Written By : Michelle Llamas
Edited By : Sophia Clifton
This page features 13 Cited Research Articles
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Why Are People Filing Lawsuits Against Camp Lejeune?

People who lived and worked at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune are filing lawsuits for compensation because of medical problems they developed as a result of water contamination at the base.

In 1982, it was discovered that toxic chemicals had contaminated water treatment plants that supplied the water people drank, cooked with and bathed in on base since the early 1950s.

The contaminated wells were closed in 1985, but people exposed to contaminated water developed serious medical conditions such as neurological problems, cancer and other diseases. Pregnant women exposed to the toxic water suffered miscarriages and gave birth to babies with birth defects.

Toxic Chemicals in the Camp Lejeune Water Supply

While the government identified dozens of chemicals in the Camp Lejeune water supply, four of the main chemicals are the most dangerous to a person’s health: trichlorethylene (TCE), perchloroethylene (PCE), benzene and vinyl chloride.

These chemicals are used in dry-cleaning and manufacturing goods such as plastics, pesticides, packing materials and pipes. They are all very toxic and carcinogenic to humans.

Injuries Named in Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawsuits

Injuries named in Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuits range from birth defects to cancer. Researchers at the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry studied people exposed to Camp Lejeune’s contaminated water as well as people in other groups exposed to the same chemicals to determine a link.

Because of the high level of contaminants in the water, people who lived and worked at the base for at least a month between Aug. 1, 1953, and Dec. 31, 1987, may develop a wide range of severe illnesses that have been included in lawsuits for compensation.

Cancers named in Camp Lejeune lawsuits include:
  • Bladder cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Leukemia
  • Liver cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Myelodysplastic syndromes
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
Other diseases named in Camp Lejeune lawsuits include:
  • Cardiac defect
  • Fatty liver disease (hepatic steatosis)
  • Female infertility
  • Miscarriage
  • Neurobehavioral effects
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Renal toxicity
  • Scleroderma

As researchers publish more information about Camp Lejeune drinking water illnesses, this list could change.

Lawyers are also accepting cases from people who were in utero while their mothers were living or working at the base while the water was contaminated. Infants in utero and children exposed to contaminated water were at especially high risk for health issues.

three icons representing filing a lawsuit
Diagnosed with cancer or another serious disease after exposure to water at Camp Lejeune?

Symptoms of Exposure to Camp Lejeune Water Contamination

The symptoms of exposure to Camp Lejeune water contamination will be different in each person depending on when they were exposed, how long they were exposed and how they were exposed. Some people might not experience symptoms for years.

Symptoms of exposure will also vary depending on the illnesses caused by the exposure. For example, someone who developed bladder cancer because of exposure to contaminated water would have the symptoms of bladder cancer, including difficulty urinating or pain while urinating.

At the time of exposure, some people could have experienced headaches, nausea, skin irritation, fatigue, confusion or vomiting.

Who Qualifies to File a Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawsuit?

Anyone who lived or worked at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 cumulative days between August 1953 and December 1987 who developed one of the illnesses listed above may qualify to file a lawsuit.

This includes veterans, reservists, guardsmen, civilian workers and family members. People who were in utero during the time period may also qualify. If you developed any other serious illness not listed above, you can still contact an attorney to see if you qualify.

There are strict time limits to file your claim. Make sure you contact an attorney right away to avoid losing your right to file.

VA Benefits for Veterans and Family Members

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs provides disability compensation and health care benefits for veterans and family members affected by contaminated water at Camp Lejeune.

Veterans who served at Camp Lejeune or Marine Corps Air Station New River and their families who were on base for at least 30 cumulative days from August 1953 through December 1987 are eligible for benefits. In addition, the veteran must not have received a dishonorable discharge.

Illnesses eligible for VA disability benefits are:
  • Adult leukemia
  • Aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes
  • Bladder cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
  • Parkinson’s disease

In order to get disability benefits, veterans must file a claim for disability and provide medical records showing a diagnosis of one or more of the conditions listed above.

Illnesses covered by VA health coverage for family members and veterans are:
  • Bladder cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Female infertility
  • Hepatic steatosis
  • Kidney cancer
  • Leukemia
  • Lung cancer
  • Miscarriage
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Myelodysplastic syndromes
  • Neurobehavioral effects
  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
  • Renal toxicity
  • Scleroderma

The VA will pay for out-of-pocket costs related to any of the conditions listed above for veterans and family.

