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DOJ Gets It Wrong on Camp Lejeune – Again

Last week, we wrote about the Department of Justice attempting to put up another roadblock for victims of the Camp Lejeune water contamination. This week, matters got worse.

As we explained in the earlier blog, the Supreme Court will soon consider a case about whether a North Carolina law can invalidate claims associated with hazardous waste made 10 or more years after the pollution last occurred. Although this case isn’t about the Camp Lejeune litigation, a finding that the North Carolina law does invalidate the claims would get in the way of justice for Marines, their families, and civilians who have suffered as a result of the water contamination that plagued the North Carolina base for more than 30 years. And that is just what DOJ is hoping to see.

Instead of staying silent on the issue or taking the right side in CTS Corporation v. Waldburger—the side of those affected by the contamination—the U.S. Solicitor General is supporting a known polluter’s attempts to get out of paying for damages.

In an amicus curiae, or “friend of the court” brief, submitted Monday to the Supreme Court, Solicitor General Donald Verrilli spelled out that the government’s interest in the case was Camp Lejeune. The Solicitor General’s brief reads:

The United States has a particular interest in the interaction of CERCLA [Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act] with the North Carolina statute because of ongoing litigation against the United States under the FTCA [Federal Tort Claims Act] involving allegations of contaminated drinking water at the Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base in North Carolina.

CERCLA, the law that assigns liability for hazardous waste clean-up, supersedes state statutes of limitations, giving victims more time to file claims. This is particularly important when dealing with hazardous waste, since many effects of pollutants are diseases, such as cancer, that may only become apparent years after exposure. However, the law is silent on statutes of repose—another type of limiting statute that was not considered separate from statutes of limitations when CERCLA was signed in 1980.

In April, the Supreme Court will consider whether or not statutes of repose are covered under the statutes of limitations umbrella in CERCLA. If CTS Corporation is successful in getting the Supreme Court to overturn the Fourth Circuit’s decision, victims of the Camp Lejeune contamination will lose their ability to file claims under CERCLA. Any claim made after 1995 would fall outside the 10-year statute of repose in North Carolina, rendering the claim moot. Most Camp Lejeune victims and families were not even aware of the pollution until Congress required notice in 2006. Prior to congressional involvement, the Navy and Marine Corps had spent years hiding the truth of the contamination.

POGO’s Angela Canterbury said, “It is ludicrous to presume that the victims of Camp Lejuene should have sought relief before they even knew they were victims. And it is absolutely shameful that DOJ is seeking to deny justice to the Marines, families, and civilians who were poisoned by the country they served.”

When signing the Janey Ensminger Act, a law strongly supported by POGO that provides extended health care to Camp Lejeune victims with illnesses related to the contamination, President Obama emphasized the nation’s responsibility to the troops, saying, “They protect our freedom, and it’s our obligation to do right by them.” The DOJ’s continued insistence on characterizing the water contamination at Camp Lejeune as “allegations” shows its disregard for the intentions of Congress and the commitment of the President himself.

“It is a slap in the face to all of the men and women who serve our nation to see the U.S. government continue to deny responsibility and evade accountability,” Canterbury said. “When will the government finally make things right for those who have suffered greatly at the hands of the Marine command at Camp Lejeune?”

By: Christine Anderson
Public Policy Fellow, POGO

Christine Anderson Christine Anderson is a public policy fellow for the Project On Government Oversight.

