Houston Camp Lejeune Water Lawsuit Attorney
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Representing Camp Lejeune water contamination victims in Texas.
In August of 2022, President Joe Biden signed the Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act, calling it the most significant piece of legislation ever passed with the aim of helping veterans who were exposed to toxins while on duty. For more than 30 years, veterans, their family members, and anyone else who worked or lived at Camp Lejeune were exposed to toxic chemicals in the water source at the training facility.
People at Camp Lejeune used the contaminated water to drink, cook, and bathe and many of them developed serious diseases as a result. Parkinson’s disease, cancer, birth defects, kidney disease, miscarriage, cardiac problems, and neurological issues are just a few of these. If you or someone you love was exposed and is now suffering harm, you can begin the process of filing a civil lawsuit in federal court to obtain monetary compensation.
Water Contamination at Camp Lejeune
For over three decades, from 1953 to 1987, the water at the training facility at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina was contaminated. Members of the military, their family members, and civilian workers were exposed to this contamination every time they drank the water, bathed in it, or cooked with it.
The water became contaminated through pesticides, industrial waste, solvents, and other types of chemicals that were dumped into storm drains or buried in the ground. Those poisons leeched into the water source and have been linked to birth defects, cancer, miscarriages, and other serious health issues. The chemical concentrations in the water were thousands of times higher than levels deemed to be safe. Although the presence of these poisons is frightening, it is even more disheartening to know that the United States government knew about the presence of toxins and did nothing about it.
Estimates now show that over one million civilian workers, members of the military, and their family members were exposed to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune. Under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022, which is part of the PACT Act, victims can now pursue a financial settlement for their losses. To obtain compensation, victims must file a lawsuit in federal court.
How Did the Water at Camp Lejeune Become Contaminated?
The water contamination at Camp Lejeune Marine base was discovered in the early 1980s. Unfortunately, the water was contaminated as early as 1942, when Camp Lejeune opened. It was at this time that industrial compounds started to leech into the water system supplied by the Hadnot Point and Tarawa Terrace water treatment plants. These water treatment plants provided the water supply to the barracks, family housing, schools, administrative offices, the hospital, and recreational areas at Camp Lejeune.
The Tarawa Terrace water treatment plant went into operation in 1952. The water supply here was mainly contaminated by the waste disposal practices of ABC One-Hour Cleaners, a dry cleaning establishment that was located off-base. The Tarawa Terrace water treatment plant provided water to the Knox trailer park and Tarawa Terrace family housing. This plant was closed in 1987.
The Hadnot Point water treatment plant was opened as soon as the base went into operation in 1942. The water at this plant was mainly contaminated by underground storage tanks, which leaked industrial waste, and other disposal sites. Over 800,000 gallons of fuel from the tanks could have leaked into the ground. Water from the Hadnot Point treatment plant was used in the Hospital Point family housing, the mainside barracks, and family housing at Paradise Point, Midway Park, and Berkeley Manor until June of 1972.
The majority of contaminated wells were closed in 1985 when cleanup efforts started.
What Chemicals Contaminated the Water at Camp Lejeune?
Camp Lejeune’s water supply was contaminated by volatile organic compounds, hazardous chemicals, and other dangerous toxins such as oil, fuel, and degreasers. The contamination occurred for more than 30 years. Multiple studies have been conducted by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease (ATSDR) that have shown a direct link to being exposed to contaminated water at the training facility to several different diseases, including many different types of cancer.
The main toxins found in the water at Camp Lejeune include:
- Vinyl chloride
- Trans-12 dichloroethylene
The accepted levels of benzene in water is 5 ug/l, or micrograms per liter. The levels of benzene in the water at Camp Lejeune are unknown. The accepted levels of trichloroethylene in water is also 5 ug/L, but the levels at Camp Lejeune were 1,400 ug/L. Safe levels of Tetrachloroethylene max out at 5 ug/L, but the levels at Camp Lejeune were 215 ug/L. It is not known just how high the levels of vinyl chloride were at Camp Lejeune, but safe levels are only 2 ug/L. Lastly, while water with 100 ug/L of trans-12 dichloroethylene, the levels at the training base were 407 ug/L.
These toxins all posed certain types of harm to individuals in specific areas of the base. These are as follows:
- Tetrachloroethylene: This toxin was found in the water supplied to the Tarawa Terrace family housing units between 1957 and 1987. Levels of this toxic substance, also known as PCE, were 43 times higher than the levels deemed safe under the Safe Drinking Water Act. Being exposed to PCE places a person at risk of certain illnesses, including multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and bladder cancer.
- Trichloroethylene: Also known as TCE, this substance is primarily used to degrease metal equipment, as well as to make refrigerants and other hydrofluorocarbons. The levels in the Hadnot point water treatment plant were 280 times higher than the levels that are currently considered safe. Prolonged exposure to TCE can lead to kidney cancer and place a person at an increased risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and liver cancer.
- Vinyl chloride: Known as a carcinogen, vinyl chloride is used to make polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipes, vehicle upholstery, plastic kitchen utensils, and wire coatings. Being exposed to vinyl chloride for long periods of time places a person at increased risk of leukemia, lymphoma, lung cancer, brain cancer, and liver cancer.
- Benzene: Used mainly to manufacture resins, plastics, nylon, and synthetic fibers, prolonged exposure to benzene affects the blood and can cause leukemia, as well as other cancers in organs that manufacture blood.
