The Camp Lejeune Lawsuit Timeline is long and complicated.
Camp Lejeune was established in 1941. Tragically, as this home to millions of Marines and their families grew over the following decades, toxic chemicals poisoned its water. The fight for justice for the victims of those poisonings has continued for decades. Parker Waichman joins the Camp Lejeune Lawsuit Timeline in 2009. The fight continues…
On April 5, 1941 Congress approves funds to construct a new base in coastal North Carolina, in Onslow County, just south of the City of Jacksonville. Marine Corps Base (MCB) Camp Lejeune was named for Major General John A. Lejeune, Commander of the 2nd Army Division in World War I. MCB Camp Lejeune was commissioned as a training area, to prepare Marines for combat. It also became a home to a large population of Marines and their families.
The Hadnot Point Water Treatment Plant is established to provide water to the Hadnot Point and Holcomb Boulevard service areas, home to residents of Camp Lejeune.
On June 20, 1951 construction begins on Tarawa Terrace I, a residential facility with 1,054 units.
Tarawa Terrace II, a nearly identical facility, is built in 1952. More construction follows: a shopping center, supermarket, gas station and post office followed. Three wells are built along Lejeune Blvd, down gradient from the gas station and dry cleaner. No city sewers are installed until the 1970s.
ABC One Hour Dry Cleaner opens at 2127 Lejeune Blvd, two miles southeast of Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base. The dry cleaner dumps its waste water through an on-site septic system, directly across the street and uphill from the Tarawa Terrace well fields.
On October 23, 1958, H.E. Legrand, a consultant hired to evaluate water resources, reports that wells at Hadnot Point, Tarawa Terrace and Montford Point are built on thin shellrock, which could allow contaminants to penetrate to the aquifer. He recommends frequent inspection and repair.
The Department of the Navy’s Bureau of Medicine and Surgery (BUMED) issues its first standards for potable water.
The Base opens its first hazardous waste dump.
In August 1963, the Department of the Navy’s Bureau of Medicine and Surgery (BUMED) issues Navmed P-5010-5, which includes the Navy’s updated potable water standards for facilities. The standards – known as BUMED 6240.3B – expand the Navy’s definition of a health hazard, citing structural defect in the water supply system as an important example. These regulations, which take immediate effect at Camp Lejeune, explicitly bar harmful substances in water.
The Camp Lejeune Rifle Range is used regularly for chemical disposal. Camp Lejeune now monitors for contaminants under state and federal standards, but in the 1970s, dumping and burying were standard practice.
Well HP-651 becomes operational at Hadnot Point in July 1972, adjacent to a junkyard. It is the primary water supply well in the Hadnot Point area to be contaminated. It remains in service until February 1985.
BUMED 6240.3A is cancelled. The updated Instruction – 6240.3C. – specifies the presence of chlorinated hydrocarbons in the water supply as grounds for rejection.
Base Order 5100.13b describes safe disposal procedures for contaminants or hazardous waste, declaring organic solvents hazardous and indicating that improper disposal could lead to drinking water contamination. Though the order was unambiguous, it was not followed, according to later hearings led by Senators Burr and Hagan.
The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), as interpreted by North Carolina’s potable water laws, requires daily tests for bacteria and chemicals in the water. On May 8, 1978, the North Carolina Division of Water Resources informs the Marines, in meetings at the Base, of the Act’s requirement of daily tests for bacteria and chemicals in the water.
According to Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NavFacEngCom), Coliform bacteria was found in October 1978 in the Courthouse Bay water system. Rapid increase in sewage and water discharge levels at the base is blamed.
The Hadnot Point Fuel Farm (HPFF), constructed shortly after the Base opened, was located within 1,200 feet of potable water. In 1979, fuel leaked from an underground valve. Estimates indicate that 20,000 to 30,000 gallons of fuel were released.
The Department of Defense reports contamination at military bases in Pennsylvania. Sampling of station supply wells found groundwater contamination, including PCE and TCE presences. Remediation efforts were not successful, so wells were taken out of the drinking system.
