Camp Lejeune Justice Act Update: The Voluntary Elective Option
In a remarkable move towards justice, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of the Navy have jointly announced a groundbreaking initiative that promises a more efficient resolution for Camp Lejeune Justice Act (CLJA) claims. This “Voluntary Elective Option” represents a significant milestone in the ongoing efforts to address the legacy of contamination at Camp Lejeune, a Marine Corps base that has grappled with toxic environmental contamination for decades. By delving into the background of the Camp Lejeune contamination issue, we can better understand the importance of the new elective option, and its implications for those affected.
Camp Lejeune: A Legacy of Environmental Contamination
Camp Lejeune, located on the coast of North Carolina, has been marred by decades of environmental contamination stemming from the improper disposal of hazardous chemicals and pollutants. For years, service members, their families, and civilian employees stationed at the base were exposed to toxic substances, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and industrial solvents, through their drinking water supply. This exposure has been linked to many health issues, including cancer, neurological disorders, and birth defects.
In response to these concerns, the Camp Lejeune Justice Act was enacted in 2012. This act aimed to provide compensation and medical care to individuals suffering from health conditions related to the contamination. However, the process of seeking compensation and medical care has been marked by complexity, bureaucracy, and lengthy legal battles, leaving many victims frustrated and discouraged. As a severe injury lawyer, I do my best to help guide victims through this process, but I understand how frustrating pursuing such lawsuits can be!
The Voluntary Elective Option: A New Approach to Justice
Recognizing the need for a more streamlined and efficient process, the DOJ and the Department of the Navy have introduced the Voluntary Elective Option (or EO). This initiative offers claimants an alternative path to seek resolution of their claims, with a focus on expediency and fairness.
Key features of the Elective Option include:
- Simplified Claims Process: Under this option, claimants can opt for a simplified claims process, reducing the burden of extensive documentation and legal procedures.
- Expedited Compensation: The initiative prioritizes speedy resolution of claims, ensuring that victims receive compensation and medical care in a more timely manner.
- Independent Review: The program includes an independent review of claims to ensure fairness and impartiality, giving claimants confidence in the process.
- Legal Assistance: Claimants will have access to legal assistance and support throughout the process, helping them navigate the complexities of their claims.
Implications for Affected Individuals and Families
The Elective Option represents a ray of hope for the many individuals and families affected by the Camp Lejeune contamination. By simplifying the claims process, expediting compensation, and providing access to legal support, this initiative may offer a more compassionate and efficient way for victims to seek justice and redress their grievances.
The program also underscores the government’s commitment to addressing the long-standing environmental issues at Camp Lejeune and supporting those who have suffered as a result. It reflects a proactive approach to rectify the mistakes of the past and ensure that those affected receive the assistance they deserve.
The Department of the Navy (DON) now can make settlement offers to qualifying claimants with diseases that the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) has determined are linked to the chemicals found in the water at Camp Lejeune. Award amounts are tiered, based on the ATSDR’s classification of the strength of the evidence linking the contamination with a particular disease, along with the amount of time the individual spent at Camp Lejeune.
- Tier 1 Diagnoses: Claimants with diseases for which the ATSDR has substantiated evidence of causation – kidney cancer, liver cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, leukemia and bladder cancer – would receive settlement offers of $450,000, $300,000 or $150,000, depending on whether the claimant was exposed to Camp Lejeune water for over five years, between one and five years, or between 30 and 364 days, respectively.
- Tier 2 Diagnoses: Claimants with diseases to which the ATSDR has linked possible evidence of causation, including multiple myeloma, Parkinson’s disease, kidney disease (end stage renal disease), systemic sclerosis/systemic scleroderma, will be awarded settlement offers of $400,000, $250,000, or $100,000, depending on whether the claimant was exposed to Camp Lejeune water for over five years, between one and five years, or between 30 and 364 days, respectively.
Claims involving death will receive an additional $100,000.
The announcement of the Elective Option by the DOJ and the Department of the Navy marks a significant step toward a more efficient and compassionate resolution for Camp Lejeune Justice Act claims. This option offers hope to those who have long battled the aftermath of toxic environmental contamination, streamlining the process and expediting compensation and medical care. As we move forward as a country, we hope this initiative will serve as a beacon of justice and accountability, reinforcing the government’s commitment to addressing past mistakes and supporting those affected by them.
Camp Lejeune water contamination is a serious and urgent matter that deserves attention and action. At the Herd Law Firm, PLLC, we support every man, woman, and child exposed to contaminants at Camp Lejeune, and believe you deserve quality, attentive legal representation. We are proud to be able to aid our veterans and their families in seeking restitution for their injuries, and have been entrusted by the VFW to handle these claims on behalf of Veterans and their families.
Please note: with regard to the new Voluntary Elective Option, all claims must be filed as separate lawsuits no later than August 10th, 2024.
More information is available at http://www.navy.mil/clja.
Image Source: U.S. Marines Corps