Did you spend time at United States Marine Corps (USMC) Base at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, prior to 1985, and do you now suffer from multiple myeloma? Did a family member spend time at Camp Lejeune and later die from multiple myeloma? If you answered “yes” to either of these questions, you may be entitled to compensation from the U.S. government.
Experts now believe that from the time Camp Lejeune was opened in 1941 until well into the 1980s, residents and employees at the camp were exposed to potentially toxic levels of contaminants that were present in the camp’s drinking water. As a result, residents, employees, and family members who were exposed to the drinking water at Camp Lejeune have disproportionately suffered from serious, even fatal, health conditions, including multiple myeloma.
In fact, multiple myeloma is among the “presumptive health conditions” linked to Camp Lejeune’s contaminated drinking water. That means that if you have been diagnosed with multiple myeloma or you are the surviving family member of someone who died of multiple myeloma, you may be entitled to compensation from the U.S. Government. The Camp Lejeune multiple myeloma lawsuit attorneys at Boyers Law Group are here to help you navigate the claims process and maximize your monetary recovery to help you heal from the physical and emotional damage caused by exposure to contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune.
What Is Multiple Myeloma?
Multiple myeloma is a cancer that forms in plasma cells, a type of white blood. Your body relies on healthy plasma cells to make antibodies that, in turn, help you fight infections by attacking harmful germs. If plasma cells become infected with cancer and accumulate in your bone marrow, they can overtake your healthy blood cells. Instead of producing the antibiotics your body needs to fight infections, your cells begin producing abnormal proteins that are harmful to you. This condition is referred to as “multiple myeloma.”
What Is the Relationship Between Camp Lejeune and Multiple Myeloma?
Opened in 1941, Camp Lejeune is home to expeditionary forces in readiness and serves as a warfighting platform from which Marines and Sailors train, operate, launch, and recover. The base camp also provides facilities, services, and support for troops and their families. For decades after the base opened, Armed Services personnel, civilian employees, and family members who spent time at Camp Lejeune suspected that something at the camp was causing them to suffer high levels of serious illnesses and deaths. Although the U.S. government repeatedly claimed otherwise, it was eventually confirmed that the high frequency of illness and death associated with the camp was linked to contaminated drinking water supplied by the Hadnot Point and the Tarawa Terrace treatment plants.
What Contaminants Were in Camp Lejeune Drinking Water?
Long after the alarm was raised about the possibility of contaminants in the drinking water at Camp Lejeune, the government continued to assert that the water met safe drinking water standards. It took an outside contractor, hired in 1982, to finally confirm the presence of harmful substances in the drinking water. Shockingly, the Initial Assessment Study (IAS) conducted by the outside contractor identified cancer-causing solvents, fuel, transformer oil, pesticides, and explosives in 22 of the 76 sites inspected. Further testing took place between 1982 and 1985, showing extremely high levels of trichloroethylene (TCE) and tetrachloroethylene (PCE), as well as the presence of vinyl chloride and benzene.
What Should I Know about the Contaminants Found in Camp Lejeune Drinking Water?
TCE, vinyl chloride, and benzene are known human carcinogens, while PCE is classified as a “likely” or “probable” human carcinogen. Unfortunately, it would take almost three decades more to determine the extent of the harm these substances may have caused to the people living and working at Camp Lejeune.
The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 directed the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) to develop and send a health survey to all persons who could be identified as potentially being exposed to contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune. That survey, conducted in 2011-2012, collected information on cancers and other diseases of interest as well as asked about lifestyle and demographic factors to create a morbidity study comparing Marines and civilians who worked or lived at Camp Lejeune and Camp Pendleton during the same time period.
The morbidity study concluded that contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune was associated with increased risk in both Marines and civilian employees for several types of cancers and other serious illnesses. For Camp Lejeune civilian employees, the odds ratio of exposure to water contaminated with TCE or PCE was almost double that of their Camp Pendleton civilian counterparts. Furthermore, the ATSDR concluded that evidence exists to support an association between contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune and at least 16 diseases, including multiple myeloma.
