Our attorneys represent Camp Lejeune myelodysplastic syndromes lawsuit cases and settlement claims across the United States. If you were exposed to contaminated drinking water at U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina and were later diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS), don’t hesitate to contact our law firm.
Victims of the marine base’s toxic water supply have been waiting for closure for decades. Thanks to a new federal law called the Camp Lejeune Justice Act (CLJA), exposure victims of Camp Lejeune contaminated water can finally seek financial reparations from the United States government. You and many others suffering from MDS may now qualify to bring a Camp Lejeune myelodysplastic syndromes lawsuit.
Myelodysplastic syndromes are a group of diseases that prevent blood stem cells from developing into healthy blood cells. In years past, myelodysplastic syndromes were known as pre-leukemia or “smoldering leukemia.”
For a free consultation about your case, contact a Camp Lejeune myelodysplastic syndromes lawyer at Marc Whitehead & Associates. Our attorneys will give you honest, thorough, and reliable answers to your questions. If you choose us as your legal team, we will fight for your due compensation with all our might to receive the total damages you deserve.
Did Water Contamination at Camp Lejeune Cause MDS?
For over 30 years, from the 1950s through the 1980s, unsuspecting service members, their families, and civilians living and working at the base were exposed to contaminated drinking water. These people drank, cooked, and bathed in the water.
Military officials long knew the dangers with Camp Lejeune water, yet there were no mass health warnings. Now we know that the water at Camp Lejeune was polluted for decades by a group of toxic chemicals knowns as volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Saturation reached far above the acceptable safety levels. The sources of the contaminants included an off-base dry cleaner, leaky storage tanks, and chemical dumping.
The four primary toxic chemicals were:
- Trichloroethylene (TCE) – a manmade solvent used as a degreaser for metal parts. It is a known carcinogen based on scientific evidence.
- Tetrachloroethylene, a.k.a. perchloroethylene (PCE or PERC) – a solvent used for dry cleaning and metal degreasing. Categorized as likely to be a human carcinogen.
- Benzene – a solvent used to make industrial chemicals and is a component in fuel. Benzene is known to cause harmful effects on the blood marrow and can cause a decrease in red blood cells, leading to anemia and other blood defects. The CDC classifies benzene as a known carcinogen, where long-term exposure can cause cancer of the blood-forming organs. The EPA classifies benzene as a known human carcinogen for all routes of exposure.
- Vinyl chloride – an industrial chemical used to produce polyvinyl (PVC) plastic. Exposure is associated with an increased risk of brain and lung cancers, lymphoma, and leukemia, as well as a rare form of liver cancer.
These four VOCs have been linked to higher cancer rates and other health effects for anyone sufficiently exposed occupationally or environmentally.
A 2017 population-based study published in PubMed Central explains that about 1 in 3 MDS cases progress to become acute myeloid leukemia (AML), a rapidly growing cancer of bone marrow cells. The study found significant associations between both MDS and AML and exposure to benzene and, to a lesser degree, vinyl chlorides.
The risk of AML is increased by exposure to certain chemicals. Specifically, in the case of a Camp Lejeune Myelodysplastic syndromes lawsuit, exposure to benzene is an established risk factor for both MDS and resulting AML.
The CDC and other health authorities continue to research and evaluate the health consequences of Camp Lejeune’s toxic water on anyone who lived or spent time on the marine base between 1953 to 1987.
What Causes Myelodysplastic Syndromes?
MDS may be congenital or acquired. Acquired MDS may result from chemical exposure, viral infections, or immunologic disorders. You may also hear myelodysplastic syndromes referred to as myelodysplasia.
Myelodysplastic syndromes are characterized as stem cell disorders and bone marrow disorders. MDS itself is considered to be a cancerous disease.
The bone marrow is where most blood stem cells are produced and mature, eventually traveling and functioning throughout the body. However, with MDS, some of the blood stem cells are defective. As a result, the bone marrow does not make enough healthy red or white blood cells, platelets, or clotting-factor proteins.
Myelodysplastic syndromes arise when blood stem cells die in the bone marrow or soon after they enter one’s bloodstream. This results in a dangerously low number of healthy red and white blood cells and platelets, leading to severe health conditions.
Diagnosing myelodysplastic syndromes is based on:
- peripheral blood smears (where a healthcare provider looks at your blood cells and platelets under a microscope), and
- bone marrow aspiration, or bone marrow biopsy
Qualifying individuals and their survivors have a right to seek lump sum financial compensation under the CLJA. A Camp Lejeune myelodysplastic syndromes lawsuit review with our firm is complimentary and without obligation.
Symptoms of Myelodysplastic Syndromes
Some who develop myelodysplastic syndromes may not have symptoms initially. MDS often has signs and symptoms common to many diseases, such as feeling tired and weak.
