SEC. 804. FEDERAL CAUSE OF ACTION RELATING TO WATER AT CAMP LEJEUNE, NORTH CAROLINA
Below, IN BOLD AND ITALICS, you will find the entire text of the Camp lejeune Justice Act of 2022 with editors notes in italics. The provisions of the law are in bold and Italics. The Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 is a small part of a larger bill from the House of Representatives (H.R. 3967) entitled “Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act of 2022” or the “Honoring our PACT Act of 2022”. The purpose of the law is: “An Act to improve health care and benefits for veterans exposed to toxic substances, and for other purposes.”
The Eastern District of North Carolina’s website indicates: “The Eastern District of North Carolina has been designated as the exclusive jurisdiction and venue for cases filed pursuant to Section 804 of the Act, known as the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022. Cases arising under this section should be filed in the correct division as provided in Local Civil Rule 40.1. If a plaintiff does not reside within the Eastern District of North Carolina, the case should be filed in the Southern Division. The Cause of Action should be 804 (Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022) and the Nature of Suit should be 360 (P.I.: Other).”
804 (a) Short Title. —This section may be cited as the “Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022”.
Who can file a Camp Lejeune Claim for water contamination causing cancer, disease or harm?
804 (b) In General.—An individual, including a veteran (as defined in section 101 of title 38, United States Code), or the legal representative of such an individual, who resided, worked, or was otherwise exposed (including in utero exposure) for not less than 30 days during the period beginning on August 1, 1953, and ending on December 31, 1987, to water at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, that was supplied by, or on behalf of, the United States may bring an action in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina to obtain appropriate relief for harm that was caused by exposure to the water at Camp Lejeune.
(Editors notes: The CLJ does not state that the period of time at the base must be 30 consecutive days. It is interesting that all lawsuits must be filed in Federal Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina because it seems like this particular Federal Court lacks the resources and Judges to handle this onslaught of litigation. There could be well over 75,000 lawsuits filed as a result of the hazardous water at Camp Lejeune. There are only 4 judges in this District. The chief Judge is United States District Judge Richard E. Myers II. There are 5 United States Magistrate Judges. The Eastern District of North Carolina includes the Eastern Division, Northern Division, Western Division and Southern Division. The Court makes it very clear that if the victim / Plaintiff does not reside in the Eastern District of North Carolina then the victim must file a Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuit in the Southern Division. Also this section specifically does not limit the type of harm caused by the water. The statute says that a lawsuit can be pursued for harm caused by the water, meaning any harm. We all know that the presumptive diseases / conditions caused by Camp Lejeune toxic water are: Adult leukemia, Liver cancer, Bladder cancer, Aplastic anemia, Kidney cancer, Parkinson’s disease, Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Multiple myeloma.
How can victims prove that the Contaminated water at Camp Lejeune caused thier cancer, disease, harm or injury?
804 (c) Burdens And Standard Of Proof.—
(1) IN GENERAL. — The burden of proof shall be on the party filing the action to show one or more relationships between the water at Camp Lejeune and the harm.
(2) STANDARDS. — To meet the burden of proof described in paragraph (1), a party shall produce evidence showing that the relationship between exposure to the water at Camp Lejeune and the harm is—
(A) sufficient to conclude that a causal relationship exists; or
(B) sufficient to conclude that a causal relationship is at least as likely as not.
(Editor’s notes: In most civil litigation, a victim must prove that a causal connection between an injury to a reasonable degree of medical certainty. This law was set forth in Daubert. This usually involves bringing in high priced experts to testify. The Camp Lejeune Justice Act means that if an expert is needed to testify, the expert must only testify that causation is more likely than not or sufficient to conclude that a causal relationship exists)
Where can I file a Camp Lejeune water lawsuit?
804 (d) Exclusive Jurisdiction and Venue. — The United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina shall have exclusive jurisdiction over any action filed under subsection (b), and shall be the exclusive venue for such an action. Nothing in this subsection shall impair the right of any party to a trial by jury.