Camp Lejeune is cited by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a polluter. The Base is found noncompliant with multiple requirements, including the solid waste requirements of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES).
A study by Henry Von Oesen & Associates finds serious operating problems, including inability to control water treatment properly. The study recommends demolishing the Tarawa Terrace and Montford Point Water Treatment Plants.
An Environmental Engineering Survey prepared for the Utilities, Energy and Environmental Divisions and NavFacEngCom study finds numerous problems at Camp Lejeune: the Quality Control Lab does not have a Chemist or EPA certification; required analysis for inorganic chemicals was not completed; maintenance problems and personnel shortages noted; etc
In November 1979, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), publishes a Suggested No Adverse Reaction Level (SNARL) for TCE of no more than 75 parts per billion in a water supply system.
The Naval Assessment and Control of Installation Pollutants (NACIP) program is started by the Navy to identify any toxicity at Naval installations.
The Navy Facilities Engineering Command initiates a total trihalomethanes (TTHM) surveillance program to establish a database that would characterize the Base’s potable water supplies. Jennings Laboratories and the U.S. Army Environmental Hygiene Agency (USAEHA) lab are selected to analyze the base’s water for TTHMs.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) delegates primary enforcement responsibility under the Public Water System Supervision Program (PWSS) to the states. The N.C. Division of Water Resources assumes primary enforcement responsibility in North Carolina, including Camp Lejeune.
The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) publishes Suggested Action Guidance for Tetrachloroethylene (perchloroethylene or PCE). Under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), PCE is listed as hazardous waste, subject to regulation as a hazardous air pollutant under section 112 of the Clean Air Act.
Congress enacts Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), creating the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). Congress empowers the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to seek out parties responsible for toxic releases and mandate cleanup. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) is formed to implement health-related issues for the EPA.
On October 21, 1980, military personnel begin an extensive testing program for Camp Lejeune’s drinking water. The U.S. Army Environmental Hygiene Agency (USAEHA) Laboratory Services team begins analysis of TTHMs. Testing reveals the presence of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the Hadnot Point water system.
On October 31, 1980, USAEHA’s Laboratory Services produces the TTHM Surveillance Report, indicating that finished water was “”highly contaminated with low molecular weight halogenated hydrocarbons.” Eleven VOCs, including TCE, are detected. A handwritten note from Laboratory Services Chief William Neal finds unidentified chlorinated hydrocarbons in the water. USAEHA sends the Report to Navy officials, but no action is taken.
On January 22, 1981, U.S. Army Environmental Hygiene Agency (USAEHA) recommends analysis for chlorinated organics. On March 9, 1981, USAEHA officials indicate that solvents were the interfering agent in the TTHM test results. USAEHA notes indicate that the finished water at Hadnot Point was “highly contaminated with other chlorinated hydrocarbons.”
On April 7, 1981, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are detected in water samples from the Rifle Range. On April 16, 1981, TCE and PCE are found in the Rifle Range samples. The Commander of the Atlantic Division of Naval Facilities Engineering Command (LANTDIV) notifies the Camp Lejeune Base Commander of the contamination of the Rifle Range.
Despite the USAEHA findings, Camp Lejeune’s Commanding General, Major General Cooper advises Charles Rundgren of the N.C. State Division of Health Services that Camp Lejeune facilities, including the Rifle Range water system, met current drinking water standards.
In March 1982, the Navy hires Water & Air Research of Gainesville, Florida to conduct an Initial Assessment Study (IAS) and identify any contamination at Camp Lejeune. The IAS finds 22 of 76 inspected sites warrant further investigation for long term impact, with actual sampling and monitoring for suspected contamination. At a March 28, 1982 briefing, a potential health threat to children at daycare is noted.
