Camp Lejeune Lawsuit News Updates

The latest lawsuit news and updates regarding Camp Lejeune.

Camp Lejeune Lawsuit Update: With PACT Act Signed into Law, Clock Starts Ticking on Camp Lejeune Toxic Water Lawsuits

September 7, 2022
Author: Daniel Gala

With President Biden having signed the long-awaited PACT Act into law on August 10, the clock has begun ticking on a special two-year period during which the law allows victims of toxic water at Camp Lejeune to file lawsuits over injuries to themselves and their loved ones.   

Despite being heralded as one of the world’s preeminent military training grounds, Camp Lejeune in North Carolina long harbored a deadly secret: for decades, at least two of the base’s own water-treatment facilities were supplying military personnel, civilian workers, and their families with toxic water laden with highly carcinogenic compounds.   

However, due to a North Carolina state law, victims of the toxic water at Camp Lejeune largely have been prevented from seeking justice through the courts. A portion of the PACT Act known as the Camp Lejeune Justice Act seeks to remedy this long-standing injustice by allowing plaintiffs a two-year window during which lawsuits over toxic water exposure at Camp Lejeune can be filed in US District Court. 

 In order to qualify, a plaintiff must meet the following conditions: 
     1 The plaintiff must be a person, including someone who was in utero at the time of the toxic exposure, 
     2 Who was exposed for a total of 30 days (the days need not be consecutive) 
     3 Between August 1, 1953 and December 31, 1987, AND 
     4 The exposure resulted in some harm, such as the development of cancer or some other serious ailment. 

 The two-year window for filing Camp Lejeune toxic water lawsuits commenced the moment the law took effect. With the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimating that as many as one million people could have been exposed to toxic water at Camp Lejeune, a flood of lawsuits numbering in the many thousands is expected.   

What hazardous compounds were detected in the water at Camp Lejeune?   

The toxic compounds detected in the water supply at Camp Lejeune includede trichloroethylene (TCE), tetrachloroethylene (PCE), benzene, and vinyl chloride. All of these compounds are strongly associated with extremely serious and potentially deadly health conditions.   

For example, the US Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) has found sufficient evidence to declare that TCE causes kidney cancer, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and cardiac defects; that PCE causes bladder cancer; that benzene causes leukemias and non-Hodgkin lymphoma; and that vinyl chloride causes liver cancer.   

The Victims of Toxic Water at Camp Lejeune   

The scale of preventable devastation wrought by the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune is so massive that it can be difficult to fully comprehend. In a heart-felt piece published August 10 in the ir Force Times, Master Sgt. J.M. Ensminger (retired) describes how he was stationed at Camp Lejeune when his daughter Janey was conceived and while Janey was being carried in the womb. Throughout the pregnancy, Janey’s mother unwittingly consumed the toxic water being supplied to their family by Camp Lejeune.   

“Janey, the only one of my four children conceived at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, died of leukemia at age 9,” Ensminger wrote. “Her suffering resulted directly from exposure to Camp Lejeune’s toxic water; we have no history of cancer in either family.”   

Ensminger also spoke of what it will mean for Janey finally to have her day in court, thanks to the PACT Act.   

“We finally have won our right to pursue due process in the court system. A family may file on behalf of the deceased and for past expenses, loss of quality of life and can sue for pain, suffering and illness due to a loved one’s exposure…It has been a long, arduous road to reach this point. But all those we’ve lost, and all who continue to suffer deserve this justice, wrongfully denied for so long.”   

 If you think you or a loved one might qualify for a Camp Lejeune toxic water lawsuit, contact TheLawFirm.com for a free consultation!   

 Sources:   

The White House. (10 August 2022). FACT SHEET: President Biden Signs the PACT Act and Delivers on His Promise to America’s Veterans.   

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). (Accessed 2 August 2022). Summary of water contamination situation at Camp Lejeune. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).   

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). (Accessed 2 August 2022). Health effects linked with trichloroethylene (TCE), tetrachloroethylene (PCE), benzene, and vinyl chloride exposure. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).   

FCongress.gov. (Accessed 2 August 2022). H.R. 3967 Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act of 2021 (PACT Act). Section 706. Federal Cause of Action Relating to Water at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. United States Senate.   

Falzone, Diana. (14 May 2022). Then the ‘Real Enemy’ Is at Home in the Drinking Water. DailyBeast.   

Ensminger, J.M. Master Sgt. (retired). Camp Lejeune’s toxic water killed my daughter. This new law finally allows affected families to take legal action. Air Force Times.

Camp Lejeune Lawsuit Update: Camp Lejeune Toxic Water Lawsuits: What You Need to Know

August 3, 2022
Author: Daniel Gala

After taking a circuitous route through the legislative chambers of the United States Congress, the PACT Act.—a multi-billion-dollar collection of provisions aimed at aiding military servicemembers and families who have been subjected to toxic exposure during their service—finally passed the US Senate on August 2, sending the legislation to President Biden’s desk, where he already has promised to sign it into law.  

Now that the final legislative language is in place, we can take a look at exactly what the PACT Act means for victims of toxic water at Camp Lejeune, who will finally have an opportunity—albeit a limited one—to sue over their injuries.    

Toxic Water at Camp Lejeune  

Despite being promoted as one of the top military training grounds in the world, Camp Lejeune in North Carolina was for decades poisoning its own servicemembers and their families with contaminated drinking water from the base’s own water-treatment plants, which served portions of the base that included family living quarters. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that as many as one million individuals were exposed to the toxic water at Camp Lejeune.  

