On Aug. 10, 2022, President Biden signed the Camp Lejeune Justice Act (CLJA), which created a legal framework for victims of toxic water contamination at Camp Lejeune to pursue litigation against the federal government. Feb. 10, 2023, is a monumental date for service members and others affected by Camp Lejeune’s contaminated water because this was the first possible day that the CLJA’s provisions allowed for an impacted individual to file a civil suit.
Specifically, the CLJA requires those impacted to first file an administrative claim to start the process. The Act then requires a claimant to wait for a six-month period after filing the administrative claim before the claimant can file a civil action. This six-month period allows the Department of the Navy to review the claim and offer resolution through settlement offers. After six months, if the department has not offered a settlement or the claimant rejects a settlement offer, the claimant can then file a lawsuit in the Eastern District of North Carolina.
While national advertisements may mislead impacted claimants to believe they only need to sign up to receive a successful resolution, we expect litigation to play a crucial role in this action. In fact, many of these cases’ successes will hinge upon litigation. Our lawyers have worked tirelessly to protect clients’ rights by filing administrative claims on a rolling basis since the fall of 2022.
More than 20,000 administrative claims have been filed with the Department of the Navy, including many filed by our firm. Just five days after Feb. 10, the date when the first possible lawsuit could be filed, approximately 100 Camp Lejeune-related lawsuits were filed in the Eastern District of North Carolina – the court system set by statute to resolve all of these CLJA claims.
Details about the structure of the litigation continue unfolding, and we will keep our readers updated. For more information about the Camp Lejeune litigation, check out the webinar our legal team hosted earlier this month.