Between 1953 and 1987, over 1 million veterans, civilians, and workers were affected by toxic water contamination at Camp Lejeune. This North Carolina (NC) marine base has been under scrutiny for the last 36 years for inadequate water safety measures. Reports suggest two water treatment plants were contaminated by volatile organic compounds (VOCs) due to improper waste disposal and leaks.
Residents were exposed to these chemicals while drinking, bathing, cooking, and cleaning with the base’s tap water. As a result, victims developed chronic illnesses like cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, infertility issues, multiple myeloma, etc.
Their anger and frustration against the American government fueled legal actions. According to Drugwatch, over 100,000 water contamination lawsuits have been filed. Everything was going well as victims waited to hear verdicts.
However, recent incidents have changed the course of this lawsuit’s outcome. In this blog, we will discuss the incidents that have altered the course of the Camp Lejeune lawsuits.
#1. The Legal Action That Changed Everything
Camp Lejeune witnessed the effects of industrial greed and cover-ups. ABC One-Hour Cleaners was responsible for off-base contamination due to their dry cleaning operations. Researchers found trichloroethylene (TCE), benzene, degreasers, and perchloroethylene (PCE) in the water.
On-site leaks from industrial buildings also contributed to this contamination. This research angered the residents, and they sprung into action. However, it was not until the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 (CLJA) that the victims received recognition.
Before CLJA, veterans and their families were forbidden from filing claims against the federal government. However, the Biden administration destroyed this immunity. According to TorHoerman Law, CLJA allowed military personnel and other Camp Lejeune victims to file claims for wrongful death and water contamination.
Currently, the government is processing 17,000 claims received under the CLJA. Therefore, congressional projections suggest a payout of USD 21 billion for the victims. It allows representatives to file a wrongful death lawsuit for their deceased loved one. Hence, it brought hope to many victims who were previously unable to file claims.
#2. Obscure Law Threatens Lawsuit Outcome
According to Bloomberg Law, lawyers from all over the country have spent millions of dollars and countless hours preparing for the lawsuit. For some attorneys, this was personal. They genuinely wanted to help military veterans and their families affected by the Camp Lejeune water contamination.
However, everything crumbled when a judge highlighted an obscure NC law. Based on this law, out-of-state lawyers can only take three unrelated NC clients. This judge inquired why law firms should receive an exception in this case.
Hence, the NC courthouse barred many out-of-state lawyers from representing Camp Lejeune plaintiffs. Some believe this rare rule is a nightmare for victims living outside the state. But these attorneys are fighting for justice on a ‘good cause’ basis. Therefore, they argue that all Camp Lejeune cases are related and that the represented victims are former NC residents.
They are ready to take the North Carolina Bar Exam. Even then, the judge has dismissed various Camp Lejeune cases on the pretext of this obscure NC law. However, the out-of-state law firms are eagerly waiting on a verdict from the judge.
#3. ‘UNO Reverse’ on the Law Firms
The attorneys wanted to represent a multitude of Camp Lejeune cases. Hence, lawyers turned to marketing and promoting their services vigorously. Initially, this helped the victims find proper support, and the law firms gained good revenue.
However, it soon became a nightmare for the plaintiffs and their lawyers. Some law firms used illegal telemarketing tactics to recruit clients. According to Reuters, twenty firms have been sued for violating the U.S. Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).
Among them were famous lawyers and law firms. As a result, there was a massive halt in the Camp Lejeune litigation. Federal courts allege that they used unlawful tactics like automated dialers and robocalls to find plaintiffs.
These firms wanted to sign up new plaintiffs but faced hefty consequences. For example, one law firm had to pay USD 55,000 in damages for 30 TCPA violations. Some believe that the expected payout has attracted marketers and lead generators hoping to take a share.
The Bottom Line
The light at the end of the tunnel is growing dimmer for Camp Lejeune victims. The statute of limitations in this case will run until August 10, 2024.
However, plaintiffs with solid proof still have a ‘glimmer of hope.’. For instance, victims must have paperwork for their medical condition and its link to Camp Lejeune’s living conditions. The lawyers will provide causation and use case studies to help the victims win.
An experienced attorney will assist the victims in navigating the complicated legal process. They protect the plaintiff’s rights and maximize their chance of winning the Camp Lejeune lawsuit.