On March 6, 1982, Grainger Laboratory staff calls Camp Lejeune laboratory staff to alert them to the presence in potable water systems of PCE and TCE in Hadnot Point, and PCE in Tarawa Terrace. On April 19, 1982, Base officials and Grainger Laboratory begin collecting monthly samples for TTHM monitoring. On May 6, 1982, Grainger Laboratory reports the presence of PCE and TCE in Hadnot Point potable water and PCE in Tarawa Terrace potable water. The TCE level found in the Hadnot Point distribution system of Camp Lejeune is at 1,400 parts per billion (SNARL at 75 parts per billion). On June 9, 1982, Grainger Laboratory reports that TCE interference with the analysis of the Hadnot Point samples prevented a precise reading for TTHMs.
In August 1982, TCE and PCE are identified at high concentration in samples from Hadnot Point and Tarawa Terrace. On August 10, 1982, Grainger reports by letter to the Base Commander that the well fields are the source of the contamination. Biochemist Michael Hargett, former co-owner of Grainger Labs, says he saw no evidence of testing for anything beyond bacteria.
On August 18, 1982, Base officials reduce monitoring for TTHMs from monthly to quarterly. On August 19, 1982, Elizabeth A. Betz, the Supervisory Chemist in the Quality Control Lab at Camp Lejeune, acknowledges in an internal memo that PCE and TCE are present, and the chemicals are harmful to humans.
Chlorine insecticides are detected in the soil Camp Lejeune’s Building 712, which was initially a pesticide storage facility, but was converted to nursery and day care. The day care center was soon closed.
The Base reports to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) but does not mention water contamination.
After repeated warnings to the Base, Grainger notifies North Carolina of contamination. North Carolina environmental regulators request water test results. Marine officials refuse to submit test results and terminate Grainger.
On July 6, 1984, Environmental Science and Engineering Inc. conducts tests at Hadnot Point, revealing benzene at levels far in excess of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) allowance, at 380 parts per billion. Other volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are found, including Trichloroethylene (TCE); Tetrachloroethylene (also known as PCE, perc, or perchloroethylene); toluene; Vinyl chloride; and Methylene chloride.
Well 602, near Hadnot Point, is shut in November 1984. In November and December 1984, the Base closed two more wells with high TCE concentrations, as well as other contaminants. Ultimately, the Base shut ten wells due to VOC contamination.
The Base’s Commanding General, Major General L.H. Buehl, notes that 10 wells have been found contaminated and were closed – but downplays the issue. The Marines later claim that this was adequate notice.
On February 4, 1985, tests indicate TCE in the water supply and distribution system as high as 1148 parts per billion and the dichloroethylene level as high as 406 parts per billion in the Berkeley Manor Elementary School area of Camp Lejeune. The PCE level was 215 parts per billion, with one well supplying the water to consumers at Camp Lejeune having 18,900 parts per billion of TCE, 400 parts per billion of PCE, 8,070 parts per billion of dichloroethylene and 655 parts per billion of vinyl chloride.
Well HP-651 at Hadnot Point is removed from operation in February 1985.
On September 15, 1985, Reporter Jerry Allegood publishes a full investigation of “Waste Dumps” at Camp Lejeune in the Raleigh News & Observer. He notes the Base’s PR campaign to minimize the significance of the findings.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) indicates its belief that Camp Lejeune should be included on the National Priority List (NPL). The Base claims the EPA has no authority over it. The EPA is not notified of documented contamination events.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) places Camp Lejeune on the National Priorities List (NPL). The NPL is the list of high priority sites with known or threatened releases of hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants. The NPL helps guide the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to determine which sites warrant further investigation.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) publishes its final rules around maximum contamination levels for VOCs, including PCE and TCE. Along with state agency partners, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) becomes increasingly active in monitoring the presence of toxic substances in water, and developing control programs to regulate levels.
In December 1988, the Navy requests an ATSDR health assessment for Camp Lejeune.
On October 4, 1989, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) places Camp Lejeune on the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) National Priorities List (NPL). The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) is charged with conducting a Public Health Assessment (PHA).
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) finds that PCE is the main contaminant of concern in Tarawa Terrace’s drinking water system. The groundwater is contaminated both on site and nearby, with subsurface soil also identified as a public health concern.
