the study which hasn’t been released yet, however the government lawyers have caused a delay in the report being released. The study was supposed to be released within five years and it remains unpublished eight years later. This is an important study, and we will continue to fight to have the results released as soon as possible.
We are also fighting the government on whether plaintiffs must open an estate in North Carolina. This will impose an unnecessary burden and expense on the plaintiffs, meaning those victims who lived or worked at Camp Lejeune and now suffer from diseases related to that water contamination.
Additionally, we have served five sets of document requests to the government along with other pretrial discovery. Plaintiffs are also pushing back against the government’s proposal for no jury trials.
Approximately 1,300 lawsuits have been filed with the courts. These cases have gone through the administrative claims process and are now proceeding in the court system as they could not resolve in the administrative claim process. Camp Lejeune trials are expected to begin in March 2024.
All Camp Lejeune cases must first be filed with the Navy JAG. Proof of military service must be submitted such as a DD214, a NAVMC118, or old letters from addresses within the Lejeune area. Proof of illness is typically proven through medical records that show each plaintiff has a qualifying condition. After this proof is submitted to the Navy, if the administrative claim is denied or the JAG doesn’t decide within 180 days, then a civil lawsuit can be filed in the Eastern District of North Carolina federal court. Remember the lawsuit is against the federal government, and is separate from the VA. In addition, once you decide to file a civil lawsuit in federal court, you no longer can proceed through the administrative claim process.
As of December 2023, more than 130,000 administrative claims have been filed nationwide.
It is important to understand that a Camp Lejeune settlement will not affect your benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
No Camp Lejeune lawsuits have been settled yet. Most likely at some point, the government will develop a matrix formula that helps determine Camp Lejeune settlement amounts by placing each case into a specific category or tier.
The government created a voluntary Elective Option (EO) that certain victims are eligible for which categorizes illnesses into 2 tiers. However, the EO requires a high threshold to qualify. The values range between $450,000 for 5 years of exposure for a Tier 1 bladder cancer, kidney cancer, leukemia, liver cancer, or non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma to $150,000 if the plaintiff had 30 – 364 days of exposure. As of January 2024, eight Camp Lejeune payouts were made under the EO program.
- Be diagnosed with or treated for a qualifying health condition before August 10, 2002, and
- Have a date of diagnosis or treatment occurring between 2 and 35 years after first exposure to contaminated water, and
- Have lived or worked at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days.
Thus far, less than a handful of cases have settled through the OE process. One thing learned in this EO process is that we cannot rely on the government for establishing a plaintiff’s time at Camp Lejeune because the government came back with incorrect information as to the time at Camp Lejeune which then decreases the settlement offer.
If your claim is filed on behalf of a deceased love one, it is extremely important that you provide us a copy of the death certificate and any probate documents available. All estates must be probated before the upcoming August 10, 2024.
Junell & Associates staff and attorneys are working hard to obtain all your records to show that you were in the Lejeune area for at least 30 days. We are also working to gather all your records proving that you have a qualifying condition. The JAG is overwhelmed by all the submitted claims and due to a limited budget, they do not have enough staff to keep up with all the filed claims. At this point, they do not even have a process set up for us to submit your documents supporting your case to them. We will continue to put pressure on the JAG for a determination of your claim.
We consider it a privilege to represent you. Please call us at 800-221-1561 or email us at CampL@junell-law.com.
Junell & Associates, PLLC