In June 2023, Drugwatch reported on a study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) about the contaminated water at the Marine Corps base over many decades.
JAMA also published a study in May that examined the data from the Veterans Health Administration and Medicare, which involved over 172,000 individuals who resided at Camp Lejeune between 1972 and 1985. The data was compared to approximately 170,000 individuals located at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton in California during the same time.
Based on the data, nearly 279 individuals from Camp Lejeune were either diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease or exhibited similar symptoms, in comparison to 151 individuals at Camp Pendleton. The data indicated that Camp Lejeune veterans had a 70% higher susceptibility to progressive neurological disorders. The researchers at JAMA emphasized that this discovery could have a significant impact on others.
The study revealed that in addition to the research conducted on the exposed service members, several civilian workers and family members have also been affected by the contaminated water in this area. Therefore, besides Parkinson’s disease, it has also led to the development of cancers and various other health consequences.
Why Does Camp Lejeune Contaminated Water Cause Parkinson’s Disease?
In May 2023, CNN.com reported that Dr. Ray Dorsey, a neurology professor at the University of Rochester, stated that trichloroethylene (TCE) is linked to Parkinson’s disease in urban and suburban areas of the United States.
TCE is an organic, volatile, and colorless compound widely used in the industry as a degreaser and cleaning agent, particularly for metals. It is also utilized in the manufacturing of certain refrigerants and can be found in coatings, paints, sealants, and a few automotive products such as brake cleaners.
In January, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a revised version of the Toxic Substances Control Act risk determination for TCE, claiming that it poses a severe risk to human health. TCE contamination primarily occurs through groundwater, affecting individuals who consume it. Additionally, there are several cases where people got exposed to the compound by simply breathing it in.
Aside from increasing the risk of cancer, TCE exposure due to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune can lead to liver damage. The EPA further asserts that it causes damage to the brain and nervous system.
Victims who were unaware of the presence of dangerous compounds like benzene, trichloroethylene, and perchloroethylene in the water at Camp Lejeune and have suffered harm can seek compensation by filing a legal complaint.
Camp Lejeune Justice Act: Finding a Legal Solution
In November 2022, Jurist reported that President Joe Biden took a significant step towards providing a legal remedy for veterans affected by the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune. He signed the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022, an essential part of the comprehensive Honoring Our Pact Act of 2022. This legislation aims to assist over 3.5 million veterans who were exposed to various hazards during their military service.
According to the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, any person affected by the polluted water at the North Carolina Marine Corps base for more than four decades can file a lawsuit. Furthermore, the bill grants access to disability and healthcare benefits for veterans impacted by toxic materials, whether at Camp Lejeune or any other location worldwide.
According to TorHoerman Law, a Camp Lejeune lawsuit can cover injuries such as lung, bladder, breast, and cervical cancer. Additionally, victims can file a lawsuit for other conditions, including multiple myeloma, ALS, and Hodgkin Lymphoma. Before filing a legal complaint, individuals are advised to gather all relevant medical records as evidence. They may be required to sign a HIPAA release or similar documentation, allowing the legal team to utilize their medical records in support of their claim.
Lawsuit Filed Under Camp Lejeune Justice Act
In March 2023, The Daily News reported on a South Carolina law firm initiating the first official lawsuit under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act. The lawsuit has been filed at the administrative office of the Department of the Navy for JAG Corps.
The firm’s Class Action and Mass Torts Division Director, Paul Doolittle, stated that if JAG Corps doesn’t respond after 6 months, one can file a lawsuit. The first case was of Mr. Williams, whose father was a Navy Chief Petty Officer. As a teenager, Williams lived at Camp Lejeune from 1966 to 1968 and got diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
Another case filed by the firm involves Mr. Jenkins, a veteran who served in the Marine Corps and was located at Camp Lejeune. Jenkins is presently battling brain cancer, diagnosed in 2014, and was further diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2015.
Up to February 16th, 105 lawsuits were filed under Camp Lejeune Justice Act. JAG Corps also received nearly 20,000 administrative claims so far. Furthermore, Doolittle has expressed confidence in the competence of the assigned judge to manage the cases.
In their ongoing pursuit of justice for Parkinson’s disease and other health issues linked to Camp Lejeune, veterans remain steadfast. With the recent filing of lawsuits under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, the fight for compensation and accountability gains momentum. As legal proceedings unfold and administrative claims surge, hope remains high for a resolution that might bring solace to those affected.