The Justice Department and the Department of the Navy have announced that they are in the process of finalizing the "Elective Option." This Elective Option will be another means by which folks can settle their Camp Lejeune Justice Act claim. Although the Elective Option may not result is the highest settlement offer, this particular option is designed to be the one of the faster options for obtaining a settlement offer.
Background on the Camp Lejeune Justice Act
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act is a part of the Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act, or the "Honoring Our PACT Act." This was signed into law on August 10, 2022. The Honoring our PACT Act allows folks to file claims and seek recovery and damages for injuries they’ve suffered as a result of exposure to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune. The Act specifically allows folks who were at Camp Lejeune at least 30 days at some point from August 1, 1953 through December 31, 1987 to pursue damages.
What is the Elective Option under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act (CLJA)?
The Elective Option is a process that has been jointly developed by the Justice Department and the Department of the Navy. The Elective Option provides a framework for the Department of the Navy to resolve certain Camp Lejeune Justice Act (CLJA) claims more quickly and efficiently. Additionally, this particular process is very transparent, as opposed to filing a lawsuit and waiting for resolution.
Just as with the administrative process and filing a lawsuit with the Eastern District of North Carolina, a claimant must begin the process by filing an administrative claim form to the Department of the Navy. As of September 2023, more than 93,000 Camp Lejeune Justice Act (CLJA) claims have been filed with the Department of the Navy.
What is the Purpose of the Elective Option Under the CLJA?
The Elective Option will speed up the resolution of some claims by allowing the Department of the Navy to focus the review of a CLJA claim on a few criteria. Namely, the Department of the Navy will focus on the type of injury, illness, or condition a person is suffering from as well as the amount of time the claimant worked or lived at Camp Lejeune.
By narrowing the focus to a few critical factors, the Department of the Navy can validate and settle claims faster for those who are interested in the Elective Option.
Who Qualifies for the Elective Option under the Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawsuit?
The Department of the Navy will apparently be making settlement offers to those claimants who have a disease, illness, or condition that the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) has linked to the contaminants found in the water at Camp Lejeune. Those conditions have been classified as Tier 1 conditions and Tier 2 conditions, depending on how strong the link is between the condition and the contaminants and chemicals found in the water supply at Camp Lejeune.
Qualifying Tier 1 Conditions
Tier 1 conditions are those conditions the Agency has established the strongest evidence of causation. These are the conditions with the strongest link to the contaminants in the water at Camp Lejeune. The Tier 1 conditions under the Elective Option include:
- Kidney Cancer
- Liver Cancer
- Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
- Bladder Cancer
Qualifying Tier 2 Conditions
Tier 2 conditions are those conditions that the Agency has established possible evidence of causation, and these Tier 2 conditions include the following:
- Multiple Myeloma
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Kidney Disease
- End-Stage Renal Disease
- Systemic Sclerosis
- Systemic Scleroderma
Time Spent Working or Living at Camp Lejeune
To participate in the Elective Option, a claimant must have one of the above-mentioned conditions (Tier 1 or Tier 2), and the claimant must have spent at least 30 days working or living at Camp Lejeune between August 1, 1953 and December 31, 1987.
What Are the Settlement Amounts for a Camp Lejeune Claim Under the Elective Option?
Under the Elective Option, settlement amounts will be tiered, based upon (1) the type of condition, illness, or disease and (2) the amount of time a person spent at Camp Lejeune.
Settlement Amounts for Tier 1 Conditions
Claimants with conditions, diseases, or illnesses for which the ATSDR has found the strongest evidence of causation, including kidney cancer, liver cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, leukemia, and bladder cancer, would receive varying settlement offers based upon how much time they spent at Camp Lejeune. The proposed settlement offers are as follows:
- Over 5 Years: $450,000
- 1 to 5 Years: $300,000
- 30 to 364 Days: $150,000
Claims involving death or wrongful death would receive an additional $100,000 added on to the above dollar amounts.