The contaminants detected in the drinking water at Camp Lejeune are known as volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. The contamination levels of some of these VOCs exceeded current drinking water standards by multiples of several hundred. For example, the levels of trichloroethylene (TCE) detected in the water from the Hadnot Point treatment plant at Camp Lejeune in May 1982 were found to be 1,400 parts per billion (ppb). Current drinking water standards limit the presence of TCE to 5 ppb.  

According to Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ASTDR), part of the CDC, there is sufficient scientific evidence to conclude that TCE plays a causal role in the development of kidney cancer, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and cardiac defects.  

Ailments closely associated with the VOCs detected in the water at Camp Lejeune include:

• Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
• Bladder cancer
• Liver cancer
• Kidney cancer
• End stage renal disease
• Cardiac defects
• Leukemia
• Multiple myeloma
• Parkinson’s disease
• Scleroderma    

Camp Lejeune Toxic Water Litigation under the PACT Act  

Despite the immense amount of harm done by the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, those impacted have had great difficulty seeking justice through the courts. This has largely been due to a North Carolina state law that has succeeded in preventing even federal lawsuits over Camp Lejeune’s toxic water.  

The PACT Act supersedes this state law and allows a special, one-time, two-year window during which the victims of toxic water at Camp Lejeune can file lawsuits in federal district court. Specifically, Section 706 of the PACT Act reads:  

“An individual, including a veteran…or the legal representative of such an individual, who resided, worked, or was otherwise exposed (including in utero exposure) for not less than 30 days during the period beginning on August 1, 1953, and ending on December 31, 1987, to water at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, that was supplied by, or on behalf of, the United States may bring an action in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina to obtain appropriate relief for harm that was caused by exposure to the water at Camp Lejeune.”  

Let’s break this down. In order to bring a claim under the PACT Act, a person (including someone who was in utero at the time of the exposure) must:
1 have been exposed to toxic water at Camp Lejeune
2 for a total of 30 days (the days need not be consecutive)
3 between August 1, 1953 and December 31, 1987; AND
4 this exposure must have resulted in some harm, such as the development of one of the conditions listed above. If a person satisfies ALL of the above elements, they can file a lawsuit in the US District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina for a period of two years from the date the law takes effect.  

While the PACT Act establishes a cause of action that will allow plaintiffs to file lawsuits over the toxic water at Camp Lejeune, the act explicitly leaves it up to those plaintiffs to prove a causal connection between their exposure to the toxic water at Camp Lejeune and their alleged injury.  

“The burden of proof shall be on the party filing the action to show one or more relationships between the water at Camp Lejeune and the harm,” states Section 706(b). “To meet the burden of proof…a party shall produce evidence showing that the relationship between exposure to the water at Camp Lejeune and the harm is…sufficient to conclude that a causal relationship exists; or…sufficient to conclude that a causal relationship is at least as likely as not.”  

The PACT Act further specifies that “[p]unitive damages may not be awarded in any action under this section.” Unlike other kinds of damages, which are intended to compensate victims for actual losses sustained due to fault of another, punitive damages are meant as a form of punishment for an offending party and generally are only warranted in situations where a party’s conduct is found to be especially egregious.  

With as many as a million individuals having been exposed to the toxic water at Camp Lejeune and given the limited amount of time available to file a claim, it is expected that many thousands of lawsuits will flood the Eastern District of North Carolina in the months after the PACT Act takes effect. With so many cases to be handled, it is likely that Camp Lejeune lawsuits will be centralized into multidistrict litigation (MDL), which consolidates pretrial proceedings for cases featuring highly similar facts and questions of law. A previous Camp Lejeune toxic water MDL was dismissed in 2016 but this time, aided by the PACT Act, victims of toxic water at Camp Lejeune are likely to fare much better.  

If you or a loved one has been exposed to toxic water at Camp Lejeune, contact TheLawFirm.com today for a free legal consultation!    

Sources:  

The White House. (2 August 2022). Statement by President Joe Biden on Senate Passage of the Bipartisan PACT Act. Briefing Room. Statements and Releases.  

Falzone, Diana. (14 May 2022). Then the ‘Real Enemy’ Is at Home in the Drinking Water. DailyBeast.  

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). (Accessed 2 August 2022). Summary of water contamination situation at Camp Lejeune. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).  

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). (Accessed 2 August 2022). Health effects linked with trichloroethylene (TCE), tetrachloroethylene (PCE), benzene, and vinyl chloride exposure. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).  

Congress.gov. (Accessed 2 August 2022). H.R. 3967 Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act of 2021 (PACT Act). Section 706. Federal Cause of Action Relating to Water at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. United States Senate.  

Parker, Stan. (6 December 2016). Ga. Judge Ends Camp Lejeune Drinking Water MDL. Law360.

Camp Lejeune Lawsuit Update: Camp Lejeune Toxic Water Lawsuits: What You Need to Know

August 3, 2022
Author: Daniel Gala

After taking a circuitous route through the legislative chambers of the United States Congress, the PACT Act.—a multi-billion-dollar collection of provisions aimed at aiding military servicemembers and families who have been subjected to toxic exposure during their service—finally passed the US Senate on August 2, sending the legislation to President Biden’s desk, where he already has promised to sign it into law.  

Now that the final legislative language is in place, we can take a look at exactly what the PACT Act means for victims of toxic water at Camp Lejeune, who will finally have an opportunity—albeit a limited one—to sue over their injuries.    

