If you or a loved one were exposed to the toxic water at or around Camp Lejeune between approximately 1950 and 1985 and later received a diagnosis of a serious medical condition, or if a death was caused by one of the medical conditions linked to Camp Lejeune’s water, you could be entitled to compensation.
To schedule your risk-free, cost-free consultation with the experienced Florida trial attorneys at Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath to determine if you may have a viable case, call us at (561) 655-1990 or contact us online and a member of our team will be in touch with you soon.
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Water contamination linked to cancer, birth defects, and more
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) estimates that approximately 1 million people, including military members, their families, and civilians, were exposed to highly toxic chemicals in the water at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina and in the surrounding area between 1950 and 1985.
This exposure increased the risk of cancers, birth defects, and other medical problems among veterans, their families, and staff members at Camp Lejeune.
Widespread contamination affected millions of people
In 1982, the Marine Corps discovered specific volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the drinking water that was provided by two of the on-base water treatment plants: Tarawa Terrace and Hadnot Point.
Tarawa Terrace was largely contaminated with tetrachloroethylene or perchloroethylene (PCE), among other contaminants. The ASTDR determined that the source of the PCE contamination was ABC One-Hour Cleaners which caused the PCE concentrations to exceed the EPA’s maximum contaminant level from November 1957 to February 1987, a period of 346 months.
The most contaminated wells were shut down in February 1985 as additional research was conducted.
Hadnot Point was primarily contaminated by trichloroethylene (TCE), but also contained PCE, benzene, vinyl chloride, and other contaminants. It was determined that supply wells were contaminated by multiple sources including leaking underground storage tanks, industrial spills, and disposal sites.
Hadnot Point’s water exceeded EPA maximum contaminant levels between August 1953 and January 1985.
The culprit: ABC one-hour cleaners
The main contributor to the toxic water causing significant health problems for hundreds of thousands of people was ABC One-Hour Cleaners, a dry cleaning company in Jacksonville, NC, which was based on a one-acre site containing three buildings only two miles from Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base.
ABC used tetrachloroethylene (PCE), a standard agent used in dry-cleaning operations, however the PCE was improperly disposed of and leaked into the soil and groundwater through the leach lines of their septic tank system.
It was later discovered that ABC also improperly buried PCE outside one of their buildings. Due to ABC’s close proximity to Camp Lejeune, the groundwater that contained the PCE fed the wells and water treatment plants on the base.
After the discovery of the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, ABC was sold and renamed, but continued operating as a drop-off location for dry cleaning. All operations were terminated in 2011 and the City of Jacksonville moved to condemn the building due to damage caused by Hurricane Irene. All three buildings on the site were eventually demolished; only the concrete foundation remains.
The site was also condemned due to contamination and was put on the EPA’s National Priorities List as a hazardous waste site. Other sites on that list include Alaric Area GW Plume in Tampa, Agrico Chemical Co. in Pensacola, Harris Corp. Palm Bay Plant in Palm Bay, and Airco Plating Co. in Miami.
Water contaminants and the resulting diseases
The ATSDR has determined that contaminated water at Camp Lejeune led to a variety of diseases and serious health conditions. It’s important to note that specific conditions and their severity largely depends on when exposure occurred, the amount of exposure, the duration of the exposure, and any comorbidities, habits, or traits that could influence or affect the experienced symptoms.
In order to understand the cancers and other serious health problems which have been linked to Camp Lejeune’s contaminated water, it’s helpful to understand what bodily systems and organs the main contaminants target.
PCE could be absorbed through the skin, inhaled, or ingested and damages the kidneys, liver, and central nervous system and is believed to be a carcinogen for humans. There’s sufficient evidence to prove that PCE exposure causes:
End-stage renal disease.
