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Camp Lejeune Lawsuit Goes Forward

 

Courtesy: Salem-News.com (Salem, OR)

(JACKSONVILLE, NC) – Federal Eastern District Judge Terrence Boyle denied a motion by the government this past Wednesday to reconsider requests to dismiss the $10,000 injury lawsuit of Marine spouse Laura Jones, who contracted non-Hodgkins lymphoma after living aboard Lejeune for three years with her husband.

Judge Boyle has previously rejected two motions by the government to dismiss the case on the grounds that there were no standards to govern levels of the Lejeune's TCE and PCE contaminants during the period of contamination and that Jones' cancer, which was diagnosed in 2003, was outside of North Carolina's 10-year statute of repose for injury claims.

Hope Hodge reporting in the Jacksonville News that Judge Boyle “reaffirmed his position that the statute didn't apply to latent diseases, particularly when the plaintiff was not made aware of the presence of contaminants.” Interpreting (the statute) to apply to latent diseases would lead to absurd consequences,” he wrote.

Judge Boyle granted a motion by Jones' attorneys to proceed with the case.

Hope reported that “In Judge Boyle's November dismissal of previous objections, he acknowledged other former residents of Camp Lejeune who were exposed to the contaminants.”

Government estimated as much as a million Lejeune veterans and dependents were exposed to the contaminated water over a 30 year period. 

Former Marine wife Laura Jones' husband was stationed at Camp Lejeune; her legal team says the federal government knew that hundreds of thousands of Marines drank contaminated drinking water. Lawyers say 45-year-old Laura Jones has lymphoma and now lives in Iowa.

The law offices of Anderson Pangia & Associates, PLLC (offices in Washington, D.C. and Winston Salem, North Carolina) and Smorto, Persio, Webb & McGill (of Ebensburg, Pennsylvania), filed the suit on July 6th, 2009.

The lawsuit alleges that the United States Government, through agents within the Department of Defense, knowingly exposed hundreds of thousands of Marines, sailors, their family members, and civilian employees to highly contaminated drinking water on the base at Camp Lejeune, while at the same time actively disseminating disinformation to those exposed in an effort to minimize the significance of the exposure.

The complaint was filed in Federal court in the Eastern District of North Carolina, attaches numerous documentary exhibits in support of its allegations that the government knowingly, recklessly and/or negligently violated its own standards, rules and regulations by permitting the exposure to continue after the government was specifically warned the drinking water was “highly contaminated with . . . solvents!” and advised that “these appear[] to be at high levels and hence more important from a health standpoint. . . ”

The lawsuit alleged that the Department of the Navy had regulations in place as early as 1963 which prohibited the contamination and which would have averted it had those regulations been obeyed; subsequently in 1974 the Commanding General of Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina put in place additional regulations governing the proper disposal of the very same chemicals which were discovered later to be contaminating the drinking water; had these regulations been obeyed, the contamination likewise would have been prevented. This same 1974 base order declared these “organic solvents” to be hazardous, the lawsuit states.

Many scientists have called the drinking water contamination at Camp Lejeune the worst in the nation's history.

The lawsuit alleges that exposure to the toxins caused numerous health problems including cancers, reproductive disorders and birth defects, among other maladies.

Chemicals in Camp Lejeune's water are believed to have caused different types of cancers, lower intestinal disorders, reproductive disorders, birth defects and stillborn births. Problems with TCE/PCE contact can also be hereditary.

Salem-News.com has reported extensively on the contamination at Camp Lejeune. It took years, but it had finally been recognized that there was tainted water on the base due to PCE, perchloroethylene, which the Department of the Navy blamed on an off base dry cleaner.

A report issued by the National Research Council, formed under the direction of the very agency being targeted for responsibility in the matter, the Department of the Navy, suddenly announced that the otherwise proven and accepted data connecting the toxic water at Camp Lejeune to health problems, was inconclusive.

The National Research Council report states, “Studies specifically on the Camp Lejeune population have addressed only reproductive health outcomes, but the limited quality of exposure information restricts their value. The inability to study exposure and health outcomes accurately is a serious limitation in any future research.”

The scientists with the National Research Council admit that “evidence exists that people who lived or worked at Camp Lejeune Marine Base in North Carolina between the 1950s and 1985 were exposed to the industrial solvents trichloroethylene (TCE) or perchloroethylene (PCE) in their water supply.”

The report however states that, “…strong scientific evidence is not available to determine whether health problems among those exposed are due to the contaminants.”

The attorneys say the government, at the same time, actively disseminated disinformation to those exposed in an effort to minimize the significance of the exposure.

Salem-News.com's Dr. Phil Leveque, a physician, pharmacologist and forensic toxicologist, says that it far more likely that the Marines at Lejeune were contaminated with trichloroethylene (TCE), a degreasing chemical sold by Dow Chemical to the Federal government and subsequently to the Marine Corps.
The same contaminant is prominent at the highly contaminated and now-closed El Toro Marine Air Station in Orange County, California.

It is noteworthy that Dr. Phillip Leveque testified as a forensic toxicologist in the mid-1970s in what he believes was the first TCE-death related court case. In that event, Dow Chemical was found to be responsible for a man's death over improper warning labels. The man was a janitor who cleaned supermarket floor gum stains with TCE for six weeks before dropping dead of liver failure.

The complaint over Camp Lejeune attaches numerous documentary exhibits in support of its allegations that the government knowingly, recklessly and/or negligently violated its own standards, rules and regulations by permitting the exposure to continue after the government was specifically warned the drinking water was “highly contaminated with solvents!”

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