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Between 1953 and 1987, service members and their families were exposed to toxic substances in the Camp Lejeune water contamination. Many service members or family members were diagnosed with fatal medical conditions, including kidney cancer and other diseases. 

If you or a family member were exposed to contaminated water, you might be eligible to file a lawsuit. The law experts at Schmidt & Clark are among the most recognized in the United States and are willing to help.

Quick Summary

  • Camp Lejune was one of the most significant water contamination cases that occurred from 1950 to 1987.
  • The Camp Lejune water contamination has been linked to kidney cancer.
  • The water contamination at Camp Lejune caused other health effects, including leukemia, bladder cancer, liver cancer, and more.
  • Symptoms of kidney cancer include exhaustion, fever, unexplained weight loss, and more.
  • The Camp Lejune Justice Act has opened the door for many service members and their families to file lawsuits.

The Camp Lejeune Water Contamination and the Chemicals Found

A scientist looking at the camp lejeune water contamination chemicalsCamp Lejeune is among the largest Marine Corps bases in the United States, located in North Carolina. In the 1980s, it was discovered the water supply that served as drinking water for service members, their families, and employees were contaminated with toxic chemicals. 

Between 1950 and 1987, service members and their families living or working on the base were exposed to contaminated drinking water, which led to many adverse health outcomes, including chronic kidney disease [1]

The primary chemicals that the water at Camp Lejeune contained were perchloroethylene or PCE and trichloroethylene or TCE.

Both were present in the contaminated drinking water at 2,000 times above the maximum safe level established by the Environmental Protection Agency [2].

Related Article: Camp Lejeune Contaminated Water Lawsuit

Is the Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Linked to Kidney Cancer?

Yes, kidney cancer is one of the cancers with the strongest link to the water contamination at Camp Lejeune. Scientific studies have shown evidence to prove that exposure to the toxic chemicals in contaminated water causes health risks, including developing kidney cancer.

In 2018, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry determined the water at Camp Lejeune was related to a rise in the risk of kidney cancer. Exposure to TCE and PCE was associated with a risk of kidney cancer and chronic kidney disease [3].

Many studies suggest workplace exposure to certain substances increases the risk for renal cell carcinoma. Some of these substances are asbestos, some herbicides, benzene, and particularly trichloroethylene.”
William D. Dahut, MD, American Cancer Society

Kidney Cancer Causes

A doctor looking at causes of cancer

Kidney cancer is caused by many environmental, health, or genetic causes.

These include:

  • Smoking
  • Contaminated water
  • Family history of kidney cancer
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Long-term dialysis 
  • Tuberous sclerosis
  • Cancer treatments

Other Health Conditions Caused By Water Contamination

Based on scientific evidence and recent research, the following health conditions have been linked to Camp Lejeune veterans by the Department of Veterans Affairs [4].

These include:

Another study also linked exposure to contaminated water to adverse health effects like [5]:

Check out the other toxic tort lawsuits we’ve covered.

Symptoms of Kidney Cancer

A doctor talking to a patient in a hospital

Kidney cancer typically doesn’t have symptoms in the early stages, but over time, symptoms can develop, including:

  • Blood in the urine
  • Pain in your back or side
  • Appetite loss
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Exhaustion
  • Fever

Camp Lejeune Kidney Cancer Lawsuits and the Camp Lejeune Justice Act: Helping Victims Exposed

A lawyer and patient talking to each otherUntil recently, Camp Lejeune victims haven’t been able to bring civil lawsuits against the government due to a strict North Carolina statute.

The newly signed Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 has allowed victims of Camp Lejeune’s contaminated drinking water to file claims for exposure-related injuries [6].

Claims will still need to be proven, but this act allows for a lower degree of proof than a typical civil case. The burden of proof under this act will allow plaintiffs to prove exposure based on one valid study linking their adverse health outcomes to the contaminated water.

Burden of Proof

When you’re looking to bring a lawsuit against the government, there are a few factors you must prove. 

  1. First, you must have resided or worked at Camp Lejeune between 1953 and 1987. You can easily prove this through military records.
  2. Second, under the lower burden of proof provided by the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, you must prove exposure to the contaminated water based on a valid study that links your adverse health outcome to the volatile organic compounds in the water at Camp Lejeune.
  3. Third, The government has given a two-year deadline to file your claim, so it must be filed within this period.Related Article: Illnesses Caused by Camp Lejeune Water Contamination

Average Settlement

Due to the new nature of these cases, a direct average Camp Lejeune settlement amount can’t be quoted. However, the Congressional Budget Office estimated the Camp Lejeune claims would take around $6 billion to settle.

