January 2024 Update: What’s the Latest on the Camp Lejeune Lawsuit Settlements?

The Camp Lejeune water contamination incident, which took place from 1953 to 1987, has had a lasting impact on the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.

Many have developed cancer, birth defects, and other life-threatening illnesses due to the contaminated water supply at the Marine Corps base in North Carolina. The legal battles over settlements for the affected veterans, family members, and civilian employees continue to this day.

However, recent developments have promised swift justice and compensation. They have also led to changes in the settlement amounts, eligibility, and deadlines for different claimant groups. 

This article provides the latest facts and figures around the Camp Lejeune settlement payouts expected in 2024.

How Do Camp Lejeune Lawsuits Work?

As TorHoerman Law puts it, the Camp Lejeune Justice Act (CLJA) establishes a legal process to help veterans and the families affected by the Camp Lejeune contaminated water seek compensation. 

Before filing a lawsuit, the CLJA requires going through a 6-month administrative claims process. During this period, you have to submit the claim to the appropriate federal agency, which then has 6 months to accept or reject it. The claimant cannot proceed with a lawsuit until the claim is denied or the deadline passes.

For most claims against the Navy, this administrative phase is a formality that leads to rejection and then a lawsuit. However, the CLJA may be different. The administrative process could function more like pre-filing mediation, where reasonable settlement offers are made to claimants who pass an initial screening. Many individuals might accept these settlement offers and not file further lawsuits.

This streamlined administrative process aligns with the CLJA’s intent to ensure victims receive compensation. It also matches President Biden’s strong support for compensating affected veterans. So the administrative claims phase may resolve many cases before reaching federal court.

Current Status of the Camp Lejeune Lawsuits

As of January 2024, there are two primary avenues for veterans seeking compensation: The PACT Act’s Elective Option and traditional lawsuits.

According to a joint status report released by the plaintiffs and defendants, over 147,000 administrative claims have been filed through the Elective Option. It provides the plaintiffs with tiered payments based on the severity of health conditions attributed to water contamination. This option represents a faster settlement process compared to traditional lawsuits, which currently number over 1,471.

Moreover, the Justice Department and the Department of the Navy are warning the public of fraud concerning the CLJA. The warning is to raise awareness about deceitful attempts to retrieve personal details or money from claimants. Fraudsters reach out via phone calls or emails and claim to be a Navy’s Camp Lejeune Claims Unit (CLCU) official. They, then, proceed to question you about your CLJA claim. 

Latest Developments and Settlements

The US government revealed that it has made 23 initial settlement offers, six of which have been accepted.

The accepted Camp Lejeune settlement amounts rack up to $1.45 million in compensation. These offers include a $250,000 settlement for a Parkinson’s claim, a $300,000 settlement for a non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma case, a $150,000 settlement for a bladder cancer lawsuit, and two $300,000 and one $150,000 settlement for three leukemia cases.

Despite the hefty payout, over 147,000 individuals are yet to be compensated. All of these claims are being processed under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022. Under this act, the affected individuals and their families are entitled to compensation if they display any symptoms of the 15 medical conditions listed by the Veterans Administration (VA). 

If eligible, the individuals can receive compensation anywhere from $100,000 to $550,000. This all depends on which tier their injury falls into. There are three tiers of compensation, with the highest payouts exceeding $450,000 for certain cancers and severe birth defects. Wrongful death cases can receive an extra $100,000. 

However, over 85% of the plaintiffs seeking compensation are not eligible for the Elective Option. This might force them to seek compensation via the US legal system. It is expected that the CLJA proceedings will become one of the largest mass torts in the country’s history by the time the claim filing deadline closes on August 10, 2024.

In conclusion, the Camp Lejeune lawsuit continues to evolve, offering hope and resolution to those affected by the devastating water contamination.

While challenges remain, the early settlement offers and streamlined administrative process under the CLJA offer a hint of justice. With deadlines fast approaching, eligible veterans, family members, and employees must understand the options available and act promptly. Remember, the deadline to file an administrative claim is August 10, 2024.

If you think you’re eligible, take action: gather your records, seek legal counsel, and initiate the process. You deserve the chance at fair compensation for a lifetime impacted by toxic water.

With courage and persistence, this chapter can see closure and hold accountable those responsible for one of America’s gravest military failures.

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