Toxic Water at Camp Lejeune  

Despite being promoted as one of the top military training grounds in the world, Camp Lejeune in North Carolina was for decades poisoning its own servicemembers and their families with contaminated drinking water from the base’s own water-treatment plants, which served portions of the base that included family living quarters. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that as many as one million individuals were exposed to the toxic water at Camp Lejeune.  

The contaminants detected in the drinking water at Camp Lejeune are known as volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. The contamination levels of some of these VOCs exceeded current drinking water standards by multiples of several hundred. For example, the levels of trichloroethylene (TCE) detected in the water from the Hadnot Point treatment plant at Camp Lejeune in May 1982 were found to be 1,400 parts per billion (ppb). Current drinking water standards limit the presence of TCE to 5 ppb.  

According to Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ASTDR), part of the CDC, there is sufficient scientific evidence to conclude that TCE plays a causal role in the development of kidney cancer, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and cardiac defects.  

Ailments closely associated with the VOCs detected in the water at Camp Lejeune include:

• Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
• Bladder cancer
• Liver cancer
• Kidney cancer
• End stage renal disease
• Cardiac defects
• Leukemia
• Multiple myeloma
• Parkinson’s disease
• Scleroderma    

Camp Lejeune Toxic Water Litigation under the PACT Act  

Despite the immense amount of harm done by the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, those impacted have had great difficulty seeking justice through the courts. This has largely been due to a North Carolina state law that has succeeded in preventing even federal lawsuits over Camp Lejeune’s toxic water.  

The PACT Act supersedes this state law and allows a special, one-time, two-year window during which the victims of toxic water at Camp Lejeune can file lawsuits in federal district court. Specifically, Section 706 of the PACT Act reads:  

“An individual, including a veteran…or the legal representative of such an individual, who resided, worked, or was otherwise exposed (including in utero exposure) for not less than 30 days during the period beginning on August 1, 1953, and ending on December 31, 1987, to water at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, that was supplied by, or on behalf of, the United States may bring an action in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina to obtain appropriate relief for harm that was caused by exposure to the water at Camp Lejeune.”  

Let’s break this down. In order to bring a claim under the PACT Act, a person (including someone who was in utero at the time of the exposure) must:
1 have been exposed to toxic water at Camp Lejeune
2 for a total of 30 days (the days need not be consecutive)
3 between August 1, 1953 and December 31, 1987; AND
4 this exposure must have resulted in some harm, such as the development of one of the conditions listed above. If a person satisfies ALL of the above elements, they can file a lawsuit in the US District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina for a period of two years from the date the law takes effect.  

While the PACT Act establishes a cause of action that will allow plaintiffs to file lawsuits over the toxic water at Camp Lejeune, the act explicitly leaves it up to those plaintiffs to prove a causal connection between their exposure to the toxic water at Camp Lejeune and their alleged injury.  

“The burden of proof shall be on the party filing the action to show one or more relationships between the water at Camp Lejeune and the harm,” states Section 706(b). “To meet the burden of proof…a party shall produce evidence showing that the relationship between exposure to the water at Camp Lejeune and the harm is…sufficient to conclude that a causal relationship exists; or…sufficient to conclude that a causal relationship is at least as likely as not.”  

The PACT Act further specifies that “[p]unitive damages may not be awarded in any action under this section.” Unlike other kinds of damages, which are intended to compensate victims for actual losses sustained due to fault of another, punitive damages are meant as a form of punishment for an offending party and generally are only warranted in situations where a party’s conduct is found to be especially egregious.  

With as many as a million individuals having been exposed to the toxic water at Camp Lejeune and given the limited amount of time available to file a claim, it is expected that many thousands of lawsuits will flood the Eastern District of North Carolina in the months after the PACT Act takes effect. With so many cases to be handled, it is likely that Camp Lejeune lawsuits will be centralized into multidistrict litigation (MDL), which consolidates pretrial proceedings for cases featuring highly similar facts and questions of law. A previous Camp Lejeune toxic water MDL was dismissed in 2016 but this time, aided by the PACT Act, victims of toxic water at Camp Lejeune are likely to fare much better.  

If you or a loved one has been exposed to toxic water at Camp Lejeune, contact TheLawFirm.com today for a free legal consultation!    

Sources:  

The White House. (2 August 2022). Statement by President Joe Biden on Senate Passage of the Bipartisan PACT Act. Briefing Room. Statements and Releases.  

Falzone, Diana. (14 May 2022). Then the ‘Real Enemy’ Is at Home in the Drinking Water. DailyBeast.  

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). (Accessed 2 August 2022). Summary of water contamination situation at Camp Lejeune. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).  

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). (Accessed 2 August 2022). Health effects linked with trichloroethylene (TCE), tetrachloroethylene (PCE), benzene, and vinyl chloride exposure. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).  

Congress.gov. (Accessed 2 August 2022). H.R. 3967 Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act of 2021 (PACT Act). Section 706. Federal Cause of Action Relating to Water at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. United States Senate.  

Parker, Stan. (6 December 2016). Ga. Judge Ends Camp Lejeune Drinking Water MDL. Law360.

Camp Lejeune Lawsuit Update: Senate Passes Camp Lejeune Toxic Water Bill

August 3, 2022
Author: Daniel Gala

Just days after an abrupt about-face by 25 Senate Republicans blocked a final vote on legislation aimed at providing assistance to military servicemembers and families who have experienced toxic exposure, an equally sudden change of heart saw the legislation sailing through the Senate by a vote of 86-11 on Tuesday, August 2. Among the multi-billion-dollar bill’s many provisions is one that allows victims of toxic water at Camp Lejeune to file lawsuits in federal district court seeking compensation for their injuries.   

