Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022

Decades of water contamination at Camp Lejeune have led to tragic medical issues, and even death, for countless Marines and their families stationed at the North Carolina training base between 1953 and 1987. The United States government has recognized these effects, and though steps have been taken to alleviate the hardships these circumstances have brought to veterans, attempted amends have been inadequate. 

The Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 hopes to be a step toward proper compensation and relief, as this new bill would allow those affected by the Camp Lejeune contamination to file claims. With a Camp Lejeune water lawsuit, victims can recover damages from exposure to Camp Lejeune toxic water over the noted years.

What Is the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022?

The Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 (H.R. 2192) is a law that allows veterans and their family members, civilian workers, contractors and any other person who lived or worked at Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina, for at least thirty days between August 1st, 1953 and December 31st, 1987 to recover damages caused by exposure to toxic chemicals. If signed into law, the bill will finally provide compensation to victims for their injuries after decades of being denied such justice. Until then, however, no claims can be filed.

What Does This Mean for Veterans?

The Camp Lejeune Justice Act allows individuals serving in military status at the specified period of potential exposure to file a lawsuit. This is significant because, although the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) currently provides benefits (healthcare and compensation for out-of-pocket medical expenses) to eligible service members exposed during the relevant period, it doesn’t allow those affected parties to receive full and fair compensation for the consequences incurred by the exposure. In part, this was due to the Feres Doctrine (Feres v. the United States, 340 U.S. 135), which prohibits individuals from filing a lawsuit or lawsuit based on injuries during their service.

Moreover, existing laws do not cover non-military victims, but the Camp Lejeune Justice Act allows them to file claims. The new bill extends the statute of limitation in North Carolina, which legally forbade the filing of claims for injuries that happened more than ten years in the past. Because many Camp Lejeune victims were unaware of the long-term effects or cause of their medical issues for decades, this statute stopped them from filing in time to satisfy the state law. Fortunately, the Camp Lejeune Justice Act changes that.

How Did the Camp Lejeune Justice Act Come About?

In the past, several attempts have been made to rectify the incidents at Camp Lejeune to compensate the victims with health benefits and other financial support. From this, the Janey Ensminger Act came about, which enabled non-military family members to apply for VA benefits for health issues related to Camp Lejeune contamination, and the Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act, which grants some benefits to the victims who meet specific standards. The Camp Lejeune Justice Act takes these efforts even further.

What Is the Current Status of the Camp Lejeune Justice Act?

Procedural errors and amendments have slowed the progress of the Camp Lejeune Justice Act. In the latest sessions, the U.S. Senate unfortunately didn’t reach the sixty votes needed to pass it, despite the initial version (before it was slightly corrected for technical reasons in the House) of the bill passing eighty-four to fourteen.

Why Hasn’t the Senate Passed the Camp Lejeune Justice Act Yet?

The senators who stopped the bill from moving forward cited some concerns over mandatory spending as the benefits authorized in the bill are estimated to cost the government $282.7 billion over the next ten years.

The Next Steps to the Camp Lejeune Justice Act

The bipartisan support for the Camp Lejeune Justice Act remains strong despite the setback. The Senate will continue to discuss the bill, then reschedule the vote to end the discussion. If the next cloture is successful, then the Senate will likely pass the bill to be signed into law by the president. 

To support the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, contact your state senators. If you’re a victim of the Camp Lejeune contamination and would like to get started on filing a claim, or want to know more about the benefits you could receive, contact the qualified attorneys at Strom Law for help.

 

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