Think about a water contamination case that made several people suffer, and the name Camp Lejeune will pop into your mind. By now, we all know people working or living in the U.S. Marine Corps Base between 1953 and 1987 have been affected by the polluted water that led to chronic ailments.
Industrial solvents, including benzene from underground fuel storage tanks that were leaking and perchloroethylene (PCE) and trichloroethylene (TCE) from the dry cleaning waste, were present in the water.
The toxic waters at Camp Lejeune had caused several deaths and ailments amongst the veterans and their family members, which need to be compensated. Since there has been much delay in settling these cases, most victims feel that they won’t get their share of justice or compensation at all.
In this article, we will shed light on the cause of the delays and understand if there is a possibility of speeding up the Camp Lejeune settlements.
The Settlement Delays And the After-Effects
Today, over 45,000 claims have been filed since Congress sanctioned the probable payouts. In May 2023, Bloomberg Law News reported that even after nine months of the government’s promise to compensate the victims, no claim had been settled. The Navy shared that it’s essential to launch an online portal first to manage the claims better.
Furthermore, the Navy told the lawyers that the absence of proper resources and current government regulations were responsible for reducing the claims review. There is also a chance that the portal might not be ready by summer.
Naturally, this delay in sanctioning the Camp Lejeune settlement amounts has annoyed the workers, veterans, and their relatives who have been trying to get compensation and treatment for cancer and other severe ailments.
Expediting the Camp Lejeune Settlements
Today, close to 1,100 Camp Lejeune lawsuits that were filed are pending in the Eastern District of North Carolina. To correctly respond to these cases, the Department of Justice had asked for more time which has been granted by a judge.
The moment the Camp Lejeune Justice Act was announced, all the plaintiffs and lawyers anticipated resolving and settling the claims. At times, a lawsuit might take a long time to get resolved. Similarly, trying to settle out of court might also cost more. But since the government didn’t respond, many people felt that they were left with no other choice.
Currently, the district court accountable for managing Camp Lejeune filings is managing three times more cases. James Dever, a U.S. District Court judge, calculated that it might take 1,900 years for the judges to process all the cases. He asserted that the Department of Navy should settle more claims through the Camp Lejeune administrative claims protocol before they reach court, which can expedite the entire process.
Furthermore, Dever also urged the lawyers of the plaintiffs to alltimesmagazine.com develop a leadership team for managing the settlement discussions and communicating better about the cases.
TorHoerman Law states that if you or anyone you know has been affected by the toxic waters at Camp Lejeune, you should contact an able lawyer. The news of delays shouldn’t discourage anyone from taking this crucial step. Since a lawyer is aware of the legal process, they can persuasively present your case to ensure that the verdict is in your favor.
An Alternative Settlement Process
Based on its journey so far, Camp Lejeune has the scope to be one of the most profound mass torts based on the number of people who are eligible to sue. The court and government will find it highly challenging to manage all claims effectively. There have been discussions about consolidating the cases so that the process is streamlined. However, no one knows when that will take place.
Often, the Camp Lejeune claims get compared to the 9/11 lawsuits filed by the rescuers and workers who felt sick after inhaling debris. At the time of the cleanup, the rescuers were told that the air was harmless and there was no need for any respiratory protection. Several workers got diagnosed with cancer and other chronic ailments much later and sued the Port Authority in New York City along with private contracting companies.
Since the injuries were severe and the exposure amount varied, settling all the cases was challenging. The judge who was managing the 9/11 cases was asked to come up with a database of every claim and list out the injury severity in detail. It was this database that expedited the settlement process. Today, a similar process can help to finalize the Camp Lejeune cases quickly.
People who have been affected by the contaminated waters at Camp Lejeune have suffered from severe diseases. The list includes ailments like liver cancer, prostate cancer, leukemia, Parkinson’s disease, nerve damage, birth defects, female infertility, and many more. Once there is medical evidence of the same, victims must take the correct legal action for the same.
Today, there are attempts to ensure that the settlement process gets streamlined and the delays get minimized. Even if it takes time to see visible results, victims should file their complaints, as it will help to raise awareness and compel the authorities to look into the matter and expedite the settlement process.