(A lot of information online seems to presume that lucrative settlements amounts will be offered to all victims and the victims will accept these amounts. Many victims will want their day in Court. Many victims will reject the Camp Lejeune settlement amounts offered by the United States. When you go in front of a jury, a victim is rolling the dice. The victim could end up with a huge multi-million dollar jury verdict or they could end up with a paltry small sum. There will be a significant risk in not accepting a settlement offer. Victims must be careful not just to accept a lawyer assigned by the call center. Camp Lejeune victims must retain a high-powered law firm with the resources and expertise to litigate a complicated water contamination lawsuit in Federal Court.)
804 (e) Exclusive Remedy. —
(1) IN GENERAL. — An individual, or legal representative of an individual, who brings an action under this section for a harm described in subsection (b), including a latent disease, may not thereafter bring a tort action against the United States for such harm pursuant to any other law.
(2) HEALTH AND DISABILITY BENEFITS RELATING TO WATER EXPOSURE. —Any award made to an individual, or legal representative of an individual, under this section shall be offset by the amount of any disability award, payment, or benefit provided to the individual, or legal representative—
(i) any program under the laws administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs;
(ii) the Medicare program under title XVIII of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1395 et seq.); or
(iii) the Medicaid program under title XIX of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1396 et seq.); and
(B) in connection with health care or a disability relating to exposure to the water at Camp Lejeune.
804 (f) Immunity Limitation. — The United States may not assert any claim to immunity in an action under this section that would otherwise be available under section 2680(a) of title 28, United States Code.
(Editor’s notes: Section 2680(a) states, “The provisions of this chapter and section 1346(b) of this title shall not apply to— Any claim based upon an act or omission of an employee of the Government, exercising due care, in the execution of a statute or regulation, whether or not such statute or regulation be valid, or based upon the exercise or performance or the failure to exercise or perform a discretionary function or duty on the part of a federal agency or an employee of the Government, whether or not the discretion involved be abused. “Section 2680(a)158—which is “commonly called the discretionary function exception”159—”preserves the federal government’s immunity . . . when an employee’s acts involve the exercise of judgment or choice.”160 Along with being one of the most frequently litigated exceptions to the FTCA’s waiver of sovereign immunity,161 the discretionary function exception is, according to at least one commentator, “the broadest and most consequential.”162 For example, the United States has successfully invoked the discretionary function exception to avoid tort liability in cases involving exposures to radiation, asbestos, Agent Orange, and the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).163” Every CRS Report
804 (g) No Punitive Damages. — Punitive damages may not be awarded in any action under this section.
804 (h) Disposition By Federal Agency Required. — An individual may not bring an action under this section before complying with section 2675 of title 28, United States Code.
(editor’s notes: Section 2675(a) states “An action shall not be instituted upon a claim against the United States for money damages for injury or loss of property or personal injury or death caused by the negligent or wrongful act or omission of any employee of the Government while acting within the scope of his office or employment, unless the claimant shall have first presented the claim to the appropriateFederal agency and his claim shall have been finally denied by the agency in writing and sent by certified or registered mail. The failure of an agency to make final disposition of a claim within six months after it is filed shall, at the option of the claimant any time thereafter, be deemed a final denial of the claim for purposes of this section. The provisions of this subsection shall not apply to such claims as may be asserted under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure by third party complaint, cross-claim, or counterclaim.”
804 (i) Exception For Combatant Activities. — This section does not apply to any claim or action arising out of the combatant activities of the Armed Forces.
804 (j) Applicability; Period For Filing. —
(1) APPLICABILITY. — This section shall apply only to a claim accruing before the date of enactment of this Act.
(2) STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS. — A claim in an action under this section may not be commenced after the later of—
(A) the date that is two years after the date of enactment of this Act; or
(B) the date that is 180 days after the date on which the claim is denied under section 2675 of title 28, United States Code.
(3) INAPPLICABILITY OF OTHER LIMITATIONS. — Any applicable statute of repose or statute of limitations, other than under paragraph (2), shall not apply to a claim under this section.
(Editor’s notes: 28 U.S. Code § 2675 – Disposition by federal agency as prerequisite; evidence states “(a)…. The failure of an agency to make final disposition of a claim within six months after it is filed shall, at the option of the claimant any time thereafter, be deemed a final denial of the claim for purposes of this section. The provisions of this subsection shall not apply to such claims as may be asserted under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure by third party complaint, cross-claim, or counterclaim.”