Camp Lejeune, NC

Are The Camp Lejeune Lawsuit Ads Legitimate?

Aron Solomon

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Allen Breed, AP

Over the past month or so, the most viral legal ads are about Camp Lejeune. You hear them on regular and satellite radio, see them on TV, and read them on more websites than you can imagine.

What they’re advertising is a potential claim you might have against the U.S. government if you or a family member were exposed to the water at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, for at least 30 days between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987, and sustained an injury due to the water contamination. Studies show that cancer rates, for example, are far higher than the norm for people exposed to this water at Camp Lejeune.

As far back as the early 1980s, the military knew that the drinking water at Camp Lejeune had organic compounds that made it toxic to consume. The VA has estimated that there are close to one million Marines and Navy personnel and their families who have been exposed to this toxic water.

The reason this is all in the news this month is because of a piece of legislation called the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2021-2022. This Act opens doors that were previously closed for veterans and their families or obtain compensation for their injuries. President Biden signed the Act into law in early August, as part of the broader Honoring Our Pact Act of 2022, the most comprehensive toxic exposure legislation ever passed to help veterans and their families.

Attorney Gordon Kessler, has written about claimants’ rights in the Camp Lejeune lawsuits. In an exclusive interview, he shared several pieces of advice to avoid the inevitable pitfalls that come with these kinds of mass tort suits.

“Honestly, one of the most important things I can say is to make sure you are talking to a lawyer about your case. Claims such as these Camp Lejeune cases can be complicated, so speaking directly with a licensed attorney to screen your case will ensure the best result.”

Kessler’s firm, Team Law, are New Jersey lawyers. When they discuss Camp Lejeune with potential clients, they do so with state residents in person or over the phone. Regardless of the method, the client is always talking with an actual attorney.

“This process really saves time for the client as well. If, for example, we can quickly discover something in the facts that makes them ineligible to sue, we can let the client know that pursuing a claim isn’t in their best interest.”

Part of what's important here is obviously the attention that comes with not simply being a call center lead, but it can also save a lot of time in the long run for someone who isn't sure what to do next if they think they might have a claim.

“For people who do have a viable claim, they always appreciate talking to a real person and a lawyer to discuss their case. This initial personal touch gives people a lot more confidence that someone is watching out for their best interests.”

You're not going to hear or see these ads slowing down anytime soon. The recent change in the rules was a substantive one, as Kessler notes:

“Most importantly, this new law helps veterans and their families by overriding the existing law in North Carolina that wasn’t favorable to claimants. It required that any lawsuit needed to be filed within ten years of exposure to the toxins at Camp Lejeune. Often, cancers were not diagnosed until later in life, so North Carolina barred a claim. That’s no longer the case - the door is now open for veterans and their family members to file suit for these injuries.”

The change in the rules was really one based on fundamental fairness for people who were injured at Camp Lejeune. Most of these radio and TV ads take as their common theme the idea that many brave people felt they understood the risks of joining the military and training at places such as Camp Lejeune. But to now have to deal with the consequences of decades of unknown risks is fundamentally unfair - yet another of how profoundly what we don't know can hurt us.

About Aron Solomon

A Pulitzer Prize-nominated writer, Aron Solomon, JD, is the Chief Legal Analyst for Esquire Digital and 24-7 Abogados. He has taught entrepreneurship at McGill University and the University of Pennsylvania, and was elected to Fastcase 50, recognizing the top 50 legal innovators in the world. Aron has been featured in Forbes, CBS News, CNBC, USA Today, ESPN, TechCrunch, The Hill, BuzzFeed, Fortune, Venture Beat, The Independent, Fortune China, Yahoo!, ABA Journal, Law.com, The Boston Globe, NewsBreak, and many other leading publications.

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Aron Solomon, JD, is the Chief Legal Analyst for Esquire Digital, who has taught entrepreneurship at McGill University and the University of Pennsylvania, and was elected to Fastcase 50, recognizing the top 50 legal innovators in the world.

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