Settlement Amounts for Tier 2 Conditions
Claimants with conditions, diseases, or illnesses that the ATSDR has established possible evidence of causation, including multiple myeloma, Parkinson’s disease, kidney disease, end-stage renal disease, systemic sclerosis, and systemic scleroderma, would receive varying settlement offers based upon how much time they spent at Camp Lejeune, just as with Tier 1 conditions above. The proposed settlement amounts are as follows:
- Over 5 Years: $400,000
- 1 to 5 Years: $250,000
- 30 to 364 Days: $100,000
As with Tier 1 conditions, claims for Tier 2 conditions that involve death or wrongful death would receive an additional $100,000 added on to the above dollar amounts.
How Does the Elective Option Impact VA Disability Benefits or VA Medical Care?
Any payment a claimant receives under the Elective Option will not be offset by past Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) disability benefits or VA medical care. Additionally, the Department of the Navy has said that a payment under the Elective Option will not reduce a claimants ongoing VA disability benefits, nor will it affect their eligibility for medical care.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1: What is the Camp Lejeune Justice Act?
A1: The Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act of 2022 was officially signed into law by President Biden on August 10th, 2022. Embedded within this act, under Section 804, lies the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 (CLJA).
This legislation provides an avenue for individuals, including veterans, who were previously exposed to contaminated water while at Camp Lejeune, to file a claim for damages with the Department of the Navy. If a claim is denied or if no decision is reached within six months of filing, individuals may seek recourse in Federal court.
Q2: Who Qualifies to File a CLJA Claim?
A2: There are two main qualifications for the Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuit: (1) That you worked, lived, or were otherwise exposed to the contaminated water supply at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days (not consecutive / in aggregate) between August 1, 1953 and December 31, 1987; and (2) You have a condition, illness, or disease that has been linked to the contaminants found in the water supply at Camp Lejeune.
Q3: How do I Pursue Compensation and File a Camp Lejeune Justice Act Claim?
A3: To get the process started, you must submit a claim form. If you would like more information on this topic, please don't hesitate to reach out to us at (321) 352-7588. We will help you however we can.
Q4: How Long Does it Take to Process a Camp Lejeune Justice Act Claim?
A4: Claims have not been getting reviewed in the six (6) month timeframe originally provided in the Camp Lejeune Justice Act. The Act allows claimants to pursue a lawsuit in the Federal court if their claim is not resolved within six (6) months of filing the administrative claim form.
Q5: How Much Money May a Claimant Receive Under the Elective Option?
A5: Under the Elective Option, claimants may receive $100,000 to $550,000 to resolve an administrative claim filed under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, depending on the condition or illness at issue and the amount of time the person spent at Camp Lejeune. Thus, the specific condition and the duration of exposure to the contaminants found in the water at Camp Lejeune will determine the amount of money offered under the Elective Option.
Q6: What are the Conditions or Illnesses Included in the Elective Option?
A6: The qualifying conditions under the Elective Option include the following: Kidney Cancer, Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Leukemia, Bladder Cancer, Multiple Myeloma, Liver Cancer, Parkinson’s Disease, Kidney Disease, and Systemic Sclerosis or Scleroderma.
Q7: How Will a Payment under the Elective Option Impact VA Benefits?
A7: As of September 2023, payments made under the Elective Option will not be offset by past Department of Veterans Affairs benefits, nor will such payments reduce ongoing VA benefits or eligibility for medical care.
Q8: What if My Claim Under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act is Denied?
A8: If a CLJA claim is denied or if a claimant does not receive a decision within six (6) months of filing the administrative claim, a claimant may file a lawsuit in Federal court.
Q9: Does a Claimant Have to File a Lawsuit in Federal Court, or Can a Claimant Wait for a Claim to Be Reviewed?
A9: Claimants are not required to pursue a lawsuit in Federal court. Claimants can wait until the Department of the Navy reviews the claim and may decide whether to pursue a lawsuit in Federal court thereafter.
Q10: If I Filed a Claim with the Department of Veterans Affairs, Do I Still Need to File a Claim with the Department of the Navy?
A10: Claims filed with the VA are different from claims filed under the CLJA. Thus, if you think you qualify for a CLJA claim, you need to file an administrative claim with the Department of the Navy.