The vote will finally send the PACT Act—which includes the Camp Lejeune Justice Act—to the White House for President Biden’s signature. Biden, whose son Beau passed away from brain cancer that may have been caused by exposure to toxic fumes from burn pits during military service in Iraq, has indicated for months that he will sign the legislation if and when it reaches his desk.   

Despite widespread bipartisan support, the PACT Act has followed a long, winding path through the bicameral legislative chambers. First introduced in the House of Representatives in June 2021, the bill passed on March 3, 2022 by a vote of 256 to 174. Then, on June 16, it passed the Senate 84 to 14.   

Though the two versions of the PACT Act passed by the House and the Senate were slightly different, this is not an uncommon occurrence, and those differences typically are resolved in a process known as reconciliation. However, due to a constitutional technicality that requires all taxing and spending provisions to originate in the House of Representatives rather than the Senate, it was determined that the Senate-passed version of the bill would have to return to the House for a new vote.   

At the time, lawmakers portrayed this situation as mere technical glitch that would quickly be resolved, and, as expected, the revised bill once again sailed through the House. But on July 28, a total of 25 Senate Republicans who had voted in favor of passing the PACT Act on June 16 flipped their positions, preventing the legislation from reaching the 60 senator threshold needed to proceed to a final vote.   

Facing immense outcry from veterans, their advocates, and the public at large, those Senate Republicans once again switched their positions, and the PACT finally passed the US Senate on August 2 by a vote of 86 to 11, even more support than it had received previously.    

What the PACT Act Means for Victims of Toxic Water at Camp Lejeune    

However roundabout the legislative process, the PACT Act now appears poised to become law, which means that many victims of toxic water at Camp Lejeune will finally have their day in court.    

Despite being long-heralded by the US military as one of the world’s preeminent military training facilities, it is estimated that as many as one million individuals were exposed to toxic water at Camp Lejeune from the 1950s to the 1980s. At least two of the base’s eight water-treatment facilities were discovered to have been dispensing water heavily contaminated with volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are closely associated with a broad range of serious, often fatal, ailments. Worse yet, both of the contaminated facilities served the base’s living quarters, where the water poisoned spouses, children, and even fetuses in utero.    

Due to a North Carolina state law, almost all litigation brought by victims of toxic water at Camp Lejeune to date has been blocked from reaching the courts. However, the PACT Act allows for a one-time, two-year window during which plaintiffs can file a lawsuit in North Carolina federal court. The two-year window begins the moment the PACT Act becomes law.    

In order to qualify, plaintiffs must have been exposed to toxic water at Camp Lejeune for a total of 30 days (the days need not be consecutive) between August 1, 1953 and December 31, 1987. Ailments associated with the VOCs detected in the drinking water at Camp Lejeune include: 

• Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma 
• Bladder cancer 
• Liver cancer 
• Kidney cancer 
• End stage renal disease 
• Cardiac defects 
• Leukemia 
• Multiple myeloma 
• Parkinson’s disease 
• Scleroderma

Source   

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with one of the above conditions after being exposed to toxic water at Camp Lejeune, contact TheLawFirm.com today for a free legal consultation!      

Sources:    

Congress.gov. (Accessed 2 August 2022). Actions Overview H.R. 3967 – 117th Congress (2021-2022).    

NBC News. (28 July 2022). Blindsided veterans erupt in fury after Senate Republicans suddenly tank PACT Act. NBC News.     

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). (Accessed 3 June 2022). Health effects linked with trichloroethylene (TCE), tetrachloroethylene (PCE), benzene, and vinyl chloride exposure. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Camp Lejeune Lawsuit Update: After Republicans Block Camp Lejeune Toxic Water Bill, Democrats Confidently Call for Another Vote

July 29, 2022
Author: Daniel Gala

One day after 25 Senate Republicans shocked observers by abandoning their previous stances in support of a bipartisan bill that would provide billions in aid for military servicemembers exposed to toxic substances, the Senate’s top Democrat is now calling for a new vote as early as Monday, August 1, 2022 The Hill reported.     

At issue is the Sgt. First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our PACT Act, which has garnered widespread bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress as well as from outside veterans advocacy groups. Among numerous other provisions, the PACT Act would allow victims of toxic water at North Carolina’s Camp Lejeune to file lawsuits in US District Court against those they believe to be responsible for their injuries.     

Long heralded as one of the world’s preeminent military training facilities, Camp Lejeune for decades was providing drinking water heavily contaminated with toxic volatile organic compounds (VOCs) to servicemembers, civilian workers, and families living at the base. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as many as one million individuals might have been impacted over the nearly three-and-a-half decades during which at least two of Camp Lejeune’s eight water treatment facilities were churning out toxic water.     

Due to a North Carolina state law, the vast majority of victims of toxic water at Camp Lejeune have been unable to sue for their injuries. The PACT Act aimed to change that by providing a special two-year window during which they can bring claims in federal district court.     

The legislation initially had breezed through the House and Senate on previous votes—the vote in the Senate was 84-14—but due to a technicality contained in the Senate-passed version, the bill had to return to the House for slight modifications and a new vote. After sailing through the House for a second time, the Senate on July 27 voted on whether the PACT Act would proceed to a final vote, which requires 60 votes.     

