Water is essential to human life, which is why it is important to ensure that it is clean and safe for people to drink. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, as the water gets contaminated by harmful chemicals and pollutants. You must contact a personal injury lawyer immediately if you ever face severe water contamination issues. You might be entitled to compensation depending on the extent of the harm to your health.
This article will look at how Camp Lejeune's water contamination changed the history of lawsuits.
What is Camp Lejeune?
Camp Lejeune is the United States Marine Corps Base in Jacksonville, North Carolina. The base was commissioned in 1941 and named in honor of Major General John A. Lejeune. Camp Lejeune is the largest Marine Corps base on the east coast and is home to more than 50,000 military personnel and their families. The base has a rich history and has been involved in many major military operations.
How was the water contaminated?
The source of the contamination was a leaky underground fuel storage tank near one of the base's water wells. The tank leaked benzene and other chemicals into the groundwater, which flowed into the base's water supply. Many stories explain the never-ending water contamination issues.
History of Camp Lejeune water contamination
On July 26th, North Carolina residents living near Camp Lejeune received letters from their water utility informing them that the base's water was contaminated and unsafe to drink. The letters directed residents to boil or use bottled water for drinking and cooking. The day after the letters were sent, hundreds of people lined up at local grocery stores to buy water bottles.
Since the contamination was first discovered between 1953 to 1987, 3,000 military personnel have been affected, and over 1,500 lawsuits have been filed. Many are still dealing with the aftermath. The drinking water at Camp Lejeune was contaminated with a chemical called trichloroethylene (TCE), which is known to cause cancer and other health problems.
In addition to the health concerns, many military families have also been left struggling financially after being forced to move away from the camp. Despite these concerns, the military has done little to help those affected.
The contamination got acknowledged
In 2009, the federal government finally acknowledged the Water Problem at Camp LeJeune and offered $2.5 billion in compensation to those affected. However, many victims have not received any money, as the process of determining who is eligible for compensation is still ongoing.
In March 2018, a group of Camp Lejeune veterans filed a lawsuit against 3M Corporation, alleging that the company knew about the dangers of the chemicals but did nothing to warn service members or their families.
Who is suing?
More than a thousand former residents of Camp Lejeune have filed lawsuits against the federal government, seeking damages for illnesses they believe were caused by the water contamination.
The lawsuits allege that the federal government knew about the contamination but failed to take steps to protect camp residents from it. Some plaintiffs have developed cancer or other serious illnesses and accuse the government of negligence in handling the water contamination.
So far, the federal government has settled some of these lawsuits for undisclosed amounts of money. But many more lawsuits are still pending, and it is unclear how they will be resolved.
What are the potential outcomes of the lawsuit?
In early 2015, the Marines Corps announced that it would begin paying $2 billion in damages to former residents of Camp Lejeune whose water was contaminated with toxic chemicals. The lawsuit, which lasted more than a decade, could have had several potential outcomes.
One possibility was that the Marines would be found liable for the contamination and would be forced to pay billions of dollars in damages. Another outcome could have been that the Marines would be cleared of wrongdoing, and the residents would receive no compensation.
A third possibility was that the court would rule that the Marines were partially responsible for the contamination and would order them to pay a smaller amount in damages. This ultimately happened, as the court ruled that the Marines were 60% responsible for the pollution.
It's been more than 30 years since the drinking water at Camp Lejeune was found to be contaminated with industrial solvents and toxins. Still, former residents are only beginning to receive government recognition and compensation for their illnesses. The contamination began in the early 1950s, and the worst-affected wells were shut down in 1984.
But it wasn't until earlier this year that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs acknowledged that the water had caused health problems for many who drank from it, including cancer, congenital disabilities, and reproductive problems.