What is really going on with disease caused by the polluted water at Camp Lejeune?
You may have seen postings or advertising telling you that there is now a new law allowing claims to be filed for serious injuries that can be tied to anyone who spent more than 30 days at the Marine base in North Carolina known as Camp Lejeune. We have represented veterans and their families related to many kinds of medical negligence or toxic exposures, in many places around the country. We have, for decades, had to tell people that the government, including the military, would not give up their sovereign immunity which prevented almost anyone from suing for their damages, even though the government knew for years that the water at Camp Lejeune was badly polluted by toxic chemicals. For almost 70 years, people have been barred by special laws and court doctrine from seeking justice.
There still - as of the date of this post - is no law allowing veterans or others to seek compensation for what they and their families have lost due to this know toxic exposure. But you may not realize that based on the articles we find online, and the advertising we see everywhere. Much of that advertising suggests that Congress has acted, and passed what they call the "Camp Lejeune Justice Act of2021." Despite several attempts to get that bill through, Congress has not passed the bill and it has not been sent to the President for signature. Just yesterday, the Senate defeated this bill again, which means there no law in place to help the victims of Camp Lejeune.
So why are some advertisements and articles seeming to say there is help out there?
This is simply because many writers and attorneys expect that the bill will pass through the Senate soon. So on the one hand, some law firms are just trying to collect as many potential cases as they can, just in case the law goes through. On the other hand, many writers on the internet never check their facts and just repeat what they heard might be going on.
What are the facts and where can I get help?
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act is now part of a larger bill that tries to help veterans. This effort was at one time supported by both major political parties. Exactly why the Senate voted "no" this time around (including "no" votes by both of the senators from North Carolina) is not very clear. In general, many sources expect there will some political "horse-trading" and this bill will be made into a law very soon. But it is not a law now, and no claims can be filed until this becomes a law. IF this bill does become law, it will not open a magical door to compensation for victims of the known polluted water. What it will do is allow a claims process, and if that fails, a lawsuit based mostly on the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). My office has many decades of experience with the FTCA, and we consult and educate other attorneys on how to avoid mistakes.
Our office tries to work on the facts as the facts exist, and we advise our many veterans and their families on what we believe is possible. If and when the Camp Lejeune Justice Act becomes law, we will be glad to represent and help anyone who has spent more than 30 days at Lejeune between 1953 and 1987. Our business is justice, not promises. In the meantime, if you have any questions at all about possible claims and what is going on with this legislation, feel free to give us a call at any time.