CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. — Preliminary data obtained from thousands of potential claimants reveals that over 85% of those seeking compensation for exposure to toxic water at Camp Lejeune would not qualify for the early resolution payouts offered by the government. This analysis, conducted by data management firm SimplyConvert, indicates that tens or even hundreds of thousands of claims may be disputed and end up in court. Moreover, the limited pool of eligible applicants suggests that many claimants may pass away before receiving any payout.
The data management firm compiled a database of more than 123,000 potential Camp Lejeune claimants, including those who have not yet filed with the government, based on information provided by over 220 law firms. While the firm did not disclose the raw data or the names of the firms or clients involved due to confidentiality concerns, it did conduct an analysis of the self-reported information. This analysis offers a glimpse into the potential claimants and the common illnesses associated with this case, which is expected to become one of the largest mass torts in history.
The Navy has already received at least 152,000 compensation claims on behalf of Camp Lejeune veterans, workers, and others who spent a minimum of one month at the base during the period of water contamination. Individuals whose claims are rejected or unresolved have the option to pursue legal action, and over 1,550 lawsuits have already been filed in the Eastern District of North Carolina.
To expedite compensation for sick or dying veterans, the Navy introduced the early resolution program, also known as the “elective option.” This program expedites payouts ranging from $100,000 to $550,000 to those who qualify based on their time spent at the base and their illness. However, confirmed diagnoses typically need to occur within 35 years after leaving Camp Lejeune.
While the Justice Department declined to comment on the data analysis, court filings show that the department has approved 52 early resolution offers and that 28 other claims currently in litigation appear to meet the criteria for an expedited payout. Additionally, $2.05 million has already been paid to settle eight claims.
The SimplyConvert analysis also revealed that 41.3% of potential claims in their database cite two or more diseases that could make them eligible for compensation. The most common illnesses identified include various forms of cancer, cardiac defects, and Parkinson’s disease. This aligns with a government-funded study conducted in spring 2023, which found higher-than-normal rates of Parkinson’s among Camp Lejeune veterans, leading the Department of Veterans Affairs to expand health coverage for such veterans.
Moving forward, the North Carolina court is expected to proceed with a few bellwether trials, which could help expedite broader settlement discussions. However, the timeline for these trials remains uncertain. One unresolved legal battle revolves around whether claimants will have the right to jury trials or if their cases will be decided by a judge. Government attorneys assert that Congress did not intend for jury trials when passing the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, while some claimants and their lawyers argue that this would deny them the chance to publicly share the impact of the contamination.
The government estimates that it may need to pay up to $21 billion in compensation for the hundreds of thousands of individuals affected by the toxic water at Camp Lejeune. Within a year of Congress approving the program, the compensation demands already filed exceeded $3 trillion. Ultimately, it is hoped that the data analysis conducted by SimplyConvert will assist in identifying cases suitable for settlement and those that may need to proceed through the court system.