Common Illnesses Caused by Contaminated Water at Camp Lejeune
Benzene, vinyl chloride, and the other toxins found in the water supply at Camp Lejeune can cause a number of illnesses and health conditions. The Department of Veteran Affairs has made a list of all presumptive conditions related to the contaminated water. Some of the conditions listed include:
- Adult leukemia
- Myelodysplastic syndromes, such as aplastic anemia
- Cancer, including liver cancer, kidney cancer, cervical cancer, breast cancer, and bladder cancer
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Multiple myeloma
- Parkinson’s disease
- Birth defects, including organs that are underdeveloped
- Cardiac defects
- Liver disease, including fatty liver disease
- Neurological issues
- Renal toxicity
Filing a Lawsuit for Water Contamination at Camp Lejeune
It is now possible for people who suffered harm due to the water contamination at Camp Lejeune to file a lawsuit in federal court to recover compensation for their losses. To qualify for a settlement, an individual must have worked, lived, served, or otherwise have been present at the site for a cumulative 30 days between August 1, 1953 and December 31, 1987.
Lawsuits are also meant to restore a person to the same condition they were in before suffering harm and so, an individual must have developed a condition or suffered some other type of harm. For example, if a mother lost her unborn child while she was serving, living, or working at the base, she would also be eligible for filing a lawsuit.
No lawsuits have been settled at this time, so it is difficult to determine the average settlement amount. Settlement amounts will be based on factors such as how long a person spent at the base, the severity of the harm suffered, and more. The monetary compensation within a settlement is meant to help cover the cost of medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, and more.
Court settlements should reflect the economic damages of victims, which are quantifiable losses. These damages include losses that have an actual dollar value, such as medical expenses and lost wages when an illness prevented a person from working.
Non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, do not have a concrete dollar value. Pain and suffering encompass losses such as the physical pain endured from an illness and the mental anguish, fear, and uncertainty. It is challenging to determine how much a person’s pain and suffering are worth. Generally speaking, determining the amount of damages requires an in-depth look at past cases that involved a plaintiff successfully obtaining compensation for similar illnesses and conditions.
The seriousness of the conditions and diseases caused by the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune has undoubtedly caused immense pain and suffering for those impacted. Typically, average settlement amounts are usually estimated using the value of a settlement fund. In this case, there is no settlement fund. The government has deemed Camp Lejeune settlements as mandatory spending and not discretionary spending.
It is expected that injured individuals will have two years to file their lawsuit, and a federal judge will likely preside over organized litigation. This process allows the parties involved to exchange information more efficiently. When the two sides present each other with their arguments and evidence, the process is known as the discovery phase. Once the discovery phase is complete, the lawyer representing the victims and the government will draft many memorandums and briefs known as motions, which outline the possible interpretations of the law.
After the discovery phase and motions, a Bellwether trial, or several Bellwether trials, will likely be held. A Bellwether trial is the first, sometimes of many, that occurs during organized litigation. During a Bellwether trial, each side can debate the issues, and speak to the value of a case. This value can then be used in all other future lawsuits. Juries usually return verdicts in Bellwether trials that can assist with setting values for other similar cases. When valuing the remaining cases, both sides can resolve them by reaching a settlement that is agreeable to each side.
Proving Harm was Caused from Camp Lejeune
If you or a loved one became sick after prolonged exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, you may be able to file a lawsuit to claim compensation. To successfully obtain the full damages you are entitled to, you will have to prove your case.
It is recommended that when filing a lawsuit, you work with a Houston personal injury lawyer who has experience in federal court. An attorney will collect your medical records dating as far back as possible as part of their investigation. Your medical records and the many medical studies that have been conducted can then determine if your illness was caused by contaminated water at Camp Lejeune.
Next, you and your lawyer will determine the amount of time you spent at the base. Generally speaking, the longer you lived or worked at the training facility, the stronger it will support your claims that your sickness was caused by contaminated water. Your medical records will confirm the diagnosis of your condition, and potentially even the dates the symptoms were first noticed by physicians.
A lawyer will also have a network of medical experts that can advise on your case and support your claim that the contamination caused your sickness and other losses. These lawsuits require an in-depth knowledge of both the law and medical issues, so it is always recommended that you work with an attorney when filing your claim.
Call Our Personal Injury Lawyers in Houston for Help with Your Case
If you or someone you love became sick after living or working at Camp Lejeune, you need advice from a seasoned Houston personal injury lawyer. At Baumgartner Law Firm, we will help you submit all required forms and documents, and make sure all deadlines are met so you receive the full settlement that is justly yours. Call us now at (281) 587-1111 or contact us online to schedule a consultation and learn more about how we can help. Our law firm is based in Houston, TX, and handles only personal injury or wrongful death cases.
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What years were the water contaminated?
What chemicals were found in the water?
What are some common illnesses caused by the contamination?
1. Adult leukemia
2. Myelodysplastic syndromes, such as aplastic anemia
3. Cancer, including liver cancer, kidney cancer, cervical cancer, breast cancer, and bladder cancer
4. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
5. Multiple myeloma
6. Parkinson’s disease
7. Birth defects, including organs that are underdeveloped
8. Cardiac defects
9. Liver disease, including fatty liver disease
12. Neurological issues
13. Renal toxicity
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