Camp Lejeune lawsuits have flooded a federal court in North Carolina as more claims pass the six-month administrative threshold. More than 900 Camp Lejeune water contamination claims have been filed in court since the passing of the Honoring our PACT Act in August 2022. The PACT Act paved the way for individuals to file lawsuits against the U.S. government for injuries allegedly caused by the toxic water at the Camp Lejeune military base in North Carolina from 1953 to 1987.
Although attorneys expected most Camp Lejeune claims would be resolved through the administrative process, the U.S. Department of Justice has not reached a settlement in any case, resulting in a significant increase in the number of claims filed in federal court.
The PACT Act Opened the Door for Camp Lejeune Lawsuits in Federal Court
Previously, the North Carolina statute of repose blocked individuals impacted by the polluted water at Camp Lejeune from filing lawsuits against the government. As frustrations mounted surrounding the limited assistance for veterans harmed by toxic exposure during service, Congress introduced the Honoring our Pact Act to expand healthcare and benefits for veterans with service-connected disabilities.
Included in the PACT Act was the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022, which allowed individuals to bring claims against the government for injuries related to water contamination at the military base.
Camp Lejeune Administrative Claims Pile Up
Before individuals can file their Camp Lejeune lawsuit in federal court, the case must first undergo an administrative claims process. After submitting their claim to the Office of the Judge Advocate General of the Navy’s Tort Claims Unit in Norfolk, Virginia, the government has six months to decide whether it will accept liability and resolve the claim by offering compensation. After the six-month administrative waiting period expires, individuals are free to file Camp Lejeune lawsuits in federal court.
Although more than 45,000 administrative claims have been filed, the government has yet to address any within the six-month timeframe outlined in the Camp Lejeune Justice Act.
More Than 900 Camp Lejeune Lawsuits in Federal Court
Camp Lejeune lawsuits have inundated the federal court system. As administrative claims go unanswered, cases are overrunning North Carolina federal court. February saw more than 100 Camp Lejeune lawsuits in federal court, while lawsuits skyrocketed to over 200 only a month later in March.
As of May 2023, there were a staggering 900 Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuits in federal court. With an estimated 1 million people having been exposed to the toxic water at the military base, attorneys speculate the court may encounter thousands of Camp Lejeune lawsuits.
The rapidly accumulating Camp Lejeune cases have forced the four judges in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina to grapple with three times the typical number of civil cases since the start of the year, according to Court Clerk Peter Moore Jr. To accommodate the number of Camp Lejeune lawsuits in federal court, it was given additional funding to hire more staff.
Meanwhile, U.S. Justice Department attorneys have requested extra time to respond to the claims. However, U.S. District Judge Terrence Boyle noted, “After eight months of nonactivity in each and every one of these claims, it’s not readily apparent that the government needs additional time.”