WASHINGTON (WECT) – The Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 is part of the larger “PACT Act” and, if signed into law, would allow families impacted by water contamination at the military base to sue the government for damages.
The bill has already passed each chamber of Congress, but must go through the senate once more for approval before reaching President Joe Biden’s desk.
Once that happens, families who lived or worked at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days between August 1, 1953 and December 31, 1987 and later suffered an illness linked to the contamination will be able to file suit.
“When you have these kinds of claims that go on for decades, the client’s expectations of a timely conclusion are very low,” said Bob Whitley, an attorney representing several of the affected families.
Whitley says his team is working with medical professionals and record-retrieving companies so the process can move quickly once the law is signed.
“Once this does start and after the administrative forms are filed, then a filing has got to take place in the federal district court of eastern North Carolina,” said Whitley. “And I think North Carolina lawyers are going to be in a better position to get those claims timely filed to monitor them, and for the most part to be able to hold the hands of our clients.”
Lawyers believe the government needs to be held accountable for knowingly putting chemicals in the water that lead to widespread illness among those on base.
“They’re atrocious,” Whitley said about the health impacts faced by thousands. “I mean, they’re not just little breathing problems. It’s cancer of various types. It’s birth defects, neurological disorders; what they were doing is they were just putting toxins into the soil and the water down there for years and years.”
While the Senate waits to approve the bill once again, those waiting are optimistic it will be signed into law soon.
“It is devastating, and they feel a little bit hopeless,” said Whitley. “But I think relief is on the way for them. Of course, you know, somebody that’s died, you know, money can’t ever replace or fairly compensate a family, but hopefully the money can be used to benefit those that were harmed.”
To view the latest version of the bill, click here.
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