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Camp Lejeune Water Contamination: Navy Denies All Claims

LeeAnn Riddle   |  March 21, 2019   |  

The Camp Lejeune water contamination crisis occurred at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune from 1953 to 1987.  In February of 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune greatly increased the risk for many diseases including liver cancer, kidney cancer and ALS.

Camp Lejeune Water Contamination: What Happened?

Service members and their families who lived on base during this time bathed in and ingested tap water that was contaminated with harmful chemicals.  The chemicals in the water were at concentrations from 240 to 3400 times levels permitted by safety standards.  An undetermined number of former base residents later developed cancer or other diseases, which many people blame on the contaminated drinking water. These victims claim that the USMC leaders hid knowledge of the problem and failed to act properly in trying to resolve it and notify former base residents and workers that their health could be at risk.

Water Contamination Claims at Camp Lejeune - Riddle & Brantley

Contaminated Camp Lejeune Water Cancer Risk

In 2009 the U.S. federal government investigated allegations of contaminated water at Camp Lejeune and the U.S. Marine official’s failure to act on the issue.  In August 2012, President Obama signed the Janey Ensminger Act into law.  This act provided medical care for people who may have been affected by the contamination.  Consequently, in February 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune significantly increase the risk of multiple cancers and other diseases.

The Camp Lejeune water contamination case is the largest of its kind in U.S. history.  There are roughly 4,500 open tort claims against the Department of the Navy.  Some claims have been filed by groups and new ones are still coming in.  One claim alone is seeking $900 billion in damages.

UPDATE: Navy Denies All Civil Claims

Recently, the Secretary of the Navy, Richard Spencer, has denied all remaining civil claims by individuals exposed to contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. This leaves roughly 4,500 plaintiffs with claims of more than $963 billion in damages with no cash payouts in sight.  Spencer defended the decision saying the law does not support the claims.  He adds that there is no legal way for the Department of the Navy to pay damages in these cases and denying the claims will free everyone to take their own course of action.

“We are denying the claims to free everybody to take their own course of action.” — Richard Spencer, Secretary of the Navy

What’s Next for Victims of Water Contamination at Camp Lejeune?

Spencer acknowledges that this will be difficult for the veterans and their families, because they will have little chance of receiving a large monetary payout for their losses. However, the Department of the Navy feels it is a disservice to the claimants to continue to hold the claims without decision.  Individuals will have six months to appeal the decision.

Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawyer - Riddle & Brantley

The denial of the claims will not affect medical care or disability benefits for the thousands receiving treatment.  Spencer said his decision was made because three separate legal statutes make the government immune from the claims.  Spencer also added that claimants can work with Congress to see if they can add benefits besides health care and disability. Furthermore, Spencer says he is open to more studies. If the science changes and shows a direct correlation between the chemicals and these diseases, there will then be a clear path to move forward.

The Department of the Navy (DoN) and the Marine Corps will continue to support the efforts of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSRD) as the lead federal agency currently conducting Camp Lejeune health studies.  The DoN will assist the ATSRD in identifying and notifying former Camp Lejeune workers and residents of potential past drinking water exposures and support the VA in its efforts to provide disability and medical assistance to all who qualify.

Have you been affected by the contamination?

If you were exposed to toxic chemicals while staying at Camp Lejeune, then you could qualify for benefits. To learn more, contact the North Carolina personal injury lawyers at Riddle & Brantley today. Your initial consultation is free and as always, there are no attorney fees unless we win you financial compensation. You deserve justice. We are prepared to stand up for your rights when you need it most. For a free consultation, click here to contact us.