A Milestone in History: One Year of the Camp Lejeune Justice Act

Camp Lejeune Act 101 - What Veterans Need to Know About the Pact Act

August 10, 2023 is the one-year anniversary of the Camp Lejeune Justice Act being signed into law.

In its first year, the Camp Lejeune Justice Act has allowed thousands of veterans and their families to seek justice following illnesses caused by exposure to toxic water at U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina

As we commemorate the anniversary of the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, we celebrate everything the act stands for. It is a testament to the power of legislation in addressing past injustices and providing hope for a brighter future.

However, the deadline for victims to file a Camp Lejeune lawsuit is fast approaching.

Anyone who lived or worked on the base for at least 30 days between August 1953 and December 1987 only has until August 2024 — just one more year — to pursue compensation from a toxic water lawsuit.

Update on Camp Lejeune Justice Act | 2023

The Camp Lejeune Justice Act introduced a two-year time period for victims to take legal action for injuries caused by the contaminated water on base. However, it also established a preliminary 6-month administrative claims process as a prerequisite to pursuing formal lawsuits.

As of June 2023, more than 70,000 legal claims have been filed with the U.S. Navy JAG (Judge Advocate General’s Corps) by veterans and their family members. Over 1,000 Camp Lejeune lawsuits have already been filed, and thousands more are expected to follow.

Due to the high number of claims, the four judges trying Camp Lejeune cases have pursued a consolidation process, which would allow key aspects of different lawsuits — like the discovery phase and motions filed by expert witnesses — to be combined.

Unfortunately, the U.S. government has been accused of delaying water contamination claims and even provided a list of defenses in an answer to a recent Camp Lejeune lawsuit — but Sokolove Law is prepared to help veterans and their families get justice.

Working with an experienced Camp Lejeune lawyer can help those impacted by illnesses from toxic water exposure stand up for their rights and fight for the compensation they deserve.

However, time is running out for those who wish to file a Camp Lejeune claim. Veterans and survivors only have until August 2024 to file a Camp Lejeune lawsuit due to deadlines known as the statute of limitations.

How Does the Camp Lejeune Justice Act Help Veterans?

In addition to expanding VA benefits, the Camp Lejeune Justice Act allows victims of toxic water contamination to file lawsuits against the U.S. government and pursue compensation for the harm they experienced.

Prior to the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, victims and their families were not allowed to sue for medical issues linked to the water contamination on base.

This legislation applies to civilian workers, military members, and their families who were exposed to dangerous chemicals in the water at Camp Lejeune for a minimum of 30 days between August 1, 1953 and December 31, 1987.

It’s estimated that 1 million people were exposed to the toxic water at Camp Lejeune. The contaminated water is known to cause cancer, birth defects, and other serious health conditions.

While a Camp Lejeune settlement cannot undo the harm that so many families have experienced as a result of the toxic water, it can provide victims with compensation for pain and suffering, medical costs, lost wages, daily living expenses, and more.

Ricky A. LeBlanc, Managing Attorney at Sokolove Law

“Our veterans and their families knew they signed up to make the ultimate sacrifice in war to defend our freedoms, but did not expect to be poisoned by our own government. I am relieved that these individuals will finally be able to seek justice, after years of having no remedy.”
– Ricky A. LeBlanc, Managing Attorney at Sokolove Law

What Is the PACT Act?

What many may not realize is that the Camp Lejeune Justice Act was part of a bigger effort to help support veterans affected by toxic exposure during military service known as the PACT Act.

Two male veterans smiling at each other

The Sergeant First Class (SFC) Heath Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act offers the most significant increase in critical health care and disability benefits to millions of veterans and their families in more than three decades.

Sergeant First Class Robinson, the bill's namesake, was a member of the Ohio National Guard who died of lung cancer in 2000 as a result of extensive smoke exposure from burning pits while stationed in Iraq.

The act allows those impacted by exposure to burn pits, Agent Orange, and other toxic substances to pursue benefits through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

The PACT Act also:

  • Ensures that VA staff members who manage screenings, such as lab testing and specimen collection, are well-trained
  • Expands screenings and treatment services for veterans exposed to toxic chemicals
  • Redefines and reevaluates the approach applied to verify exposure to toxins

The Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 is a bipartisan bill that was included in the PACT Act geared specifically toward veterans who were stationed at U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, where the water was contaminated with hazardous chemicals for decades.