Like veterans, family members will have to file a claim for compensation and include medical records as well as proof of living on base at Camp Lejeune or MCAS New River for at least 30 days from August 1953 through December 1987.

In addition, they will need evidence of paid health expenses related to one of the health conditions listed above. It’s not required, but the claimant’s treating physician can fill out VA Form 10-10068b to help determine eligibility.

New Federal Law Will Allow Camp Lejeune Lawsuits

New legislation will make it possible for people affected by contaminated water at Camp Lejeune to file lawsuits against the federal government.

The Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022, also known as the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2021, passed the House in March 2022. As of May 26, the bill was still under consideration in the Senate. According to the bill, it will “provide for recovery by individuals who were stationed, lived, or worked at Camp Lejeune, for certain actions of omissions by the United States.”

The bill passed the House as part of the Honoring Our PACT Act of 2021, which “addresses health care, presumption of service-connection, research, resources, and other matters related to veterans who were exposed to toxic substances during military service.”

Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Settlement Amounts

So far, there haven’t been any publicly announced settlement amounts for Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuits. But veterans approved by the VA for a Camp Lejeune disability claim with a 100% rating may get an average of $3,000, according to some lawyers.

VA disability compensation varies depending on the disability rating. Veterans with denied claims can hire a lawyer to help them appeal their case. As part of the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022, veterans who had their claims denied by the VA will be able to sue the government for up to two years after the act becomes law or 180 days after the administrative claim is denied.

Please seek the advice of a qualified professional before making decisions about your health or finances.
Last Modified: June 23, 2022

13 Cited Research Articles

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  1. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2022, March 7). Camp Lejeune water contamination health issues. Retrieved from https://www.va.gov/disability/eligibility/hazardous-materials-exposure/camp-lejeune-water-contamination/
  2. U.S. Congressman Gregory F. Murphy, M.D. (2022, March 3). Murphy Applauds Passage of Camp Lejeune Justice Act. Retrieved from https://gregmurphy.house.gov/media/press-releases/murphy-applauds-passage-camp-lejeune-justice-act
  3. Udasin, S. (2022, March 3). Camp Lejeune toxic water victims eye justice as pivotal House bill passes. Retrieved from https://thehill.com/policy/equilibrium-sustainability/596723-camp-lejeune-toxic-water-victims-eye-justice-as-pivotal/
  4. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. (2020, July 29). Camp Lejeune, North Carolina: Public Health Activities. Retrieved from https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/sites/lejeune/activities.html
  5. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. (2019, September 25). Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Retrieved from https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/sites/lejeune/index.html
  6. Federal Register. (2017, January 13). Diseases Associated With Exposure to Contaminants in the Water Supply at Camp Lejeune. Retrieved from https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2017/01/13/2017-00499/diseases-associated-with-exposure-to-contaminants-in-the-water-supply-at-camp-lejeune
  7. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. (2014, January 16). Camp Lejeune, North Carolina: Background. Retrieved from https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/sites/lejeune/background.html
  8. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. (2014, January 16). Camp Lejeune, North Carolina: Health effects linked with trichloroethylene (TCE), tetrachloroethylene (PCE), benzene, and vinyl chloride exposure. Retrieved from https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/sites/lejeune/tce_pce.html
  9. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. (2014, January 16). Chemicals at Camp Lejeune (FAQs). Retrieved from https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/sites/lejeune/faq_chemicals.html
  10. National Research Council (US) Committee on Contaminated Drinking Water at Camp Lejeune. (2009). Contaminated Water Supplies at Camp Lejeune: Assessing Potential Health Effects. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK215286/
  11. U.S. Marine Corps. (2007, October 24). Update on Camp Lejeune Water Study. Retrieved from https://clnr.hqi.usmc.mil/clwater/pages/articles/pr_6-13-07.aspx
  12. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (n.d.). Camp Lejeune: Past Water Contamination. Retrieved from https://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/camp-lejeune/
  13. U.S. Marine Corps. (n.d.). Camp Lejeune Historic Drinking Water. Retrieved from https://clnr.hqi.usmc.mil/