After placing Camp Lejeune on the Superfund program’s National Priorities List (NPL) in October, 1989, the EPA enters into a Federal Facility Agreement (FFA) with the Navy and the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ) for site cleanup activities. The process includes both immediate activities and ongoing reviews.
In October 1994, ATSDR releases its “Initial Release” version of its assessment of Camp Lejeune.
It is reported that ATSDR complained to the Marines about lack of cooperation and limited access to records.
ATSDR publishes its final version of the report, identifying multiple public hazards, including a health hazard from exposure to contaminated water in Tarawa Terrace and Hadnot Point water systems, as well as contamination of the Holcomb Boulevard system. The report only briefly mentions the acknowledged issue of benzene contamination. Note: this report was revised and removed from the ATSDR website in 2009.
ATSDR recommends a health study to assess risk to children from maternal exposure during pregnancy.
ATSDR studies the health of children born from 1968 to 1985, with mothers who were exposed to contaminated drinking water during pregnancy. This study is published in 2001 in the American Journal of Epidemiology.
ATSDR surveys 12,598 parents whose children were in utero at Camp Lejeune between 1968 and 1985. The Survey is designed to identify and confirm all reported cases of specific birth defects and some types of childhood cancer. The Survey identifies 106 children with the relevant conditions.
ATSDR determines that its Camp Lejeune water-quality sampling data are limited, so it begins historical reconstruction of Tarawa Terrace and Hadnot Point water treatment plant service areas, looking for VOC-contaminated drinking water.
The Marine Corps convenes a Drinking Water Fact-Finding Panel for Camp Lejeune, focused on earlier contamination and including actions since. which finds that the Marine Corps responded appropriately with the information available – but more technical expertise would have allowed the Marines at the Base to understand the significance of the contamination. Moreover, former residents were not adequately informed about the contamination.
In February 2005, ATSDR convenes an expert panel to explore the need for and feasibility of conducting additional health studies of people exposed to contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune. In March, an expert panel evaluates the agency’s field data gathering activities at Camp Lejeune and water modeling approach. ATSDR technical staff considers the panel recommendations and implements them as appropriate.
The EPA Office of Inspector General investigated complaints about the EPA’s response to Freedom of Information Act requests about Camp Lejeune contamination. They found thet the EPA had not handled the requests appropriately. In a related investigation, the EPA was critical of Marine and Navy actions, but did not find criminal activity.
ATSDR begins its Exposure to Volatile Organic Compounds in Drinking Water and Specific Birth Defects and Childhood Cancers Study, which evaluates groups of children with and without health effects. Telephone interviews gather information about residence, other health factors, and amount of water mothers drank during pregnancy. Study includes use of water modeling data to determine which mothers received contaminated water.
ATSDR holds the first Community Assistance Panel (CAP) meeting with community members and non-government scientific experts. The CAP will help identify feasible studies for the future and prioritize them.
ATSDR analyzes Tarawa Terrace water treatment plant services and finds that, from November 1957 through February 1987, residents of Tarawa Terrace received drinking water with PCE contamination in excess of EPA’s maximum level.
ATSDR determines that additional studies are feasible and would be scientifically useful, particularly around mortality and cancer incidence among exposed people.
The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) describes to Congress the discovery and the efforts to address contamination at Lejeune. According to the GAO, former Camp Lejeune environmental officials failed to take steps to address the contamination, even after
TCE and PCE were identified, blaming the decision on inadequate knowledge and regulation, as well as questionable test results.
In January 2008, President George W. Bush signs the National Defense Authorization Act, which includes a requirement that the Department of the Navy work with ATSDR to conduct a health survey of persons possibly exposed to contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune.
In October 2008, the Marines continue to minimize the contamination problem in the media, reporting that the contamination was caused by a dry cleaner off base. The official televised report does not mention the more significant contamination caused by chemicals on the Base.