What Happened at Camp Lejeune?

The history of the water contamination at Camp Lejeune spans more than 30 years.

Between 1953 and 1987, dangerous chemicals known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) contaminated the drinking water of the largest U.S. Marine Corps Base on the east coast. These chemicals put residents and civilian workers at risk for several long-term illnesses.

Chemicals found in the water at Camp Lejeune included:

  • Benzene
  • Perchloroethylene
  • Trichloroethylene
  • Vinyl chloride

Nearly 45 years after the last recorded incident of water contamination on base, the Camp Lejeune Justice Act recognizes these harms and allows veterans who suffered from related illnesses to seek compensation.

Camp Lejeune Illnesses

Through the PACT Act, Camp Lejeune veterans and their families who have experienced serious health issues may be able to seek compensation for their suffering.

Health issues from the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune include:

  • ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease
  • Aplastic anemia
  • Birth defects
  • Bladder cancer
  • Brain cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Cervical cancer
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Crohn's disease
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Female infertility
  • Heart attacks and disease
  • Hepatic steatosis (fatty liver disease)
  • Kidney cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Miscarriage
  • Multiple myeloma (plasma cell cancer)
  • Myelodysplastic syndromes (disorder that affects blood cell production)
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Prostate cancer
  • Rectal cancer
  • Sarcoma
  • Scleroderma (inflamed, hard skin)

A Camp Lejeune claim can be filed on behalf of a family member who passed away from one of these illnesses years ago. This is known as a Camp Lejeune wrongful death lawsuit.

“Prior to this legislation, the biggest challenge for Camp Lejeune veterans was getting the VA to admit that their health conditions were actually caused by the toxic water. I hope this new bill will encourage the VA to step up and help our veterans who have been diagnosed with health issues from Camp Lejeune.”
– Teresa, Military Spouse & Former Camp Lejeune Resident

Get Help Filing Your Camp Lejeune Claim

As we move forward into the final year for Camp Lejeune claims, Sokolove Law remains committed to upholding the principles of the Camp Lejeune Justice Act and fulfilling our duty to those who have served and sacrificed for our nation.

For over 45 years, Sokolove Law has helped veterans and their families who have been injured through no fault of their own, like those exposed to the toxic drinking water at Camp Lejeune.

To date, we’ve secured over $9.4 Billion for our clients nationwide.

Thousands have already filed, and the U.S. government is actively evaluating claims — but you only have a small window left to take action!

Author:
Sokolove Law Team

Contributing Authors

The Sokolove Law Content Team is made up of writers, editors, and journalists. We work with case managers and attorneys to keep site information up to date and accurate. Our site has a wealth of resources available for victims of wrongdoing and their families.

Last modified: July 3, 2024

  1. Navy JAG Corps. “Camp Lejeune Justice Act Claims.” Retrieved from: https://www.jag.navy.mil/legal-services/code-15/camp-lejeune/. Accessed on August 10, 2023.
  2. NPR. “Four judges take on possibly tens of thousands of lawsuits over Camp Lejeune water.” Retrieved from: https://www.npr.org/2023/06/07/1180840816/four-judges-take-on-possibly-tens-of-thousands-of-lawsuits-over-camp-lejeune-wat. Accessed on August 10, 2023.
  3. Reuters. “Inundated with Camp Lejeune cases, government urges judges to speed up consolidation.” Retrieved from: https://www.reuters.com/legal/government/inundated-with-camp-lejeune-cases-government-urges-judges-speed-up-consolidation-2023-06-20/. Accessed on August 10, 2023.
  4. United States Department of Veterans Affairs. "Camp Lejeune water contamination health issues." Retrieved from: https://www.va.gov/disability/eligibility/hazardous-materials-exposure/camp-lejeune-water-contamination/. Accessed on August 10, 2023.
  5. VA News. “PACT Act benefits: claims received by August 9 will be eligible for 12 months of backdated compensation.” Retrieved from:https://news.va.gov/121448/pact-act-benefits-claims-backdated-compensation/. Accessed on August 10, 2023.