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Camp Lejeune Groundwater Contamination

By Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo Plotkin & Hellman LLP

Camp Lejeune or Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune has a proud history of patriotic service to the United States of America. The camp was established just prior to the US entry into World War II and was named after Gen. John Archer Lejeune. Its strategic location on the east coast and access to deep water ports affords it a unique training facility as well as a rapid deployment operation.

From August 1, 1953, through December 31, 1987, people living at the U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, were potentially exposed to drinking water contaminated with industrial solvents, benzene, and other chemicals.

On August 6, 2012, the Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012 was signed into law. This law (H.R. 1627, now Public Law 112-154) requires the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to provide health care to Veterans who served on active duty at Camp Lejeune and to reimburse eligible Camp Lejeune Family Members (CLFM) for eligible health care costs related to one or more of 15 specified illnesses or conditions which involved cancers, skin disease and pregnancy-related complications.

However, as many frustrated veterans know, this 2012 legislation didn’t address the serious impact of the Camp Lejeune groundwater contamination problem. The damage claims were limited and awards were rarely given. Currently, the US Congress is considering new legislation that would greatly expand assistance for injured veterans. This Act would allow claims for full damages, including pain & suffering, emotional damages, lost income, loss of consortium for spouses, wrongful death and other damages. In part, the text of the bill includes the following:

An individual, including a veteran (as defined in section 101 of title 38, United States Code), or the legal representative of such an individual, who resided, worked, or was otherwise exposed (including in utero exposure) for not less than 30 days during the period beginning on August 1, 1953, and ending on December 31, 1987, to water at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, that was supplied by, or on behalf of, the United States may bring an action in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina to obtain appropriate relief for harm that was caused by exposure to the water at Camp Lejeune.

Should the new legislation pass and full damages be available to veterans and their families, we will be ready to act. We understand the importance of North Carolina counsel and have combined with a Camp Lejeune law firm in Onslow County with decades of experience in helping active military members and veterans, as well as their families, on many matters. They have monitored the progress leading to this Act for years. They are also familiar with the Federal Tort Claims Act and helping preserve the rights of injured military personnel in the United States Federal Court for the Eastern District on North Carolina.

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