While the Senate vote was viewed by many as a mere formality after the overwhelming support the bill had received its first time through the chamber, the PACT Act stunningly failed to attain the necessary support after 25 Republican senators who previously had voted in support of the bill switched their vote to block the legislation.     

However, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said the following day that he planned to hold a new vote on Monday, August 1, expressing optimism that he would be able to corral the necessary number of Republican votes prior to that date.      

“I don’t know where they came up with this,” Schumer said regarding Republicans’ objections to a bill they previously had voted to pass, according to CNN.       

Still, Schumer expressed optimism that a deal ultimately would be struck. More importantly, he was joined in his optimism by Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-SD), CNN reported.     

Additional Republicans echoed the notion that their “no” votes were protest votes that ultimately could be changed when it came to making sure the PACT Act ultimately becomes law.     

“At least we would have it on the record making clear that we told them this does not work in its current form,” said Senator Mike Rounds (R-SD). “You need to be able to hold them accountable later on as this thing blows up.”     

For veterans and the advocates who have been fighting for decades to achieve justice for the victims of toxic water at Camp Lejeune and other forms of toxic exposure, the delay reeks of putting politics ahead of the lives of those who have served our country. Among the most outspoken advocates was comedian and commentator Jon Stewart, former host of the satirical news program The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.     

“I’m used to the lies. I’m used to the hypocrisy,” Stewart told CNN’s Jake Tapper. “I’m used to their cowardice. I’m not used to the cruelty, the casual cruelty.”     

Despite the numerous setbacks, it does appear once again that the PACT Act will become law…at some point. However, with bipartisanship a rare occurrence in Washington these days and a highly contentious midterm election fast approaching, until the bill passes both chambers and is signed into law by the President, victims of toxic water at Camp Lejeune—and other victims of toxic exposure—must continue to wait.     

Stay tuned to TheLawFirm.com for all the latest developments in Camp Lejeune toxic water legislation.     

Sources:     

Gans, Jared. (28 July 2022). Democrats tee up another vote on burn pits bill for Monday. The Hill     

Dean, Jessica and Ted Barrett. (28 July 2022). Schumer plans burn pits vote on Monday as Republicans continue to express frustration. CNN.     

Wilson, Kristin and Jessica Dean. (28 July 2022). Jon Stewart and Democrats rail against stalled burn pits legislation: ‘This is bullshit’. CNN.

Camp Lejeune Lawsuit Update: Camp Lejeune Toxic Water Lawsuits in Question after Senate Republicans Block PACT Act

July 29, 2022
Author: Daniel Gala

On Wednesday, July 27, 41 Senate Republicans joined forces to block wide-ranging litigation aimed at addressing numerous instances of toxic exposure to military service members and their families, including toxic water at North Carolina’s Camp Lejeune. The move came as a shock to many observers after the bill had received broad bipartisan support in recent months, including a Senate vote held just a month prior in which a previous version of the act passed 84 to 14.    

Of the 41 Republican senators who opposed the bill in the most recent vote, 25 had voted in favor of the legislation on June 16.    

Despite having passed both the House and the Senate, constitutional rules required that the PACT Act be sent back to the House after the Senate-passed version added new tax provisions. The Constitution says any such provisions may only originate in the House of Representatives.    

At the time, lawmakers characterized the issue as a mere formality and expressed high levels of confidence that a revised version of the PACT Act would pass both chambers of congress as a matter of course, at which point it would be sent to the president’s desk for signature. President Biden has repeatedly stated his willingness to sign the legislation.    

However, all of that came to a crushing halt July 27 with the 41 Republican senators blocking a final vote on the legislation. Senate cloture rules—often referred to commonly as the filibuster—require a minimum of 60 votes out of 100 senators in order for a bill to proceed to a final vote.    

Among many other provisions, the PACT Act would have, for the first time, granted victims of toxic water at Camp Lejeune to sue for their injuries in US District Court. Despite having been lauded for more than half-a-century as one of the preeminent military training grounds in the world, Camp Lejeune for decades harbored a deadly secret: two of the base’s eight water treatment facilities had for decades been distributing water contaminated with extremely high levels of very dangerous toxins. Because the affected treatment facilities served Camp Lejeune’s living quarters, the families of those serving on base also were exposed to the toxic drinking water.    

Despite the military itself finally acknowledging the presence of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the water at Camp Lejeune, by and large, victims have been unable to sue those responsible in court due to a North Carolina law that blocks such suits. A provision of the PACT Act would have created a temporary cause of action for victims of toxic water at Camp Lejeune, giving them a two-year window in which to file their claims.    

With the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimating that as many as one million individuals may have been exposed to the toxic water at Camp Lejeune, a flood of litigation was expected upon passage of the PACT Act. Now, it remains unclear whether or not victims of toxic water at Camp Lejeune and their advocates are back to square one, or if there is some hope that the PACT Act—or at least the Camp Lejeune provisions—might yet make it through in some other form. Precious few legislative days remain before the midterm elections in November, and as those elections approach, lawmakers’ focus—particularly in the House—will shift increasingly to their respective races back home, and away from Washington.     

Veterans groups expressed shock and outrage over the sudden turn of events.    

“We really expected [July 27] to be a procedural vote that would go with easy passage,” Jeremy Butler, CEO of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, told NBC News. “That was the absolute expectation.”    

It was not immediately apparent what had prompted the 25 Republican senators to flip their votes on the PACT Act between June and July.    

