To give Camp Lejeune survivors another option to receive compensation after the government hadn’t settled a single claim, the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Navy came up with a payout system in September 2023 called the Elective Option (EO), which might benefit those veterans with a terminal illness. This new settlement has its pros and cons, but opting out of the EO could be a better choice for others who have more time on their hands: one consideration is that an EO could potentially result in a smaller award than if the veteran chose to fight their case to the end in a lawsuit. Another is that accepting the EO means claimants forfeit their right to sue the government over Camp Lejeune water contamination.
According to the Public Guidance document, the EO process allows claimants to resolve certain Camp Lejeune Justice Act (CLJA) claims more quickly and more efficiently than in litigation, which might otherwise require resolution; accepting an EO offer will not affect the claimant’s VA benefits, and an EO settlement will not be offset due to a VA benefit through a reduction in the settlement amount for benefits paid or a VA lien. The EO offers a payout settlement without requiring litigation. However, only certain health conditions qualify for this option. The first track (or tier) is for diseases with a proven link to Camp Lejeune toxic water exposure, and the second is for illnesses with a possible connection. Lawsuits involve nearly 40 diseases said to be connected to the water at Camp Lejeune.
Cases in Track 1 include plaintiffs diagnosed with:
- Liver cancer,
- Bladder cancer,
- Kidney cancer,
- Non-Hodgkins lymphoma, and
- Parkinson's disease.
Tier 2 Illnesses:
- Multiple Myeloma
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Kidney Disease/End-Stage Renal Disease
- Systemic Sclerosis/Systemic Scleroderma
- Less than 1 year
- One to 5 years
- More than 5 years
|Duration of Exposure
|Tier 1 Illness
|Tier 2 Illness
|Under 1 Year
|Over 5 Years
Camp Lejeune Settlements
The government has made its first settlement offers and payments, reported Reuters, but as of November 10, the government had only made offers to 23 people, of only three of whom accepted settlements for their injuries from the Camp Lejeune contaminated water, for a total of $850,000. The government is offering payments between $100,000 and $550,000.
Cancer and Mortality Studies
Kenneth Cantor, a former National Cancer Institute epidemiologist and familiar with the research, told Reuters in early November that cancer and mortality studies conducted by a U.S. health agency have found elevated cancer rates in veterans and civilians who lived and worked at Camp Lejeune. Cantor said that the study increases the known number of cancers linked to contaminated drinking water at the base, and the findings also provide the strongest evidence to date that the contaminated water caused cancer.
READ MORE CAMP LEJEUNE CONTAMINATED WATER LEGAL NEWS
A law professor who specializes in environmental tort cases said this study showing increased cancer rates could encourage even more plaintiffs to sue the U.S. government.
Camp LeJeune Statistics
The numbers are staggering:
- More than 117,000 administrative claims are pending with the U.S. Navy
- More than 1,300 lawsuits are in federal court in North Carolina
- The government estimated that the 117,000 administrative claims it faces could cost $3.3 trillion. Claims can be filed through August 2024.