Friday, June 14, 2024

Feds streamline settlement process for exposure to Camp Lejeune’s toxic water

Veterans and residents of Camp Lejeune who were exposed to toxic water between 1953 and 1987 could see quicker relief for settlement claims of resulting injury. (Courtesy Camp Lejeune)

SOUTHEASTERN N.C. — After an outcry that veterans who were exposed to toxic water at Camp Lejeune were not receiving swift relief, the federal government created a new option for resolving claims of injury.

READ MORE: NC Sens. Budd, Tillis pen plea to feds over delayed Camp Lejeune toxic water claims

ALSO: Camp Lejeune vets can sue for exposure to toxic water under newly signed Honoring the PACT Act

Wednesday, the Justice Department and the Department of the navy announced an elective option for individuals who have filed for damages after serving at the Jacksonville base anytime between 1953 to 1987.

The Camp Lejeune Justice Act was signed into law in August 2022 as a provision of the Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act. The CLJA allows veterans who file claims and lawsuits to potentially recover for injuries caused by exposure to contaminated water at the Marine Corps base.

The newly established elective option allows qualified claimants to resolve allegations more quickly and equitably. If someone chooses the elective option, the Department of the Navy will review the complaint based on the type of injury alleged and the amount of time the person worked or resided at Camp Lejeune.

According to a press release by the Justice Department and Department of Navy, narrowing the scope of review for submitted claims leads to a faster validation and ultimately quicker process to receive settlement.

In order to be eligible for the elective option, an individual must first submit an administrative claim to the Department of the Navy. To date, more than 93,000 CLJA claims have been filed — more than double what Port City Daily reported in May.

Within the proposed framework for quick resolution, the Department of Navy can make settlement offers to individuals with diseases determined to be linked to the chemicals found in the water by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.

Award amounts for individuals are tiered, largely based on the registry’s ranking of how closely tied the health effects are to the contamination, as well as the amount of time spent at Camp Lejeune.

Veterans with diseases the registry has substantiated are linked to contamination, including kidney, liver and bladder cancer as well as non-Hodkin’s lymphoma and leukemia, would receive settlement payments of $450,000 (more than five years of exposure), $300,000 (between one and five years of exposure) or $150,000 (30 to 364 days).

The second tier of diseases that have “possible evidence” of causation from toxic water include multiple myeloma, Parkinson’s disease, kidney disease, and systemic sclerosis. Those individuals would receive $450,000, $250,000, or $100,000 based on exposure of more than five years, one to five years or 30 to 364 days, respectively.

Claims involving death would receive an additional $100,000.

The Justice Department will screen already-filed lawsuits and will extend settlement offers in qualifying cases that are similar to awards under the elective option, which is supplemental to the normal administrative claim process and litigation.

North Carolina U.S. Sens. Ted Budd and Thom Tillis penned a letter to the U.S. government urging for expediency in settling the lawsuits of those impacted by the contaminated water on base.

The Jacksonville-based Marine Corps base, 60 miles north of Wilmington, admitted dangerous chemicals were found in its drinking water in 1982 but began in 1953. While most contaminated wells were removed from service in February 1985, thousands of people were impacted during the 30-year span.

“Our nation’s service members and their families have made incredible sacrifices in service to the United States,” the letter states. “We owe it to them to provide efficient and timely processing of their claims resulting from government negligence.”

Individuals do not need to retain a lawyer to file a claim or pursue the elective option path. For more information, click here.


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