“We’ve seen partisanship and games within Congress for years,” said Butler, the veterans advocate. “But what is shocking is that so many senators would be willing to play with veterans’ lives so openly like this. They’re manufacturing reasons to vote against the legislation that they literally voted for just last month. And so it’s really a new level of low.”    

One Republican who changed his vote on the PACT Act from “yes” to “no” was Wisconsin senator Ron Johnson. In explaining his no vote, Johnson issued a statement saying, “I support providing coverage to service members affected by burn pit exposure. Unfortunately, the bill as written includes an unnecessary provision that opens the door for more reckless government spending, unrelated to the VA. I voted no on cloture tonight to insist on having the ability to amend the bill to correct this.”    

As the two versions of the bill voted on by the senate were highly similar, it is unclear what prompted Senator Johnson’s change of heart or if he is sincere in his willingness to work toward the passage of a version of the bill he deems acceptable. It would only take one of the 41 Republican senators who voted to block the PACT Act changing his or her mind for the bill to get through to a final vote.    

Stay tuned to TheLawFirm.com for the latest developments in Camp Lejeune toxic water litigation!    

Sources:    

NBC News. (28 July 2022). Blindsided veterans erupt in fury after Senate Republicans suddenly tank PACT Act. NBC News.    

Office of US Senator Jack Reed. (16 June 2022). US Senate Passes PACT Act to Support Veterans. Press Release.    

Falzone, Diana. (14 May 2022). Then the ‘Real Enemy’ Is at Home in the Drinking Water. Daily Beast.    

Office of US Senator Ron Johnson. (27 July 2022). Sen. Johnson Releases Statement on PACT Act.

Camp Lejeune Lawsuit Update: Camp Lejeune Toxic Water Bill Delayed in Congress Due to Blue Slip Objection

July 19, 2022
Author: Daniel Gala

Having already passed both the House of Representatives and the Senate, and with President Biden having promised to sign the legislation once it reached his desk, a multi-billion dollar veterans bill aimed at addressing US servicemembers who have been harmed by toxic exposure related to their service looked poised to become law sometime in mid-June. Among other provisions, the bill would allow victims of toxic water at Camp Lejeune to sue for their injuries, which, to date, they largely have been barred from doing.   

However, due to a constitutional technicality, the bill has been further delayed, and lawmakers were unable to push through a modified version before leaving Washington for the July 4 recess, which in the Senate was scheduled to run from June 27 to July 8 with an additional summer recess scheduled for August 8 through September 5. This leaves increasingly few legislative days left before the increasingly contentious midterm elections, in which the balance of power in both chambers is up for grabs.   

Despite passing the Senate on June 16 after already having passed the House, the Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxins—or PACT—Act has yet to be signed into law after lawmakers in the House of Representatives raised a so-called “blue slip” issue with the legislation. Namely, house lawmakers objected that the Senate-passed bill contains a tax provision that, under the origination cause of the US Constitution, may only originate in the House.   

“This is the constitutional responsibility of the House to initiate these,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) explained, per Roll Call.” “So we’re trying to fix that. And as soon as we get it fixed, we want to pass it.”   

While there is little indication that these procedural hurdles place the PACT Act at risk of not being passed, every day that the bill goes without becoming law means further delay for the potentially millions of individuals suffering from the effects of toxic exposure resulting from their military service or that of a family member. Each day that passes also means that Congress is one day closer to the high-stakes midterms, making bipartisan cooperation on even widely popular legislation increasingly difficult.   

Toxic Water at Camp Lejeune   

One key provision of the PACT Act—and a major reason why it has been so closely watched in some quarters—involves the long-standing issue of toxic water at North Carolina’s Camp Lejeune. Heralded by the US military as one of the premier armed-forces training facilities in the world, Camp Lejeune for half-a-century harbored a deadly secret: multiple water treatment facilities at the base were heavily contaminated with highly toxic compounds. Not only were these contaminated facilities the source of drinking water for servicemembers and civilian workers at Camp Lejeune, they also served family housing, where the toxic water was consumed by unwitting children and military spouses, including pregnant people, whose offspring were poisoned in utero.   

The contaminants detected in Camp Lejeune drinking water include several volatile organic compounds (VOCs) associated with numerous forms of cancer as well as Parkinson’s disease, heart problems, and kidney disease. In some instances, the concentrations of these VOCs detected in Camp Lejeune water exceeded present-day standards by multiples of several hundred.   

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that as many as one million service members, civilian workers, and family members were exposed to the toxic water at Camp Lejeune. However, due to a North Carolina state law, the vast majority of those affected have been unable to seek justice through the courts.   

The PACT Act, if enacted, would temporarily rectify this situation by giving victims of toxic water at Camp Lejeune a two-year window in which to bring lawsuits in US federal court. To be eligible, an individual would have to have been exposed to toxic water at Camp Lejeune for a total of 30 days (they need not be consecutive) between August 1, 1953 and December 31, 1987. Those who were exposed in utero prior to being born also would be eligible under the terms of the bill.         

Due to the tragically large number of people exposed to the toxic water at Camp Lejeune over the nearly 35-year span and the limited time period in which to file a claim, a flurry of lawsuits are expected should the bill pass.  

Ailments closely associated with the VOCs contaminants found in the water at Camp Lejeune include:

• Non-Hodgkin’s lymphomar
• Bladder cancer
• Liver cancer
• Kidney cancer
• End stage renal disease
• Cardiac defects
• Leukemia
• Multiple myeloma
• Parkinson’s disease
• Scleroderma  

 Sources:  

United States Senate. (Updated 14 December 2021). Tentative 2022 Legislative Schedule.  

