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Camp LeJeune First Hearing

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The first consolidation hearing under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 was held so that the government be held accountable for victims sickened by contaminated water at Camp Lejeune.

Raleigh, NC The first Camp Lejeune hearing to hold the government accountable for victims—Marines and their families-- who were sickened by toxic water at Marine Base Camp Lejeune was held on April 5, 2023. Two Camp Lejeune survivors present were Jerry Ensminger, whose daughter passed away after battling leukemia, and Mike Partain, a male breast cancer survivor.

A raft of Camp Lejeune claims and civil lawsuits have been filed since Congress enacted the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 last August. But to date, the Navy Jag has only received about 20,000 claims from Camp Lejeune victims, none of which have been resolved. Judge Dever said, “The Navy needs to step up its game.” Over 200 civil lawsuits have been filed.

Camp Lejeune Hearing

Notes of the consolidation hearing, which was held at the US District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, were provided by trial attorney Mikal Watts. Judge Dever asked the DOJ lawyer how many administrative claims have been filed and how many have seen an offer made which resolved the case? About 20,000 and none resolved, was the reply. 

“It’s disappointing to hear that there haven’t been any offers…Congress knew there were only four judges in the district, so we must presume that the administrative process was supposed to settle the cases,” Judge Dever said. “The Navy needs to step up its game [in this regard]...  We will make available Magistrate Judges to assist in the mediation process…Remember, $10 today is worth more than $100 ten years from now.”

The process is as follows:
The DOJ is to propose a master complaint. The four courts will set up a Master Docket so the rulings of one judge can be seen by all four, and all the parties. The key issues in the case are
1.     Exposure Dates
2.     The Claimed Injury
3.     Evidence of Causation
a.     General Causation
b.     Specific Causation

Judge Dever said that a database with basic facts is required. “What pollutants were on the base, and when and where were these pollutants there? It would be very helpful for the DOJ to provide this information from the old Camp Lejeune MDL litigation, or stipulate to those facts.” Judge Dever went on, “This is an easy case. Does the science establish general causation that the chemicals known to be there cause the conditions alleged? If the science permits that connection, then we’ll have trials.”

In a subsequent press release, Judge Dever emphasized that this Camp Lejeune litigation will advance quickly by referring to the Roman Empire. He asked the DOJ lawyer how long the Roman Empire lasted. He didn’t know so Dever answered his own question. It began at 610 BC and fell in 476 AD after 1101 years. And it fractured into an eastern and a western sector, which lasted from 286 AD to 1453 AD, when Constantinople fell, making the entire duration of the empire last 2,078 years.

Dever explained that the four judges of the Eastern District of North Carolina each presently have 200 Camp Lejeune cases apiece.  Cases in his court allege 27 diseases and 90 general conditions.

If the experts are correct and 1,000,000 Camp Lejeune cases are coming, and if each Judge in the district tried one case a day, 5 days a week for 52 weeks a year, and only worked on Camp Lejeune cases (completely ignoring the other dockets), it would take us 961 ½ years to try them all. If each judge worked on their other cases half the time, and Camp Lejeune cases ½ the time, it would take 1,923 years to try them all – roughly the entire span of the Roman Empire.

If each case went to trial independently, it would take the four U.S. District Court of Eastern North Carolina judges 1,900 years to get through — around the same time span of the Roman Empire. “Congress hopes it takes less than 1,900 years to resolve these cases,” quipped Judge Dever.

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