The U.S. Navy and the Department of Justice (DOJ) have recently taken a significant step to settling the longstanding issue of contaminated water at the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. The government’s offer is aimed at expediting the settlement of thousands of Camp Lejeune administrative claims and federal lawsuits that have been pending for over a year.
Camp Lejeune Lawsuits and Administrative Claims
Camp Lejeune, a Marine Corps base in North Carolina, has been at the center of a major controversy due to the exposure of its residents to toxic water between 1953 and 1987.
The water they consumed and used for daily activities was contaminated for years by an off-base dry cleaner, leaky storage tanks, and chemical dumping.
This contamination has been linked to several health issues, including 15 types of cancers and conditions such as:
- bladder cancer
- breast cancer
- female infertility
- kidney cancer
- non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Parkinson’s disease
The Camp Lejeune Elective Option: An Optional Resolution Settlement Process
In an effort to speed up the resolution of the more than 93,000 civil claims filed by Marines, their families, and civilian employees against the Navy, the DOJ and the Navy have introduced a system of tiered payouts.
This new process, termed the “Elective Option,” is designed to help veterans and other affected individuals more quickly resolve qualifying claims under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022.
The Elective Option allows the Department of the Navy to focus its review on key aspects of a claim, such as the type of injury alleged and the duration of the claimant’s stay at Camp Lejeune.
This narrowed scope is expected to facilitate faster validation of claims and, subsequently, the extension of settlement offers.
- A veteran who spent more than five years on the base and was diagnosed with kidney cancer would be eligible for a $450,000 settlement.
- Another who was at the base for less than a year and later diagnosed with Parkinson’s could receive $100,000.
- Claims involving death would receive an additional $100,000.
A Significant Step in Settling the Camp Lejeune Lawsuits
This decision by the Navy and DOJ is a significant move towards addressing the grievances of those affected by the Camp Lejeune water contamination issue.
It not only offers a streamlined process for claim resolution but also provides hope for many who have been waiting for justice.
However, it’s essential to note that this Elective Option is supplementary. Claimants not eligible for this option can still await the finalization of their administrative claim or pursue litigation.
The Navy and DOJ’s commitment to resolving this issue is evident in their proactive approach. The Navy is in the process of hiring over 100 new employees dedicated to processing claims, and the Justice Department has already begun reviewing existing lawsuits to extend similar settlement offers.
While the harms of the past cannot be undone, efforts like these are a step in the right direction, ensuring that justice is served and the affected individuals receive the compensation they deserve.