On May 7, 2009, ATSDR announces on its website the removal of the 1997 Public Health Assessment (PHA) due to additional information emerging related to exposures of volatile organic compounds in the drinking water at Camp Lejeune. Specifically, ATSDR notes discovery of additional information about VOCs in Camp Lejeune water: the Holcomb Boulevard water distribution system carried contaminated water. ATSDR also recognizes that the discovery of benzene in the water supply before 1985 was consequential, so it was moved from an appendix to the body of its assessment.
Senator Burr introduces S. 1518 “Caring for Camp Lejeune Veterans Act of 2009” in Senate. The legislation would require the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to provide health care to veterans and family members, exposed to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, who suffer certain diseases and conditions as a result. Hearings were held in the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. The Bill did not pass.
Parker Waichman and others bring the case of Erica Y. Bryant, Et Al V. United States of America, on behalf of former Lejeune residents who are diagnosed with diseases. The case ultimately reaches the United States Supreme Court as Parker Waichman continues to push the case forward. Parker Waichman has remained deeply involved in pushing forward the Camp Lejeune lawsuit timeline since.
Under a congressional mandate, the National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academies publishes a study about the potential health effects of Camp Lejeune’s water supply.
A Technical Workgroup – drawn from the Department of the Navy, the Marine Corps and ATSDR – conducts nine meetings to complete data gathering for water modeling and the epidemiologic studies.
ATSDR begins a mortality study looking at all causes of death for military and civilian personnel who lived/worked at Camp Lejeune between specific dates in the 1970s and 1980s. The study seeks to determine if these deaths are linked to exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune. The study includes an unexposed sample from Camp Pendleton.
Introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on February 2, 2010, the Janey Ensminger Act, making any veteran who was stationed at Camp Lejeune during a period of VOC contamination eligible for care and services through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
ATSDR releases the Hadnot Point-Holcomb Boulevard Chapter C Report, describing the occurrence of multiple VOCs in the groundwater, including PCE, TCE, benzene and vinyl chloride.
In July 2010, the Marine Corps publishes its own booklet on water at Camp Lejeune. The document – “Camp Lejeune: Historic Drinking Water, Questions and Answers” – downplays reports by ATSDR and the NRC. It claims that studies have shown no causal link between Camp Lejeune water and illness.
In September 2010, ATSDR responds to the Marine Corps booklet, noting specific associations between chemical contamination and adverse reactions.
ATSDR expert panel reviews process of confirming self-reported disease and survey evaluation bias and agrees to move forward with confirmation.
On February 4, 2011, the Judicial Panel on Multi-District Litigation consolidated Camp Lejeune cases in the U.S. District Court, Georgia Northern District, in front of Judge Thomas W. Thrash, Jr. The government moved to dismiss claims based on North Carolina’s statute of repose.
ATSDR mails its Health Survey of Former Marine Corps Personnel and Civilians to persons who lived or worked at Camp Lejeune when drinking water was contaminated and to persons living or working at Camp Pendleton during the same time period. The survey asks about more than 20 different cancers and diseases and provides opportunity to report diseases not mentioned.
ATSDR holds a public information forum for Camp Lejeune at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. The forum includes an update on ATSDR’s health survey and other activities, an open house, one-on-one question and answer sessions, and an update from the Community Assistance Panel (CAP).
The Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012 makes veterans who served on active duty at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days between January 1, 1957, and December 31, 1987 – and their family members – eligible for hospital care and medical services through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The bill applies to 15 listed cancers and other illnesses or conditions. H.R. 1627 passes, creating active-duty and family eligibility for VA help.
On April 16, 2012, the U.S. Justice Department files a motion to dismiss the seven lawsuits pending in the MDL, claiming they were barred by the U.S. Supreme Court’s Feres Doctrine, which holds that service members may not sue under the Federal Torts Claims Act for injuries “arising out of or sustained incident to military service.”
ATSDR releases Hadnot Point-Holcomb Boulevard Chapter B. The report includes information and data on the layers of sediment and groundwater beneath Camp Lejeune. This information provides a foundation for understanding groundwater flow and conducting water modeling.
