Government attorneys and those representing plaintiffs who allege that they were exposed to polluted water at Camp Lejeune filed a joint memorandum, requesting a case management order and the consolidation of all Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 cases.
If granted, the motion, filed on March 23, would technically alter the litigation status of Camp Lejeune lawsuits outside of class action status.
For Camp Lejeune plaintiffs, if the motion is granted, the proceedings in the prediscovery phase of the litigation would be more organized, which is why government attorneys are also party to the joint memorandum. In addition, a settlement may be more likely if the cases were consolidated rather than remaining a class action, some plaintiffs’ attorneys contend.
A previous attempt to consolidate Camp Lejeune lawsuits was denied in Sept. 2022 by a court in North Carolina, home to the sprawling U.S. Marine Corps base, where up to one million veterans and civilians may have been exposed to toxic water. The court ruled that the plaintiffs had filed their claim too early and failed to complete the mandatory administrative requirements of the Camp Lejeune Justice Act (CLJA).
Enacted in August 2022, the CLJA is part of the Honoring Our PACT Act, which allowed veterans and their family members who were exposed to toxic water at Camp Lejeune between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987, to file a lawsuit against the U.S. government even though the statute of limitations for personal injury claims had passed in North Carolina.
Several cases have been filed as wrongful death lawsuits rather than damage claims of various illnesses, including several types of cancers, owing to the fact that many plaintiffs were first exposed to the allegedly toxic water many decades ago and have died, according to Roll Call.
Before filing a lawsuit, Camp Lejeune plaintiffs must have their case filed with the Navy’s Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps. Roughly 200 lawsuits have been filed in federal court in North Carolina by Camp Lejeune plaintiffs who did not have their claims acted on or approved by the JAG Corps. Approximately 20,000 pending claims have been filed with the JAG Corps, and thousands more are likely.
Critics of the Camp Lejeune administrative process assert that a claim resolution process has yet to be set up, and the purpose of the CLJA was to do just that.
"The Department of the Navy choosing not to pay any [claimants] is helping nobody. It's just creating a litigation backlog," one Camp Lejeune plaintiff attorney told Roll Call.
If you were exposed to toxic water at Camp Lejeune, contact us for a free case review.