Topics: Public Health and Science

Related Content: Public Health, Camp Lejeune Contamination Cover-up

Authors: Christine Anderson

Submitted by Retired pissed off Marine at: August 5, 2014
Served for 22 years, 14 of which were at Lejeune and New River, from 1978-1996. Lost a new born daughter to anecephaly, one of two birth defects DIRECTLY connected to poisoned water. After living in base house 5 years, drinking, cooking and bathing in poisoned water wife started losing hair, during next 2+ years lost every hair on her body. Devepoled NUMEROUS neurological disorders....Dr. at Camp Lejeune Naval Hospital suspected she had been posioned due to severity and complexity of her condition. I, a Marine CWO was accused and investigated for possibly posioning my wife. Dr. suspected Thallium posioning, so the only thing she was tested for was Thallium. All test were negative. Dr. was convinced she was posioned even though he could not find out by what! Wife and I divorced several years later as result of DR's allegations; which we now know were completely accurate. (He just pointed the finger in the wrong direction) Allegations kept me from deploying to Desert Storm, which made me non-competetive for promotion and eventually cut my military career short, against my owndesires. Ex-wife's health continued to deteriorate, and still does to this day. Her mental deterioration has rapidly deteriorated. She has now over 24 years later accused her 2nd husband (now ex) and myself, and our 30 year old daughter, AGAIN with trying to posion her. I am now a Deputy Sheriff and am still living this hellish nightmare, ALL BECAUSE OF THE CONTAMINATED, POSIONIOUS DRINKING WATER WE FIRST DRANK AT CAMP LEJEUNE OVER 34 YEARS AGO!!!! I gave EVERYTHING to the time, my daughter, my wife, my marriage, my family and their health, and this is what I get in return. SHAME ON EVERY ONE OF YOU!!!
Submitted by John R at: June 28, 2014
Cpl John R USMC 1970-76 now having issue same as my other Jarhead familys, spent 3 mo getting Orlando Fl VA office to issue Health Care for this & active service Veit Vet, after 3 mo still not issues what a disaster, now with issues as after leaving LeJune lost all hair on legs, anyway anyone with ideas get me at C-Ya oohrahhhhh
Submitted by Former Marine from Bliss MI. at: June 16, 2014
I Was a marine stationed at camp lejeune for six and a half years, Having been to every part of that base during the years from 1977 to 1984 when the contamination was at it's greatest levels.I was not notified until 2008.I now have ATXIA along with MS. The neurological effects have been slowly killing me and, have confined to a wheelchair My quality of life really sucks,As of today I still have no word from the VA can't even find a Lawyer that will take my case.I Just hope that someone will step up and do the right thing.I have given so much to this country, and received so little in return.Somebody better do something before it is to late. I am now 58 years old, and do not know how much longer I have left, nor how much more I can endure So get off your asses,and get something done about this mess you created,and covered up for so long.A proud Marine for so long,Now just fed up.My heart goes out to every Marine,and there families that were stationed at that Hell hole.
Submitted by A Sgt. Major"s Daughter at: June 13, 2014
June 12 2014 Citizen-times,North Carolina Senate Bill #574 allows Camp Lejeune to go FORWARD with claims.Much thanks to Rep.Tim Moffitti.
Submitted by Master Gunny's Daughter at: June 13, 2014
We were there from 1959 to 1969. I can't be the only child who remembered bathing at my friend's house at Tarawa Terrace and almost throwing up from the smell of the bath water (smelled just like dry cleaning fluid), or going to the Naval Hospital and not being able to drink out of the water fountain because it tasted so bad. My Dad always told me it probably was not a good idea to drink water on base. Now he is gone, having had mysterious neurological symptoms that no one ever diagnosed. My friend at Tarawa Terrace lost her brother to rare kidney cancer. Both of us signed up for the study but I doubt we'll ever see a thing from it. Dad's illness did not qualify under one of the "eligible diseases." No one is more patriotic and proud than a Marine and his family. But they knew it was polluted- everyone knew- and nothing got done. The Supreme Court decision is outrageous. It took 30 years for Dad's symptoms to show- and 30 years for Michael to develop kidney cancer.
Submitted by Sgt Major's Daughter at: June 9, 2014
Its a sad day to known that SCOTUS has such a lack of respect for human life and the UNITED STATES MARINE CORP I am not so proud to be an AMERICAN anymore.What has happened to the USA.
Submitted by Betrayed at: June 5, 2014
I was stationed at Lejeune from 83-85,and to think I was being poisoned and the higher up people in charge knew it all along. Now I'm a double amputee with kidney malfunction and severe gout, I am way beyond upset!
Submitted by A Sgt. Major's Daughter at: May 19, 2014
My mother Joyce wrote this when my father was in Vietnam. We lived at Camp Lejeune from 1964 until 1976. She died in 1981 of Cancer. She was proud to be a U.S.M.C. wife. My loved one is in Vietnam, where he fights the Viet Cong. Living in the mud and sweat, but he'll do his best you bet. For you see, he's a "gyrene"., In other word, a U.S.Marine! They're all brave men, mean and tough. They won't quit till Charlie's said enough. They eat chow that's cold and stale. Yet they've got such high morale.Sacrifices great they make, so that Ho Chi Minh will break. They will bring him to his knees, with their brave and daring deeds. Men are dying in the sand,to keep freedom in our land. Yet some of you don't seem to care. After all "That over there" I hope and pray you'll realize. And ask forgiveness from those guys.There's nothing rosy in this life. Still,I'm proud to be a Marine wife. I live on faith ,hope and prayer. He has to know that we still care. He'll be coming home one day, safe and sound, I hope and pray. He'll walk so tall,yet look so mean. He's my husband, my Marine! By J.P. Risner died at age 47. Death victim of Camp Lejeune's water.
Submitted by gymrat at: May 16, 2014
my husband died from all this and i don't even know how to file a claim. the marine corp was number 1 in his life but it also took his life.
Submitted by Scottyd at: May 8, 2014