McPherson, Lindsey. ‘Blue slip’ problem hangs up veterans toxic exposure bill. Roll Call.  

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). (Accessed 3 June 2022). Health effects linked with trichloroethylene (TCE), tetrachloroethylene (PCE), benzene, and vinyl chloride exposure. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Camp Lejeune Lawsuit Update: US Senate Passes Camp Lejeune Toxic Water Bill

June 29, 2022
Author: Daniel Gala

In a rare show of bipartisan support, on June 16, the United States Senate voted to approve the Honoring Our PACT Act by a margin of 84-14, sending the bill to President Biden’s desk for his signature. Biden already has voiced his support for the legislation, which aims to address some of the harms toxic exposure has caused to military servicemembers, civilian workers, and their families.    

The passing of the bill marks a landmark achievement for advocates, who have for decades argued that the US government owes an obligation to those it has injured through various forms of toxic exposure, from notorious burn pits to nuclear cleanups to contaminated water.    

For those impacted by decades of toxic drinking water at North Carolina’s Camp Lejeune, the legislation will offer many their first real opportunity to have their day in court. Among the bill’s numerous provisions, the PACT Act explicitly carves out a two-year window during which victims of toxic water at Camp Lejeune can file federal lawsuits in North Carolina district court. Such lawsuits previously had been barred by a state law provision that gave only ten years from the date of any toxic exposure (rather than from the date of the injury suffered, as is the case in most jurisdictions) for victims to file a claim. Because the impacts of toxic exposure—including diseases such as cancer—can take decades to develop, the state law effectively has acted as a barrier against any Camp Lejeune toxic water claims.    

Long-heralded by the US military as one of its preeminent training facilities, Camp Lejeune was for decades hiding a deadly secret: the drinking water coming from at least two of the base’s eight water-treatment facilities had been contaminated with highly dangerous volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. With as many as several million individuals exposed over a roughly 35-year span, countless birth defects, cancers, and other injuries have resulted.    

Despite having originally introduced the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, the provisions of which are contained in the PACT Act, both of North Carolina’s senators voted against the legislation in its final form. In a written statement, Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) cited skepticism about the Department of Veterans’ Affairs ability to effectively implement the act as the reason behind his opposition.    

“Congress has an obligation to ensure the VA can effectively and efficiently implement any comprehensive toxic exposure legislation and, unfortunately, I continue to have reservations about the Department’s ability to do so,” Senator Tillis’ statement read.    

In order to be eligible to sue under the PACT Act, an individual must have been exposed to toxic water at Camp Lejeune for a total of at least 30 days from August 1, 1953 through December 31, 1987. The 30 days need not be consecutive, and prenatal exposure in the womb qualifies.    

The two-year window for filing a claim will begin on the date the legislation takes effect.    

Stay tuned to TheLawFirm.com for the latest updates on Camp Lejeune legislation and litigation!      

Sources:    

Battaglia, Danielle. (17 June 2022). NC’s senators vote no on bill that helps Camp Lejeune vets exposed to toxic water. The News & Observer.    

The Office of US Senator Thom Thillis. (16 June 2022). Tillis Statement on the PACT Act

Camp Lejeune Lawsuit Update: Sen. Schumer Says Passage of Camp Lejeune Toxic Water Bill Is Imminent

June 15, 2022
Author: Daniel Gala

On Tuesday, June 14, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) urged his colleagues to pass the PACT Act as soon as possible, saying they could do so by as early as June 15. In addition to other provisions aimed at furthering aid to veterans exposed to toxic conditions such as burn pits, the PACT Act also would allow victims of toxic water at North Carolina’s Camp Lejeune to, for the first time, file federal lawsuits in US district court.      

“We need to pass the PACT Act ASAP because our veterans have waited long enough for their healthcare benefits to treat complications from toxic exposure,” Senator Schumer said, according to PBS.      

The PACT Act would give two years for those exposed to toxic water at Camp Lejeune to file their lawsuits. To qualify, individuals must have been exposed for a total of 30 days between August 1, 1953 and December 31, 1987. Individuals previously had been barred from suing over their injuries by a North Carolina state law, which the PACT Act would supersede. The 30 days need not be consecutive, and the two-year window will begin at the moment the act takes effect. Individuals who were exposed to the toxic water while still in their mother’s womb also qualify.      

Camp Lejeune on the North Carolina coast has long been promoted by the United States military as one of the preeminent armed forces training grounds in the world. However, in 1982, the US Marines detected levels of highly dangerous volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the drinking water coming from two of the base’s eight water treatment plants. Some of these VOCs were present in concentrations that exceeded current drinking water standards by multiples of several hundred. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has estimated that as many as one million service members, civilian workers, and their family members had been exposed to the toxic water at Camp Lejeune.      

Overall, the PACT Act would provide an estimated $278 billion in additional funding over the next decade for victims of toxic water, toxic burn pits, and other toxic exposures resulting from military service, or the military service of a loved one. The extra money would be used to cover those suffering from 23 different cancers and respiratory illnesses closely tied to toxic exposure.      

Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough on June 14 affirmed that his often-criticized department would be capable of handling the influx of cash and the additional responsibilities that would come with passage of the PACT Act, while still fulfilling its other duties.      

