The Department of the Navy Has Failed To Pay A Single Camp Lejeune Justice Act Claim Administratively
Organizing plaintiffs into groups of one hundred or more based on their type of cancer would be a good start to speeding up Camp Lejeune water contamination trials
Tuesday, June 6, 2023 - Judges in the Eastern District of North Carolina are inundated with thousands of Camp Lejeune water lawsuits as a result of the Department of the Navy failing to settle a single Camp Lejeune Justice Act claims administratively. It has been more than six months since August of 2022 when The Act was signed into law. The Act allows millions of US Marines and civilian employees that passed through, lived or were stationed at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days from 1953 to 1987, the right to file a lawsuit should the Navy fail to pay the amount of their claim immediately and administratively. According to WUNC.org, "More than 65,000 people already have filed claims with the Navy, with many more expected. The Navy has a few months (6) to resolve each case before the applicant can file suit." Under the provisions of The Act, each lawsuit must be filed in the Eastern District of North Carolina where one of only four judges will be available to hear each case. The sheer number of potential lawsuits frighten the judges into thinking that it would take almost 2000 years to hear each case making it impractical to do anything other than seek a settlement, which would probably be inadequate at best.
One of the judges told the local news that the only way to handle tens of thousands of potential cases is to establish a "Rocket Docket" to ensure each plaintiff gets their constitutionally guaranteed day in court and a speedy trial. He also insisted that The Department of the Navy handling the claims immediately begin to handle them administratively before forcing going to court. "Outside the courthouse afterward, plaintiffs' attorney Mikal Watts of San Antonio said the judge's message was clear. "It's going to be a rocket docket," he said, "which is what it needs to do, because our clients, because the exposure was so long ago, are up there in age." A rocket docket would entail grouping cases into hundreds of plaintiffs with similar times spent at Camp Lejeune and similar injuries into one of several cases. Theoretically, one hundred or more plaintiffs that spent a similar amount of time at Camp Lejeune and suffered the same type of cancer could make up a single lawsuit.
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act establishes that a dozen or more specific types of cancer were caused by drinking ordinary tap water from Camp Lejeune. the VA's current list of presumptive service connection conditions is Adult leukemia, Aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes, Bladder cancer, Kidney cancer, Liver cancer, Multiple myeloma, Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, Parkinson's disease. Plaintiffs could also be grouped by age range. Despite being pressured to handle claims administratively, The Department of The Navy is establishing a computer database to organize the claims, a process which could take many months to iron out during which time thousands of Camp Lejeune cancer victims will die.