Other symptoms and complications of MDS include
- Anemia – a condition due to a low red blood cell count that results in a lack of sufficient oxygen to the body’s tissues. Anemia brings on its own set of symptoms, including:
- persistent fatigue
- shortness of breath
- chest pain
- irregular or rapid heartbeat
- abnormal paleness (skin pallor)
- frequent nosebleeds or bleeding gums
- Thrombocytopenia – which causes easy or excessive bruising or bleeding from a low blood platelet count
- Petechiae – tiny red or purple spots beneath the skin due to bleeding
- Leukopenia – frequent infections caused by a low white blood cell count
Severe cases of myelodysplastic syndromes may require frequent hospitalizations or life-long red blood cell transfusions.
How to File a Camp Lejeune MDS Claim or Lawsuit
A Camp Lejeune myelodysplastic syndromes lawsuit is open to anyone who:
- Lived or worked at Camp Lejeune for 30 days or more at any point between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987, and
- Has been diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome linked to the contaminated water exposure.
Your MDS claim must adhere to the following CLJA filing process:
- The first step is to file an administrative claim with the Office of the Judge Advocate General (JAG) of the Navy’s Tort Claims Unit
- The Navy has six months to respond to your claim. JAG will either accept that your MDS claim is valid and offer you a settlement – or – it will deny your administrative claim.
- If JAG denies your claim, you have six months from the date the denial notice is mailed in which to file a Camp Lejeune myelodysplastic syndromes lawsuit under the Act.
- All CLJA lawsuits will be filed in the Federal Courts of the Eastern District of North Carolina.
- There is a two-year statute of limitations on Camp Lejeune claims. This means you cannot file a lawsuit after August 10, 2024 – or – six months after your administrative claim is denied, whichever is later.
The importance of legal representation in handling and submitting CLJA claims cannot be understated. An experienced lawyer will be able to demand a compensation amount that is fair and just relative to your MDS diagnosis and damages.
Camp Lejeune Myelodysplastic Syndromes Settlement Amounts
The Congressional Budget Office projects spending $6.1 billion between 2022 and 2031 to compensate Camp Lejeune water contamination victims. Camp Lejeune settlements will likely be based on a tiered or ranked system set by the Navy JAG or Justice Department. No settlements have occurred to date.
Higher payouts will be those with the most substantial medical and epidemiological evidence linking the disease to the toxic water. Epidemiological evidence says that a particular exposure causes a particular harm within a certain population; additionally, it quantifies how often the exposure causes the harm.
Payouts will also depend on the nature of the illness, medical condition or harm caused to the victim. There will be no punitive damages under the CLJA.
Settlement amounts for MDS claims will vary. Legal representation by attorneys experienced in toxic exposure can position your claim for maximum compensation.
Other similar cases of MDS and AML toxic exposure lawsuits (not associated with Camp Lejeune) have resulted in a range of jury awards, for example:
- 2014 Benzene / Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS) Lawsuit: Plaintiff Rick Lewis, a Nevada fuel truck driver for six years, died from myelodysplastic syndrome due to on-the-job exposure to benzene. In a wrongful death lawsuit, a jury awarded a $7.5 million verdict in 2011. The defendant, Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP, appealed the decision, and in 2014 the Nevada Supreme Court upheld the 7.5 million dollar jury verdict.
- 2016 Benzene / Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) Lawsuit: A Philadelphia jury awarded an $824,000 verdict to plaintiff Louis DeSorbo, whose exposure to benzene in solvents manufactured by U.S. Steel Corp caused his acute myeloid leukemia. DeSorbo v. U.S. Steel Corp. et al. – Case No. 130603450.
Veterans with a Potential Camp Lejeune Myelodysplastic Syndromes Lawsuit
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) established a presumptive service connection for Veterans, Reservists, and National Guard members exposed to contaminants in the water supply at Camp Lejeune from August 1, 1953, through December 31, 1987, who later developed one of the following eight diseases:
- Adult leukemia
- Aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes
- Bladder cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Liver cancer
- Multiple myeloma
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Parkinson’s disease
Note: VA claims for service-connected disability compensation are separate and apart from CLJA claims.
Many veterans have current claims with the VA for disability compensation for service-connected diseases caused by the contaminated marine base water, including MDS. If this is your experience, the new CLJA law opens a second route to recovery.
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act may allow you to recover compensation for matters not covered by VA disability benefits, such as pain and suffering or loss of employment.
An award of damages or a settlement amount from a Camp Lejeune myelodysplastic syndromes lawsuit would not reduce any existing VA benefits. Likewise, your eligibility for other VA benefits or health services would not be affected.
Our accredited VA attorneys and Camp Lejeune injury attorneys can help you with every aspect of your case.
Contact Us about a Camp Lejeune Myelodysplastic Syndromes Lawsuit
Individuals who struggle with MDS are now filing claims against the government. The Camp Lejeune Just Act provides a long-awaited path to justice.
A disability lawsuit attorney at Marc Whitehead & Associates will take every legal step to obtain the maximum payout you’re entitled to. If you have specific questions or concerns about your rights or your loved one’s rights, we are here to help. Contact us today at 800-562-9830 or request a free legal consultation using our online form.