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Camp Lejeune Trials are Bringing More Legal Questions


As you may have heard or read, the government has been slow to settle Camp Lejeune lawsuits, and that means that there is a backlog of Camp Lejeune toxic water cases just waiting to get to trial.

They will not all be tried. For many, sadly, victims may pass away before a trial can be reached. But now that many are finally reaching court trial dockets, new legal issues are arising in these cases.

New Life to Injuries

The government in 2022, gave new life to people who had worked at, or who were stationed at, Camp Lejeune anytime between 1953-1987. The claims arose  from toxicity in the water at Camp Lejeune, meaning that thousands of service members, employees and contractors who worked at the base, were sickened.

While those claims normally would have been too old to bring to court, the 2022 allowed people with certain serious illnesses who had worked at the camp, to bring lawsuits against the US government, for claims that the government knew or should have known about the toxic water, but did nothing about it, and allowed people at the camp to drink the water.

Claims can be brought not just by servicemembers, but also those who worked at the camp, so long as they were at the camp in some capacity for 30 days or more.

Jury or No Jury?

Now that many of these cases are making their way to trial, one thing to be resolved is whether there will be a jury for these cases. In most personal injury cases, a victim has a right to a jury of his or her peers to determine the outcome of the case.

But the law that was passed in 2022, which renewed the right to bring what would otherwise have been expired claims, doesn’t specifically say that there is a right to a jury. Government lawyers are arguing that in the absence of such language, a jury need not be provided. Because the revival of claims is purely a result of that law, the law must say that a jury is allowed, in order to provide a right to a jury, the government is arguing.

Victims argue the opposite, that if the law  doesn’t expressly forbid a jury, a victim has a right to have a case heard by a jury.

Deceased Victims

Another challenge is who can bring a claim for someone who has since passed away. Normally, in personal injury law in most every state, the death of an injury victim still allows the family or representative or estate of the deceased, to bring or continue to bring the injury lawsuit on behalf of the deceased’s estate.

For those who passed away after the 2022 law, it is clear that families can bring lawsuits on behalf of the deceased. What the government contends isn’t so clear is whether families of those who passed away prior to the new law, before the claims were revived and viable, can do the same.

Contact the Knoxville personal injury attorneys at Fox Farley Willis & Burnette, PLLC, today.




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