Over about three decades, the United States Marine Corps Camp Lejeune, based in North Carolina, exposed hundreds of thousands of military members and their families to contaminated water. The recent passage of the PACT Act provides these veterans a legal avenue to recover compensation for the harm and injuries they sustained as a result.
However, many other previous residents of Camp Lejeune are wondering if they are also eligible to file an injury claim if they were not a veteran. Over the three decades it was affected by toxic water, Camp Lejeune employed hundreds (if not thousands) of civilians, who helped keep the base up and running.
Up until now, civilians were barred from seeking benefits for the dozens of health complications they’ve suffered as a result of exposure to the toxins from Camp Lejeune’s contaminated water. Spectrum News spoke to Terry Dyer back in 2017. Dyer’s father was a civilian who worked on base at Camp Lejeune:
For countless family members and civilians, the suffering they’ve endured continues as they are not eligible for the benefits.
“My sisters and I, we’ve been sick all our lives, ever since we were little, and we just had these weird illnesses that nobody else had,” said Dyer. “I ended up with bladder cancer, which is one of the illnesses ATSDR is saying these chemicals caused.”
The “ATSDR” Dyer mentions is the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, which performed a study on the chemicals found in the water at Camp Lejeune.
With the passage of the PACT Act, however, civilians – and anyone who lived at Camp Lejeune and suffered health complications – are now eligible to file legal claims for their diseases and conditions.
How the PACT Act also helps civilians
The PACT Act codifies into law certain health protections and benefits for veterans and their families. You can read the major points of the Act here.
The PACT Act also contains the Camp Lejeune Justice Act. The Camp Lejeune Justice Act now allows veterans and anyone exposed (including those in utero) to water contamination for at least 30 days between August 1, 1953 and December 31, 1987 to file a claim in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Northern Carolina. Passage of this legislation will eliminate a procedural bar in North Carolina that currently prevents victims from seeking legal claims.
As you can see by the language, this eligibility now includes civilians and their families.
About the water at Camp Lejeune
Between 1953 and 1987, the drinking water at Camp Lejeune – the water residents used to drink, cook, and bathe – contained high levels of toxic substances, later identified as benzene, vinyl chloride, trichloroethylene, and tetrachloroethylene. These substances entered the water supply from a variety of sources, including leaky storage tanks and waste runoff from a dry cleaning store.
Over these three decades, hundreds of thousands (if not more) of military personnel, their families, and civilian workers were exposed to illegal and toxic levels of contaminants over extended periods, significantly raising their risk of developing certain cancers and other health complications, including miscarriages and birth defects.
In some cases, the concentration of these harmful chemicals was hundreds of times the levels permitted by safety standards. And even worse: the government knew it, and for many years hid the truth from the men and women and their families who had served so honorably.
Today, as a civilian suffering the effects of Camp Lejeune’s contaminated water, you now have recourse, and our attorneys can help.
What conditions are recognized under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act?
Individuals who resided or worked at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days between August 1, 1953 and December 31, 1987 and have been diagnosed with at least one of the following are eligible:
- Aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes
- Bladder cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Liver cancer
- Multiple myeloma
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Parkinson’s disease
Other conditions that may also apply include:
- Esophageal cancer
- Breast cancer
- Renal toxicity
- Pancreatic Cancer
- Prostate Cancer
- Female infertility
- Lung cancer
- Hepatic steatosis
- Neurobehavioral conditions
Our attorneys can talk about the details in a free case review if you are unsure whether you have a claim.
At McGowan, Hood, Felder & Phillips, LLC, we want to help with your Camp Lejeune claim. We understand how long you have been waiting for help and for justice, and we can assist you every step of the way. Our attorneys can help file your claim properly and on time, and keep you updated on its progress. To schedule a free case review with one of our experienced South Carolina lawyers, call today at 803-327-7800 or use our contact form. Your case review is always confidential.
Randy is the former President of the South Carolina Association for Justice. He has been certified by the American Board of Professional Liability as a specialist in Medical Malpractice Law which is recognized by the South Carolina Bar. Randy has also been awarded the distinction of being a “Super Lawyer” 10 times in the last decade. He has over 25 years of experience helping injured people fight back against corporations, hospitals and wrong-doers.
Read more about S. Randall Hood