Major Update in the Camp Lejeune Toxic Water Contamination Litigation: the Elective Option

Morris James LLP
The Department of the Navy is offering an expedited resolution process for Camp Lejeune water contamination victims. While this may be a quicker way for injured victims to get compensation, it is not the best option for all claimants.

In the year since the introduction of the Camp Lejeune Justice Act 2022, more than 1,100 federal lawsuits and 93,000 administrative claims have been filed by veterans and their families, but not a single Camp Lejeune claim has been resolved. Unfortunately, the government has been slow or completely unresponsive when dealing with Camp Lejeune claims. A timeline of the Camp Lejeune water contamination litigation to date is available here.

The Elective Option is the first settlement option in the Camp Lejeune cases

On September 6, the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Department of Justice announced a new system to speed up resolution of Camp Lejeune claims, called the Elective Option. This is the first of any settlement options in the Camp Lejeune litigation, and may give some indication of what the government will consider to be a reasonable settlement offer. However, it does not tell us what a court will award as compensation if these cases go to trial. For some Camp Lejeune claimants, a quick and convenient settlement may be a good option, but for others, it may significantly undervalue the amount that they and their families should receive in compensation. The absolute maximum amount that is authorized in any individual settlement paid under the Elective Option is $550,000. It is important to consult with an attorney who is familiar with the Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuits before accepting any settlement offer.

How does the Elective Option work?

The Elective Option does not replace the existing administrative claims process or federal litigation. To avail of the Elective Option, a claimant must first file an administrative claim with the JAG’s Tort Claims Unit, as for any Camp Lejeune claim. 

The Elective Option offers claimants a settlement amount based on the illness that they have and how long they were exposed to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune. The illnesses covered are the specific medical conditions identified by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) as potentially linked to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, divided into two tiers:

Tier 1: These are diseases for which the ATSDR has substantiated evidence of causation:

  • Kidney cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Leukemia
  • Bladder cancer 

Camp Lejeune victims with these diseases are offered $150,000, for 30-364 days’ exposure, $300,000 for 1-5 years’ exposure, and $450,000 for over 5 years’ exposure to Camp Lejeune toxic water.

Tier 2: These are diseases for which the ATSDR has possible evidence of causation:

  • Multiple myeloma
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Kidney disease (end stage renal disease)
  • Systemic sclerosis/systemic scleroderma

These victims receive settlement offers of  $100,000 for 30-364 days’ exposure, $250,000 for 1-5 years’ exposure, or $400,000 for over 5 years’ exposure to Camp Lejeune water.

An additional $100,000 is offered in cases where the victim died as a result of their exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune.

What if I have already filed a Camp Lejeune claim?

If you have already filed a Camp Lejeune claim, you may receive a settlement offer under the Elective Option. Any cases that have already been filed will be screened by the Justice Department for eligibility and should receive a settlement offer in line with the amounts above. You should discuss this with your attorney before taking any action under the Elective Option. If you accept a settlement, you may lose your right to bring any other claim for compensation. 

If your illness is not listed in Tier 1 or 2 of the Elective Option, you will not be eligible at this time for an offer under the Elective Option. In those situations, your claim will continue and you should discuss the strength of your case and the next steps with your attorney.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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