What Did the ATSDR Study Conclude about Contaminated Drinking Water and Multiple Myeloma?
A summary of the ATSDR study results found the following correlation between drinking water at Camp Lejeune that was contaminated with TCE, PCE, vinyl chloride, and/or benzene and multiple myeloma:
- Risks associated with exposure to TCE: Elevated risks for multiple myeloma mortality, particularly with cumulative exposure and for exposure durations of 1-3 and 4-12 months. TCE has been associated with the autoimmune disease systemic sclerosis. Autoimmune disorders, in turn, are associated with multiple myeloma. ATSDR concluded that there is equipoise and above evidence for causation for TCE and multiple myeloma.
- Risks associated with exposure to PCE. ATSDR concluded that the epidemiological evidence is mixed and inadequate to determine whether a causal association exists between PCE and multiple myeloma. As such, there is below equipoise evidence for causation for PCE and multiple myeloma.
- Risks associated with exposure to Benzene. Based on the results of the meta-analyses and a study of Norwegian offshore oil industry workers, there is equipoise and above evidence for causation for benzene and multiple myeloma.
What Must I Prove to Successfully File a Camp Lejeune Claim?
In August of 2022, the Camp Lejeune Justice Act (CLJA) was signed into law, outlining the legal and procedural steps required to file a Camp Lejeune claim. Multiple myeloma is on the list of “presumptive injuries” found in the CLJA. To pursue a Camp Lejeune claim for multiple myeloma, you must meet both of the following criteria:
- You or your loved one served, lived, worked, or were in utero at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987, AND
- You or your loved one was subsequently diagnosed with bladder cancer or a related condition.
What Are the Steps Involved in Filing a Camp Lejeune Multiple Myeloma Claim?
Camp Lejeune multiple myeloma claims are filed with the Office of the Judge Advocate General (JAG) of the Navy’s Tort Claims Unit (TCU). Claimants must file a claim form within the two-year statute of limitations time frame to establish a right to pursue compensation. If you fail to file within the two-year statute of limitations, you give up your right to pursue compensation. Moreover, the initial claim form determines the type and extent of compensation to which you may be entitled. Working with an experienced Camp Lejeune multiple myeloma lawsuit attorney when filing your initial claim form is the best way to make sure your rights are protected, and mistakes are not made.
How Much Is My Camp Lejeune Multiple Myeloma Lawsuit Worth?
The amount of compensation you receive will depend on many factors; however, you may be entitled to both economic and non-economic damages, including compensation for:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Lost income and diminished earning capacity
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental anguish, depression, anxiety, stress
Can I File a Camp Lejeune Multiple Myeloma Claim If I Previously Filed a Federal Tort Claim or Received Compensation from the Government?
Because it took decades to enact legislation specifically addressing Camp Lejeune claims, many victims filed claims under the Federal Tort Claims Act. If you are among them, you are entitled to re-file a claim under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act (CLJA). Moreover, you may still be entitled to compensation in a Camp Lejeune lawsuit if you previously received benefits or monetary compensation from the Veterans Administration (VA), Social Security disability, or another government agency based on your multiple myeloma. The amount of compensation you receive, however, may be offset by any monetary compensation previously paid to you by the U.S. government.
Contact Experienced Camp Lejeune Multiple Myeloma Lawsuit Attorney at Boyers Law Group
If you were diagnosed with multiple myeloma, or you lost a family member to multiple myeloma, and you (or your family member) spent time at Camp Lejeune, an experienced multiple myeloma lawsuit attorney at Boyers Law Group can help you pursue compensation to which you are entitled.
We understand the suffering caused by the contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune, and we are dedicated to aggressively advocating on your behalf. Contact us today for your free initial consultation by calling 305-512-7600 or by filling out our online contact form.