February 23, 2024

Camp Lejeune Lawsuit Settlement Timeline and Payouts: Important Things to Know

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If there is one lawsuit that attorneys are especially focusing on this year, it is that of the water contamination incident of North Carolina’s Camp Lejeune. Residents at this US Marine Corps Base suffered severe injuries after consuming water laden with volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

Though the tragedy is decades old (1953 – 1987), its victims had never been offered any legal justice (only free healthcare). In August 2022, President Joe Biden made way for compensation through the Camp Lejeune Justice Act (CLJA).

This Bill specifically states that the Federal government will put aside its sovereignty in court to offer victims the justice they deserve. It’s been over a year since the official signing, and tensions regarding fair settlements are brewing.

In this article, we will discuss the Camp Lejeune litigation timeline to understand how long victims must wait for payouts.

Steps Involved in the Camp Lejeune Litigation Timeline

Let’s look at the different stages involved in the Camp Lejeune water contamination litigation.

Determining Eligibility

The first step is for an individual to determine whether they are eligible to file a personal injury lawsuit associated with the Camp Lejeune water contamination.

In general, it is required that all military servicemen, their civilian families, and other workers must have been exposed to the Camp’s toxic waters for at least 30 days between 1953 and 1987.

The victims must be prepared to provide evidence of how their injuries are a direct result of consuming Camp Lejeune’s water. According to TorHoerman Law, most victims developed life-threatening severe conditions like multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, infertility, birth defects, cancer, etc.

Filing an Administrative Claim with the Navy

Once an individual is aware that they qualify to pursue a payout for Camp Lejeune, the next stage is administrative claim filing. As per the CLJA, victims cannot file a lawsuit directly. They must first file an administrative claim with the Navy Judge Advocate General (JAG).

News reports have exposed this claims process to be complex and sluggish. This is why those with the professional help of reliable attorneys stand a better chance at fair settlements. After the paperwork is done, the Navy has 180 days or six months to resolve a claim.

Awaiting a Resolution

If a claimant’s administrative claim is denied by the Navy or they fail to hear back within 180 days, other options are available. They can then take their case to court by filing a lawsuit. As of now, over 1,400 lawsuits have already been filed due to this reason.

The decision only becomes more complicated with the Navy’s introduction of the voluntary elective option. The government has provided this settlement method to accelerate the litigation’s pace (and reduce claim numbers).

However, the plaintiff’s counsel fears that this option would secure significantly low payouts. It only makes sense in those cases where proving a direct connection between the claimant’s injuries and the Camp’s waters is challenging. It is best if most victims take their cases to court with the help of experienced lawyers.

Negotiations and Lawsuit Filing

It is expected that there will be plenty of back-and-forth negotiations before cases are settled. While lawyers are helping claimants with that, those who have waited over six months are suing the government.

The Camp Lejeune lawsuit is completely separate from the VA. How the Navy determines payouts for thousands of cases expected to flood the court is yet to be revealed. Speculations circulate that the general method will be batch processing based on the plaintiff’s age, severity of injuries, etc.

How Long Will Individual Case Settlements Take?

 As veterans anxiously wait for the Camp Lejeune litigation’s outcome, some have already succumbed to their injuries. Furthermore, many victims are even nearing natural death given the timeline for justice.

Even as of now, attorneys are speculating that it may take another 12 to 18 months before individual payouts are made. Each case’s outcome will depend on factors like its complexity, the victim’s injuries, etc.

This is why numerous claimants have decided to accept the government’s fast-track elective settlement option. Those who have not are waiting for Bellwether trial verdicts. The case selection for the discovery process is currently underway, and trials are expected to take place in March 2024.

Will All Cases Be Settled?

Another question that many claimants have is whether all cases will be settled positively. As of now, no settlements have been made, and the payout process (even after trials) is expected to extend roughly till 2033.

Under the voluntary elective option, four payouts (totaling $1 million) have been made. On average, an individual payout may range between $25,000 and $1 million. It is yet to be seen whether all cases will be offered settlements.

If not, the respective plaintiff’s attorney can debate the case in court for retrieval. This will largely depend on the case’s conditions, including the plaintiff’s physical injuries, emotional suffering, lost wages, age, etc.

In closing, it is important to mention that the CLJA offers a statute of limitations of two years from the date of the Bill’s enactment. This means Camp Lejeune victims have time till August 2024 to file an administrative claim. With the current situation, thousands of cases could be filed in the upcoming months.

As of now, claimants/plaintiffs and their attorneys wait with bated breath for the litigation’s outcome.