On September 24, 2020, five Democrats and four Republicans drafted and co-sponsored a bipartisan Bill that will establish a cause of action for people who were harmed after they were exposed to toxic water at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, and for additional purposes. The Act’s description reads, “To provide for recovery by individuals who were stationed, lived, or worked at Camp Lejeune, for certain actions of omissions by the United States.” The Act is currently cited as the “Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022.”
On March 1, 2022, the U.S. House Rules Committee reported out the Bill, which was sent to the floor This vote paves the way for the U.S. House of Representatives to vote on the Act.
The Federal Cause of Action Regarding Camp Lejeune Toxic Water Claims
If the Bill passes the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate, and is signed into law by President Biden, individuals or their legal representatives, who lived, worked, or were exposed (including exposure in utero) for at least 30 days from August 1, 1953, through December 31, 1987, to drinking water on Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, provided by, or on behalf of, the United States of America will be able to file lawsuits in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina to receive compensation for harm caused by exposure to Camp Lejeune’s contaminated water.
In order for claimants to bring the legal actions, the burden of proof will be on the claimant, and they must show one or more associations between Camp Lejeune’s drinking water and the harm caused by the contaminated water. To meet that burden of proof, a claimant must provide evidence showing the connection between Camp Lejeune’s groundwater and the injury is:
- adequate enough to conclude that a causal association exists; or
- satisfactory enough to conclude that a causal connection is likely.
The exclusive jurisdiction for all Camp Lejeune lawsuits will be the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, and it will be there that these cases will proceed. The Bill also grants Camp Lejeune plaintiffs the right to a trial by jury.
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 also states that any award given to a claimant, or legal representative of a claimant, will be offset by the amount of any payment, benefits provided to the claimant, disability award under:
- any programs administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs;
- Medicare programs under title XVIII of the Social Security Act (42 20 U.S.C. 1395 et seq.), and title XIX of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1396 et seq.); and
- in association with medical treatment or a disability connected to toxic water exposure at Camp Lejeune.
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 prevents the United States government from asserting any claim of immunity that is available under Section 2680(a) of Title 28, of the United States Code. Moreover, claimants would be barred from pursuing punitive damages under this section. The Bill also requires claimants to comply with Section 2675 of Title 28, United States Code. Section 2675 of Title 28 of the United States Code limits liability against an employee of the Federal Government, limits the amount of time in which an injured party may file their claim, and prevents an excessive amount of damages paid to the claimant. The Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2021 does not apply to any lawsuit or claim originating from combatant activities while serving in the Armed Forces.
Applicability and Statute of Limitations
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 is not law at this time. However, if the Bill is signed into law, claimants with injuries diagnosed before the law was enacted will be permitted to file their claims. The statute of limitations on Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuits in North Carolina has already expired. However, the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 would extend that statute of limitations in North Carolina for an additional two years only. Under the Act, claims cannot be initiated beyond two years from the date the Act is signed into law (or 180 days after the claimant’s action was denied under Title 28, Section 2675 of the United States Code.) Any applicable statute of limitations or statute of repose other than paragraph (2) in the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 will not apply.
CONTACT PARKER WAICHMAN LLP FOR A FREE CASE REVIEW
Did you or a loved one work at Camp Lejeune from 1953 to 1987? Parker Waichman LLP helps those who have suffered harm from contaminated water receive full monetary compensation. Trust your case with our legal professionals. For a free consultation, contact our law firm today by using our live chat or calling 1-800-YOUR-LAWYER (1-800-968-7529).
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