Trichloroethene and trichloroethylene (TCE)
These were also dangerous if absorbed through the skin, inhaled, or ingested and caused damage to the central nervous system, kidneys, liver, immune system, and caused mental and memory disturbances. They are known carcinogens and cause toxicity to reproduction and development. TCE exposure has been proven with sufficient evidence to cause:
End-stage renal disease
When absorbed through the skin, ingested, or inhaled, benzene is a carcinogen which damages bone marrow and the immune system which may result in a decrease of blood cells and can cause death. Benzene exposure has been sufficiently linked to:
Harmful when inhaled and is a known carcinogen which causes damage to the liver, spleen, blood, peripheral blood vessels and tissues and bones of fingers. Vinyl Chloride has been sufficiently proven to cause liver cancer.
Who was affected
During the period of contamination, it’s estimated that at minimum 500,000 and 1 million people at Camp Lejeune drank the contaminated water. This included members of the military, their families, children, civilian employees, and visitors.
Additional affected persons include the employees at ABC and people living in a similar proximity to ABC’s site because the affected groundwater might have also fed their wells–this is believed to be at least an additional 10,000 affected persons.
The massive scale of the number of people who were likely in contact with the water contaminants is difficult to digest. To put it into a more understandable context, it’s likely that more people were affected than the entire population of Jacksonville, Florida, or three times the population of Orlando.
Benefits and compensation available to victims
Compensation from an insurance claim or lawsuit with the help of an attorney
You may be eligible to receive compensation, called damages, associated with your illness or health problems caused by the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune due to ABC’s negligence and violations of the EPA’s requirements for proper disposal of hazardous material.
In order to determine if you have a valid claim for damages, you need to contact the experienced Florida trial attorneys at Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath. Our attorneys will evaluate your case and do the following to ensure that you receive the full compensation you’re entitled to:
Gather evidence to accurately measure your short- and long-term medical costs, lost wages, and any impact on your earnings potential since your diagnosis
Draft and timely file an insurance claim that fully outlines your symptoms, diagnoses, how those have affected you, and the evidence that supports your request for damages
Negotiate with the insurance company to obtain a fair settlement
Take your case to court if the insurer refuses to cooperate or provide you with the reasonable amount to which you’re entitled.
Insurance companies employ teams of claim analysts and attorneys to carefully scrutinize all claims they receive with the intent of denying as many claims as possible and paying out as little as possible for the claims that can’t be denied.
Sadly, they take advantage of people who don’t hire an attorney by making the process seem as stressful and difficult as possible. Our dedicated personal injury attorneys have decades of combined experience, know what cases like yours settle for, and won’t allow the insurance company to play their games.
VA health benefits
Although it’s sometimes difficult to identify the exact source of certain types of cancer, the ongoing link and growing number of cases linked to water contamination at Camp Lejeune provides a strong foundation for your case if you lived there or visited during the period of contamination.
If you are a reservist, guardsmen, or veteran who was exposed to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, you may be able to collect compensation through military benefits in addition to an insurance claim or lawsuit.
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2021 by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs allows additional benefits, including disability benefits, to be provided to victims of Camp Lejeune;s contamination as a form of compensation.
To be eligible for the VA healthcare benefits linked to Camp Lejeune, you must:
Have lived or worked at Camp Lejeune for at least thirty days between August 1953 and December 1987, or have been exposed in utero during that time period
You must not have received a dishonorable discharge.
Did you live at Camp Lejeune anytime between 1953 and 1987? You may be eligible for compensation. Call now.
If you were a resident of Camp Lejeune between 1953 and 1987, you may have been exposed to TCE, PCE, benzene, and vinyl chloride, leading to various health problems throughout your life. This chemical exposure may also have impacted your children, a pregnancy, or other family members in the form of the broad variety of developmental health issues exposure can cause, as explored above.
Determining the exact cause of your health issues and linking it to Camp Lejeune’s water might require additional appointments to obtain opinions from experienced medical experts–we’ll help you schedule those appointments with experts from our local network of professionals.
You might be hesitant to hire an attorney because of the high costs associated with lawsuits, however, we work on a contingency fee structure. This means that we pay the costs and court fees up front so you don’t have to, and we only take our costs and payment out of the final settlement or court verdict awarded to our clients. You pay nothing up front and only pay us after we win your case.
To discuss your case with an experienced Florida trial attorney, reach out to Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath by calling us at (561) 655-1990 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation.