WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Today, the United States Senate voted to pass the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, a federal mandate with bipartisan support to provide former residents of Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, military, civilians and their families the right to seek reparations from the U.S. government. The bill is expected to be signed into law by President Biden, under the Honoring Our PACT Act, as soon as next week.
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act, bill number H.R. 2192, allows those impacted from living and working at Camp Lejeune to exercise their constitutional right to legal action against the U.S. government for toxic water exposure on base.
From 1953 to 1987, water at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina contained volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including known carcinogens at up to 280 times the standard safety level. Four core chemicals and 70 secondary chemicals were identified in the water including: trichloroethylene (TCE), tetrachloroethylene (PCE), vinyl chloride (VC), and benzene. Exposure to these toxins through drinking, cooking, cleaning and bathing water caused myriad health complications, including a variety of cancer diagnoses, Parkinson’s disease, stillbirths, infertility, miscarriages and more.
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act allows anyone who lived or worked at the base between 1952 and 1987 for at least 30 days and who was exposed to its contaminated water to file a claim against the U.S. government. The bill prohibits the U.S. government from asserting specific immunity from litigation in response to any potential lawsuit.
With this legislation, poisoned family members, caretakers, civilians, and veterans who lived and worked at Camp Lejeune can seek reparations outside of the VA. In January 2017, the Obama administration implemented a disability claims process through the VA to provide disability compensation for eight medical conditions determined to be connected with exposure to Camp Lejeune’s contaminated water. Since then, two levels of benefits are available solely through the VA: presumptive benefits and compensation for family members’ out-of-pocket costs.
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act was necessary because, without this bill, military family members and civilians who suffer from diseases, deformities, and loss of loved ones would otherwise not have an opportunity for reparations. Now, those who suffer or have suffered from one of the presumptive conditions due to exposure, can seek compensation via the judicial system with the U.S. government prohibited from asserting specified immunity. Even those without one of the presumptive illnesses may still have a claim. Adults who lived on Camp Lejeune as children and suffer from toxic water exposure may also seek reparations, as well as primary caretakers, including spouses and children of the individuals directly exposed, on behalf of the poisoned.
Due to an obscure North Carolina law that implements a strict 10-year statute of repose, thousands of impacted individuals have been previously legally prohibited to file claims. North Carolina is the only state where such a statute exists and, despite recent amending for future cases, it does not apply retroactively and subsequently does nothing for Camp Lejeune victims seeking to file a claim outside the 10-year window.
As a result of the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, military veterans, their family members, and civilians now have access to the court systems. The legislation covers individuals not already compensated who must prove and win their case on its merits. The Camp Lejeune Justice Act is adjudicated in the courts and paid out through a U.S. Treasury department called the Treasury Judgment Fund.
If you or a family member may be eligible for litigation or are interested in learning more about the legislation and the judicial process, please visit: https://justiceforlejeune.org/.
About Lejeune Justice
Lejeune Justice is a coalition of individuals and veterans organizations, all working on the passage of the Camp Lejeune Justice Act. For more information, please visit: https://justiceforlejeune.org/.