Kidney Cancer Settlements

A lawyer looking at kidney cancer settlements

Below are summaries of actual settlements in prior kidney cancer cases:

  • Heiser vs. Soble: $2,400,000 settlement. A 39-month delay in kidney cancer diagnosis to progress from stage 1 to stage 4. 
  • Senna vs. Joshi: $1,200,000 settlement. A failure to diagnose kidney cancer allowed the cancer to progress to the terminal stage resulting in death and an award for wrongful death.
  • Bartlett vs. Du Pont: $1,600,000 settlement. A woman sued a manufacturing company claiming she developed kidney cancer from exposure to chemicals in her water supply contaminated by the company.
  • Shelby vs. Exxon Mobil: $8,000,000 settlement. A man claimed he developed kidney cancer from exposure to toxic chemicals while working on an oil vessel.
  • Licolli vs. Boyko: $1,587,420 settlement. Failure to diagnose a man’s kidney cancer resulted in death.

FAQs

Can You Get VA Disability Benefits for Kidney Cancer?

You can get VA benefits at Camp Lejeune for kidney cancer. The VA rates your kidney cancer based on your disease status and other conditions caused by your cancer, like diabetes.

What Is the VA Rating for Kidney Cancer?

The VA disability rating for kidney cancer has five levels, 0 percent, 30, 60, 80, or 100 percent ratings. If you have kidney disease with no symptoms, that qualifies for a 0 percent rating; if you have extra fluid and swelling, that would be eligible for a 30 percent rating.

How Do I Know if Drinking Water Is Contaminated?

Besides testing, you will know if you are drinking contaminated water by a metallic taste, fishy smell, or cloudy appearance. Drinking water should be clear and free of odors.

How Long Will a Camp Lejeune Lawsuit Take To Settle?

The current estimate for settlements is 14 to 26 months. It will likely take a year before settlements are seen in the earliest Camp Lejeune lawsuits.

What Are the Most Common Symptoms of Drinking Contaminated Water?

The most common symptoms of drinking contaminated water include Diarrhea, stomach cramps, fever, nausea, vomiting, and dehydration.

How Long After Drinking Contaminated Water Will You Show Symptoms?

Anyone exposed to contaminated water usually shows symptoms within three to four days, but 

symptoms can appear as soon as day one or as late as day ten.

Has Any Camp Lejeune Lawsuit Been Settled?

As of April 2022, there have not been any Camp Lejeune settlements. Due to the new nature of the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, many victims can now file lawsuits that couldn’t before.

Who Is Responsible for the Camp Lejeune Water Contamination?

The ABC One-Hour Cleaners were responsible for the water contamination at the Camp Lejeune Tarawa Terrace water treatment plant. Their waste disposal practices contaminated the water with PCE [7].

Is the Water at Camp Lejeune Still Contaminated?

No, the water at Camp Lejeune isn’t contaminated today. After 1987 the water was evaluated and decontaminated and is now considered safe to drink, bathe, and use for any other purpose.

Can Contaminated Water Cause Kidney Problems?

Yes, contaminated water can cause kidney problems. Drinking water quality significantly influences public health, and prolonged exposure has increased the risk of cancer in the kidney, liver, and reproductive organs [8].

Get A Free Lawsuit Evaluation

If you resided or worked at Camp Lejeune for 30 days between 1953 and 1987 and were exposed to contaminated drinking water that caused you to develop kidney cancer or chronic kidney disease, our lawyers can help you file a lawsuit.  

Our experienced lawyers at Schmidt & Clark, LLP are filing claims for Camp Lejeune service members, workers, and other victims seeking damages for kidney cancer and other diseases caused by the water contamination at Camp Lejeune.

We can help you build a claim with evidence, file your claim, and represent you in court if necessary, so schedule your appointment today!


References:

  1. https://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/camp-lejeune/
  2. https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/sites/lejeune/faq_chemicals.html#:~:text=Trichloroethylene%20(TCE)%20was%20the%20 main,%CE%BCg%2FL%20in%20May%201982.
  3.  https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/sites/lejeune/morbiditystudy_factsheet.html
  4. https://www.va.gov/disability/eligibility/hazardous-materials-exposure/camp-lejeune-water-contamination/
  5.  https://misuse.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/error/abuse.shtml
  6. https://www.congress.gov/117/bills/s3373/BILLS-117s3373enr.xml#toc-H1974679CDA864491B1CB10D5F1E0BF71
  7. https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/sites/lejeune/background.html
  8. https://www.nature.com/articles/srep42516

 

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