“I think we’re ready for it,” McDonough said, according to 13 News Now. “We’ve been preparing for this. You’re giving us additional authorities and additional funding. And, taking care of one generation of veterans…needn’t come at the expense of veterans who have sacrificed so heroically for us in World II, Korea, Vietnam, or other wars. So, I think we can do this, and we can do this well.”      

While the PACT Act creates a cause of action for Camp Lejeune plaintiffs, allowing them to sue in federal court, its language explicitly leaves it to future plaintiffs to prove in court that their illnesses and injuries have been caused by the toxic water at Camp Lejeune. The following ailments have been closely linked to the toxic VOCs detected there:      

• Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
• Bladder cancer
• Liver cancer
• Kidney cancer
• End stage renal disease
• Cardiac defects
• Leukemia
• Multiple myeloma
• Parkinson’s disease
• Scleroderma          

The PACT Act already has passed the US House of Representatives, and President Joe Biden—whose son Beau Biden died from brain cancer potentially linked to his exposure to toxic burn pits while serving in Iraq—has already said he will sign the bill into law as soon as it passes the Senate.      

Stay tuned to TheLawFirm.com for the latest legal developments regarding toxic water at Camp Lejeune!        

Sources:      

PBS. (14 June 2022). WATCH: Senate considers legislation on health care for veterans exposed to toxic substances      

Falzone, Diana. (14 May 2022). Then the ‘Real Enemy’ Is at Home in the Drinking Water. Daily Beast      

Gooding, Mike. (14 June 2022). VA Sec. McDonough vows department can implement ‘PACT’ Act. 13 News Now      

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). (Accessed 3 June 2022). Health effects linked with trichloroethylene (TCE), tetrachloroethylene (PCE), benzene, and vinyl chloride exposure. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Camp Lejeune Lawsuit Update: US Senate Votes to Advance Camp Lejeune Toxic Water Legislation

June 8, 2022
Author: Daniel Gala

At a time when little if anything seems to be accomplished on a bipartisan basis, on June 7, the US Senate voted 86-12 to advance legislation that would give victims of Toxic water at Camp Lejeune the ability to sue the parties responsible for their injuries, including the United States military.    

The measure required a 3/5 majority to invoke cloture and proceed to a final vote. Based on the tally, the bill is likely to sail through its final vote en route to the President’s desk, where President Biden already has said he will sign the legislation. The House of Representatives passed its version of the bill in March.    

In addition to providing a period of two years during which victims of toxic water at Camp Lejeune can file lawsuits in US district court, the PACT Act also addresses numerous other instances of toxic poisoning of US military personnel, civilian workers, and families living on our near military installations.    

The White House applauded the vote in a statement released shortly thereafter.    

“Today’s bipartisan Senate vote to advance the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our PACT Act of 2022 is a critical step towards delivering health care and benefits to veterans and survivors impacted by toxic exposures,” the statement read. “Veterans and advocates across the country have spoken out about the importance of this legislation, which represents one of the most significant and substantive expansions of benefits and services in the Department of Veterans Affairs history.”    

While some may hail the allegedly historic nature of the bill, the fact remains that legislation of this nature is long overdue and cannot reverse the horrific and easily preventable wrongs of the past. Although Camp Lejeune in North Carolina long has been and remains one of the nation’s and the world’s preeminent military training installations, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have estimated that up to one million military personnel, civilian workers, and family members may have been exposed to highly toxic drinking water over the course of more than three decades.    

In 1982, the United States Marines Corp. detected toxic contaminants in the water from two of Camp Lejeune’s eight water treatment facilities. The concentration of these contaminants exceeded the US Environmental Protection Agency’s present limits by multiples of several hundred. As a result, soldiers, civilians, spouses, children, and even unborn fetuses have suffered an untold number of life-altering and even fatal ailments, including non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, kidney cancer, liver cancer, and Parkinson’s disease.    

The victims of Camp Lejeune’s toxic water and their survivors have been unable to seek justice in a court of law due to a North Carolina state law that has resulted in having every lawsuit filed to date tossed out before reaching a trial. However, the new legislation will, for the first time, create a federal cause of action that will supersede the North Carolina law and allow individuals to sue in the US District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina.    

However, the bill does place limitations on who can sue. In order to qualify, one must have resided or worked at Camp Lejeune for a total of 30 days between August 1, 1953 and December 31, 1987. Plaintiffs will have only two years from the date on which the law takes effect in order to file their claims.    

With the passage and signing of the bill now looking imminent, the race will soon be on to file lawsuits. With up to one million individuals having been exposed and a limited time available in which to bring claims, the number of cases could quickly grow into the many thousands.    

Stay tuned to TheLawFirm.com for the latest developments in Camp Lejeune Toxic Water litigation!      

Sources:    

United States Senate. (7 June 2022). Roll Call Vote 117th Congress – 2nd Session. H.R. 3967    

The White House. (7 June 2022). Statement by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Bipartisan Senate Vote to Advance Toxic Exposure Legislation. Statements and Releases    

Falzone, Diana. (14 May 2022). Then the ‘Real Enemy’ Is at Home in the Drinking Water. Daily Beast    

United States House of Representatives. (Accessed 3 June 2022). Sec. 706. Federal Cause of Action Relating to Water at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. H.R. 3967 – Honoring our PACT Act of 2021

Legal Disclaimer: The information in this article is not intended to be used as medical information or diagnosis. The sources of the information presented in the article have been researched and are linked within the article. Please seek out medical advice from a licensed medical professional if you are experiencing a problem with any of the drugs or devices mentioned in this article. 

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