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Camp Lejeune Lawsuit: Will Major Fights Shape the Litigation in 2024

4 min read

The story of North Carolina’s Camp Lejeune has been a sad one indeed. When the US Marine Corps was established in 1942, no one was prepared for the worst water contamination crisis in US history.

By 1982, it was discovered that three water tanks across the Base – Hadnot Point, Holcomb Boulevard, and Tarawa Terrace – were polluted with Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). That was shocking news for its one million residents.

What’s even worse is that everyone stationed at Camp Lejeune had consumed the contaminated water since 1953, and the three tanks were shut down only in 1985. What followed was a series of unfortunate events (one after another) from the health and legal viewpoints.

In this article, we will discuss both aspects, essentially focusing on the Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuit. Keep reading to understand if and how major fights will shape the litigation this year.

The Victims’ Agonizing Struggle So Far

Soon after the three contaminated tanks were closed, Camp Lejeune’s residents started experiencing symptoms of life-threatening illnesses. According to TorHoerman Law, victims developed conditions like female infertility, different types of cancer (lung, blood, bladder, etc.), hepatic steatosis, Parkinson’s disease, and more.

In 2012, the Obama administration offered free medical care to all veterans and civilian residents of the Camp. Still, no provision for compensation was available at the time. Decades later, President Joe Biden officially allowed Camp Lejeune’s victims legal justice through the Camp Lejeune Justice Act (CLJA) of August 2022.

In other words, veterans and other residents could file a Camp Lejeune lawsuit that followed an administration claim. The lawsuit could only be filed if the claim remained unresolved for six months. The statute of limitations or filing window would stay open till August 2024.

Thousands of claims were filed as the months proceeded from the passing of CLJA. However, the Navy Judge Advocate General (JAG) moved with a snail’s pace, citing excuses like staffing and funding shortages for delayed claim resolution.


The plaintiff’s counsel was convinced that the government was trying everything in its power to avoid paying fair payouts. Then, an early settlement program or elective option was introduced to speed up the compensation process.

Sadly, this program was found to be unjust for most of Camp Lejeune’s victims who had suffered life-altering (even multiple) health conditions. Bloomberg even published a report on how 85% of the claimants would not even qualify for the early settlement option.

This was again seen as a move to delay claim resolutions. By this time, thousands of administrative claims had turned into Federal lawsuits.

The Docket Management Approach and Government Pushback

Understanding the sad reality that many plaintiffs did not have enough time on their hands for a long legal battle, the plaintiff attorneys took a docket management approach. This means they requested the court to consolidate 16 Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuits based on the disease type.

This was done in hopes of speeding up the trial process. In just five trials, all cases under Track 1 could be resolved, including leukemia, Parkinson’s disease, kidney cancer, NHL (non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma), and bladder cancer.

Since the consolidated cases would garner increased media attention and major verdicts, it was expected that the government would push back hard (and it did). The Navy opposed the plaintiff’s counsel on its views regarding specific causation and the logic behind multi-plaintiff trials.

Interestingly, the government’s attorneys also argued that the plaintiff fee issue was further delaying settlements. The plaintiff’s side made a compelling counter-argument that it was just aiming at the big picture (trying to expedite individual trials and securing a global settlement).


It was hyper-focused on getting the litigation where it needed to be (given the long timeline).

The Government’s Objections to Trial

Besides the pushback, the Department of Justice (DOJ) proposed a deadline extension for the factual discovery process of cases under Track 1 (by an extra 90 days). It stated that additional time was needed due to the extensive nature of electronic data requests. Since then, the plaintiff’s counsel has retracted such requests.

This was an attempt to push the litigation forward and achieve more reasonable and global settlement offers. Meanwhile, a North Carolina judge stated that the court would be open for Camp Lejeune litigation trials as early as April 2024. The judge also admitted to being open for back-to-back trials.

As expected, the government is still pushing for further delays. It expressed that more time was needed to respond to the plaintiff’s counsel’s summary judgment. By this time, over 200,000 administrative claims and 1,400 lawsuits had been filed.

The court granted the government time till February 19th for a response to the plaintiff’s counsel’s summary judgment. However, the defendant started objecting to the concept of a jury trial altogether. It stated that the CLJA does not allow Camp Lejeune’s victims to have a trial (to which the plaintiff’s attorneys made a counter-objection).

At the current rate, it is clear that Camp Lejeune litigation’s plaintiffs will not have smooth sailing to justice. The road ahead is marked by major fights between both parties. As of now, the court has issued an order for the deadline and steps involved in the Track 1 discovery pool.

This process will include the discovery phase, the motions before trial, the planning for settlements, and trial specifics or details. Both sides are concentrating on gathering evidence, analyzing expert witnesses, and making other arrangements for trials and settlements.