top of page
  • matt99266

New Elective Option to Resolve Camp Lejeune Justice Act Claims

For decades, veterans and their families stationed at Camp Lejeune, a U.S. Marine Corps base in North Carolina, have grappled with the devastating health consequences of contaminated drinking water. The toxic chemicals, including trichloroethylene (TCE) and perchloroethylene (PCE), found in the base's water supply have been linked to a range of debilitating diseases and health issues. These disease and health issues include various types of cancers, Parkinson’s disease, birth defects and other injuries. To address this crisis, the Camp Lejeune Justice Act (CLJA) of 2022 opened a two-year window for lawsuits to be filed by individuals injured by contaminated water on the base between the mid-1950s and late-1980s.

Since passage of the CLJA, more than 100,000 claims have been filed with the department of the Navy. However, the size and scope of the litigation is expected to continue to increase before the filing deadline expires in August 2024. Unfortunately for those affected, as of September 2023, the U.S. government has not resolved a single claim.

To address the ongoing medical issues and claim settlement struggles faced by Camp Lejeune veterans and their families, the Department of Justice and Department of the Navy recently provided federal courts overseeing these claims with official notice announcing a new Elective Option to resolve CLJA claims. The Elective Option guidance explains the voluntary framework that has been adopted by the Department of the Navy and the Department of Justice to evaluate and potentially settle claims brought under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act (“CLJA”) that are pending administratively or are newly filed. The Elective Option allows claimants to resolve certain CLJA claims more quickly and more efficiently than through litigation. The Elective Option is available to certain claimants with qualifying injuries and who resided or worked at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days.

The Camp Lejeune Elective Option will provide settlements ranging from $100,000 to $450,000, for individuals who suffered certain types of cancer and diseases that have been identified as potentially linked to Camp Lejeune drinking water contamination. Those claimants choosing to seek Elective Option being offered by the government will be divided into two tiers of qualifying injuries.

Tier 1 includes those more serious illnesses related to contaminants found at Camp Lejeune, including:

  • Kidney Cancer

  • Liver Cancer

  • Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

  • Leukemias

  • Bladder Cancer

Tier 2 includes injuries where there is enough research to support a link between a contaminant and the injury, but not enough to firmly conclude there is a causal link, including:

  • Multiple Myeloma

  • Parkinson’s Disease

  • Kidney Disease/End Stage Renal Disease

  • Systemic Sclerosis/Systemic Scleroderma

The two tiers will be further divided into categories based on how long claimants were exposed to contaminants at Camp Lejeune, with claimants receiving a larger award based on how exposure length and which tier of injury they experienced.

Claimants with Tier 1 Qualifying Injuries will receive $150,000 if they lived or worked on the base between 30 days and a year, $300,000 for one to five years of exposure, and $450,000 if they lived or worked at Camp Lejeune for longer than five years. Claimants with Tier 2 Qualifying injuries will receive $100,000 for a month to a year of exposure, $250,000 for one to five years, and $400,000 for more than five years.

While it is nice to see that Department of Justice and the Department of the Navy are taking affirmative steps to streamline the resolution process for certain claimants, it is important to understand that each case is unique and the Elective Option route may not be the best option for all claimants. Combined, Tier 1 and Tier 2 only reflect nine diseases, so many claimants—those with injuries other than the nine diseases included in the tiers—will not even qualify for the Elective Option. The Elective Option also minimizes the struggles of those qualifying claimants suffering more than one illness covered by the new plan—in those situations, the claimant will only receive compensation for the single, highest tier level qualifying injury. Further, the fixed, arbitrary exposure periods established by the DOJ and DON place hardline limits on recovery which could be unfair to certain claimants. Consider the case of a Tier 1 claimant with 4 years and 364 days of exposure versus a Tier 1 claimant with 5 years and 1 day of exposure. That two-day difference in exposure time, despite leading to the same injury, would result in a $150,000 compensation disparity. For these reasons, it is incredibly important to consult with an attorney handing Camp Lejeune Justice Act claims before resolving your claim.

If you are Camp Lejeune veteran or family member who would like to discuss the unique aspects of your Camp Lejeune water claim and how the Elective Option may impact your claim, please feel free to contact us at Gomez Zwibel Trial Lawyers.

5 views0 comments
bottom of page