I was stationed at Lejeune in 1980 through 1981 I recently had a portion of my left kidney removed do to cancer.Now I am waiting for my claim to be processed.Semper Fi unless it's contaminated water thanks a lot USMC
Submitted by Willowhisps at: May 5, 2014
I am a former Marine from the 1970s era. I was stationed at Cherry Point and I was sent to Lejeune multiple times during my tour to pick up and deliver military supplies for Cherry Point command. I drank the water. I am pissed about the Government's breaking faith with all of those who drank or bathed in or cooked with the water at Lejeune! The same for those who simply breathed in the water so affected.
Submitted by Rodney Rhodan at: May 5, 2014
CTS Corporation v. Waldburger; The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act preempted North Carolina's statute of repose.
Submitted by GySgt1994 at: April 28, 2014
The more time goes along the harder it is for me to tell my son and daughter what is going on and each time I see anything with a political figure I just want to vomit. Each day my "Proud to be an American" goes down and feel that countries that are against the US actually seem to care more for us (the veteran and family members). Do I fly the American flag? Not anymore. I will fly the POW-MIA and the Wounded Warriors flag. If there was one for "The Few The Proud and The Forgotten" families and service personnel I would fly it also. It's getting sadder each day when our el presidentia siigns one thing and talks through the other part of his body. Sorry America we are in deep trouble!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Submitted by Anonymous at: March 27, 2014
Jim Let them know you your family your friends will vote against them. They wont support the marines then we don't support them.
Submitted by 1983 Beirut Lebanon War Zone #1. at: March 23, 2014
Should The United States Department Of Justice Defend The Statue Of Limitation Argument In This Case? The question at bar in the United States Supreme Court, should be as follow. How many years is the statue of limitation for the death of animals & humans dying from exposiure to hazardous waste and chemical toxins, both in the air and water ways? The out come of this case will have a major impact on the Camp Lejeune water contamination issue. CTS Corporation, Petitioner v. Peter Waldburger, et al. BRIEF FOR THE UNITED STATES AS AMICUS CURIAE SUPPORTING PETITIONER, Donald B. Verrilli Jr. Solicitor general of records: QUESTION PRESENTED. Whether a provision of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, compensation, and Liability Act of 1980, 42 U.S.C. 9601 et seq., proving a federal commencement date for the running of state statues of limitation as applied to suits involving hazardous substances, 42 U.S.C. 9658, Preempts a North Carolina statue cutting off liability ten years after a defendant's last relevant act or omission. This question at bar is mute, because most victims that consume hazardous toxins is never informed within the statues limitation. Most toxins are not even discovered in soil or water until centuries after the fact. Most hazardous toxins are consumed by humans as a result of illegal dumping or illegal storing of hazardous toxins with little or no knowledge by the general public. The United States Department Of Justice decision to defend the statue of limitation issue in this case, I believe is based on the protection of the automobile industries negligence and liability for industrial pollutants. CTS Corporation manufactures automobile parts and sensors. The materials that's use to manufacture these parts are the major components of pollution to our water ways on manufacturing sites. The water that is use in the process of manufacturing these parts and sensors in the plants to keep the parts cool, while machining these parts for distribution has and external run off outside the plant. This external run off is the source of water and air contamination around and beyond the manufacturing plants sites. The automobile industries today is the driving force of our economy, therefore protection of this valuable asset is a must at any and all cost. This is why I believe the United States Justice Department is in defense of the statue of limitation argument in this case. This case out come has the potential of contaminating the out come of the Camp Lejeune contaminated drinking water issue also, therefore serving a dual propose. These types of act also can be label as and infringement on one's constitutional rights, 4th, 5th and 14th amendment to the United States Constitution. I'm guessing the feres doctrine will be the next step used.
Submitted by A Sgt Major's Daughter at: March 22, 2014
For the some that remain of the FEW. The courageous who care about the PROUD. And all who remember the FORGOTTEN souls who have already past away.They are our reason to carry on. Never give up. We are not all dead yet, We are not going to be stopped,broken or silenced.This is our challenge to stand up and fight for right and freedom. Stay Strong, the battle maybe long but we will Win. Keep the Faith!
Submitted by Cancer marine at: March 18, 2014
Came down with cancer in 2006 and we are still fighting. Was in camp lejeune 1969 to 1971 so we are able to get help from the va, but having to stop working doesn't pay the bills. We need to have help here but no luck. Guess we are more faithful then our goverment.
Submitted by DeepDrone6 at: March 11, 2014
was wondering when the he** the government is going to compensation for all the people that were exposed to this CRAP!!
Submitted by BertieBaby at: March 9, 2014
I have nephews and nieces who are in the armed forces and all I have to say is "Really?!!" This is the BEST that American can and will give to those PROTECTING us?!! Get f'ing REAL!!
Submitted by PATCH at: March 8, 2014
Submitted by ivanczar at: March 8, 2014
We Marines say Semper Fi (always faithful) while our Govt. says Semper connon fodder.
Submitted by Wampus at: March 8, 2014
Having spent 3.5 years at LeJeune in the 60's, we are very concerned about this development.
Submitted by Retired Catholic at: March 8, 2014
We are looking at an utter lack of principle and cynical callousness toward military personnel AND their families.
Submitted by Marine at: March 7, 2014
Figures, more Red tape. Semper Fi suppose to mean always faithful but here we are abandoned.

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