The Data Mining Workgroup (established in 2010) delivers a complete accounting of Navy documents to ATSDR, with potentially relevant data for water modeling and more information about how the Camp Lejeune Drinking Water Systems were operated.
In December 2012, ATSDR releases Hadnot Point-Holcomb Boulevard Chapter D, summarizing investigations at 64 Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) study areas. The report reveals that water within the Hadnot Point Water Treatment Plant service area was contaminated with TCE, as well as PCE, and refined petroleum products, such as benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylenes (BTEX). Significant occurrence and distribution of refined petroleum products are revealed within areas served by the Hadnot Point and Holcomb Boulevard water treatment plants. Petroleum, oils, and lubricants (POLs) were stored in unmonitored, single-walled, underground storage tanks, which rusted and leaked, contaminating surrounding groundwater.
ATSDR releases Hadnot Point-Holcomb Boulevard Chapter A and supplements on March 15, 2013, concluding that drinking water distributed by the Hadnot Point treatment plant from August 1953 to January 1985 contained excessive amounts of five VOCs. Health studies are scheduled to follow the findings.
ATSDR launches a study of birth defects and childhood cancers, with the goal of determining if maternal exposure to the water contaminants at Camp Lejeune increased various birth risks, including neural tube defects, oral clefts, and childhood hematopoietic cancers. The study also examined whether exposed children faced higher cancer risks.
ATSDR launches a study of Mortality of Marine and Naval Personnel, with the goal of determining whether exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune increased risk of death from specific cancers and other chronic diseases among civilians employed at the base. ATSDR publishes reanalysis of a previous study, seeking to determine whether maternal exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune was associated with preterm birth and/or fetal growth retardation. On August , 2014, ATSDR releases its Civilian Mortality Study, concluding that civilian workers exposed to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune were more likely to die from several kinds of cancer and Parkinson’s disease than similar workers at Camp Pendleton, a Marine base in California. Specifically, ATSDR found that, for the period 1973-85, Camp Lejeune workers faced higher mortality rates from cancers of the female breast, kidney, lung, oral cavity, prostate, and rectum; kidney diseases; leukemias; multiple myeloma, and; Parkinson’s disease.
ATSDR publishes reanalysis of a previous study, seeking to determine whether maternal exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune was associated with preterm birth and/or fetal growth retardation.
In October 2014, the Circuit Court of Appeals rules against Lejeune claimants, finding that North Carolina’s statute of repose applies to plaintiffs’ claims. Despite revisions to North Carolina’s statute of repose, explicitly intended to protect military families’ right to sue over water contamination, the changes did not apply to the suit, as it was filed before North Carolina changed the statute. On remand, the district court granted the government’s motion to dismiss based on the statute of repose.
The General Assembly of North Carolina rejects the U.S. Supreme Court’s interpretation of its statute. According to the Assembly, the legislature intended to maximize the time a claimant had to bring a claim predicated on exposure to a regulated contaminant. The 10-year period in the statute was not intended as a bar to a personal injury action caused by contaminated groundwater.
The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals declines to revisit its ruling, despite the North Carolina legislature’s revision to its statute of repose. According to the Court, legislatives changes would not apply to the suit, which was filed before the changes passed the legislature.
ATSDR begins the Cancer Incidence Study, to determine whether exposures to the contaminated water increased the risk of specific cancers in Marine personnel and civilian employees at Camp Lejeune.
ATSDR reveals its initial Public Health Assessment (PHA) findings regarding exposure to VOCs in the Camp Lejeune drinking water. Public review and comment is invited.
In December 2016, the MDL court dismissed the Camp Lejeune FTCA claims, referencing: North Carolina’s 10-year statute of repose; the Discretionary Function Exception, which preserves sovereign immunity; the Feres doctrine, which prohibits suits by service members against the government.
On January 13, 2017, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) responds to a series of challenges to its disclosure process and announces amendments to its rules for presumptive service connection, including additional diseases associated with water contaminants at Camp Lejeune. The final rule applies to veteran Marines, reservists and Guardsmen who served at Camp Lejeune for at lesast 30 days between 1953 and 1987. If they have been diagnosed with one of eight diseases, the VA will presume that they incurred or aggravated that disease during the relevant period, for purposes of active military service.
On January 20, 2017, ATSDR publishes its “Assessment of the Evidence for the Drinking Water Contaminants at Camp Lejeune and Specific Cancers and Other Diseases.” On the basis of several epidemiological studies, ATSDR concludes that base residents face elevated risks for several cancers, including cancers of the kidney, rectum, prostate, lung, leukemias and multiple myeloma, when compared to similar unexposed cohorts from U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton.
Parker Waichman appeals the District Court decision to U.S. Court of Appeals, 11th Circuit. On May 22, 2019, the 11th Circuit affirms dismissal, finds claims are barred by NC’s statute of repose. A petition for rehearing en banc was also denied.
As of January 25, 2019, approximately 4,400 Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) claims alleging personal injury or wrongful death resulting from exposure to Camp Lejeune contaminants. Based on the 2016 dismissal of FTCA claims by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, the U.S. Department of Navy denies all 4,400 claims.
Parker Waichman and its partners appeal the Circuit Court’s decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, claiming that the circuit court decision has “effectively non-suited thousands of servicemen and their families injured at Camp Lejeune.” The appeal pointed to the language and intent of the North Carolina statute. The Supreme Court does not take the case.
On March 23, 2021, Senator Tillis introduces the Toxic Exposure in the American Military (TEAM) Act, to expand VA health care for veterans exposed to toxic substances. Hearings are held in the Veterans Affairs Committee.
On March 26, 2021, Representatives Matt Cartwright, Greg Murphy and David Price introduced the the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2021 to the House of Representatives. On June 17, 2021, various related bills are sent to committees for debate. On June 24, 2021, a committee votes to issue a report to the full House.
On November 4, 2021, Senators Tillis, Blumenthal, Burr and Peters introduced the Camp Lejeune Justice Act to the Senate. The Bill is read twice and then referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.
On February 1, 2022, Senator Tester introduces the Health Care for Burn Pit Veterans Act, which contains many of the provisions from Senator Tillis’ TEAM Act. On February 17, 2022, the U.S. Senate unanimously passes the The Bill.
On March 4, 2022, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Honoring our PACT Act of 2022. The Bill – which incorporates the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 and the Senate’s Burn Pit Act – permits injured military service members and their families to pursue legal justice for a variety of injuries caused by toxic conditions. The water contamination at Camp Lejeune is singled out.
On March 24, 2022, the Senate passes a related bill, the Dr. Kate Hendricks Thomas Supporting Expanded Review for Veterans In Combat Environments Act (also known as the Dr. Kate Hendricks Thomas SERVICE Act), expanding eligibility for Veterans Health Administration mammography screenings. This Bill, like the PACT Act, applies specifically to veterans who served in certain locations at certain periods, and explicitly includes those who were exposed to toxic substances. The Bill passes the House on May 18, 2022 and is signed by the President on June 7, 2022.
On May 24, 2022, the U.S. Senate’s Veterans Affairs Committee releases text of the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act of 2022. The Committee’s Bill closely followed the House Bill. On June 7, 2022, the full U.S. Senate votes for cloture.
On June 16, 2022, the Senate voted 84 to 14 to expand benefits to U.S. veterans facing the health effects of toxic exposure. The Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our PACT Act of 2022 addresses a broad group of veterans injured by toxic exposure, including burn pits and Agent Orange. It specifically provides for Marine and other service member’s families, as well as civilians, injured by toxic water at Camp Lejeune.
On June 17, 2022, the House Majority Leader indicates that the bill might be considered in the week ahead. A “technical” question returns the bill to committee before Congress leaves for recess.
After the Bill is approved in the House, it will go to the President, who has pledged to sign it immediately. The Camp Lejeune Lawsuit Timeline continues to evolve…