Are you a victim of the Camp Lejeune water contamination and looking to understand what the government contractor defense means for your case? It’s understandable to feel the need for clarity in the confusing legal landscape, with daunting concepts primed to hinder any chance at obtaining justice.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs states that “For more than 30 years, people living or working at the U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina were potentially exposed to two chemicals in their tap water.” This was a tragedy contributing to ailments among soldiers and civilians located on-site during this period.
For those wishing to obtain compensation for this negligence, one hindrance is proving their exposure. This exposure must be due to negligent behavior by national contractors. Legal experts have termed this a controversial concept called the “government contractor defense.”
Now, we’ll explain what this term entails and how it affects Camp Lejeune victims fighting for justice.
Overview of Camp Lejeune Water Contamination and Government Contractor Defense
Many Camp Lejeune victims have been unable to progress in legal matters due to government contractor defense. In short, the government contractor defense is predicated on alleging that a National Contractor was responsible for any negligent behavior instead of other organizations or federal agents. This can be difficult to prove but must be done if those affected hope to receive compensation.
To better understand why proving negligence can be challenging, let’s take a brief look at what caused the Camp Lejeune tragedy in the first place. From 1957-1987, two chemicals (tetrachloroethylene and trichloroethylene) were found in tap water supplies on base sites due to their use for cleaning and other purposes.
This exposure led to both adults and children experiencing symptoms of Camp Lejeune Water Contamination such as liver cancer, adult leukemia, asthma, and other lifelong illnesses.
TorHoerman Law, a justice law firm, suggests that individuals affected by the Camp Lejeune Water Contamination tragedy may analyze toxicology, epidemiology, and environmental science to prove the link between exposure and harm.
The site highlights that individual settlement amounts for exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune could be significant, depending on the injuries and evidence involved in each case.
The Role of Scientific Evidence in Proving Liability
Liability in incidents involving environmental contamination, such as the Camp Lejeune water pollution, is often dependent on scientific evidence. In these situations, it is common practice to employ scientific data to prove that the victim’s injuries were caused by their contact with a particular pollutant.
Expert witnesses are frequently called upon to present scientific evidence in environmental contamination proceedings. These professionals have in-depth understanding of their respective domains, including but not limited to toxicology, epidemiology, and environmental science. Their job is to testify in court about the link they see between a certain pollutant and the harm the victim experienced.
Presenting scientific evidence can be difficult because of the necessity to prove its validity. The courts place a high burden of proof on scientific evidence, ensuring its validity and reliability.
To decide whether or not expert testimony can be utilized in court, the Daubert standard is applied. It necessitates that the offered scientific information is backed by solid methodology and has been reviewed and accepted for publication by experts in the field.
There is scientific evidence connecting particulate pollutants found in the water at Camp Lejeune to the health problems experienced by veterans and their families. Trichloroethylene (TCE) is one such chemical that has been linked to a variety of health issues, including cancer, neurological diseases, and more.
In addition to proving that the victim was harmed because of their contact with a particular pollutant, scientific data can be utilized to quantify that damage. This is especially important for victims of cancer-causing chemical exposure.
Controversy Over Government Contractor Defense and Victims’ Compensation
The crux of the controversy surrounding this legal concept is as follows: due to a lack of strict enforcement codes, national contractors have been free to engage in negligent behaviors during their operations.
Then, should victims seek compensation for damages due to said negligent behavior, there would be an alleged buffer between them and the organizations/federal agents responsible.
One example of this debate can be seen with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and its decision not to base any compensation on whether experienced contractors were at fault or not. Instead, the Department looks towards the more transparent route of ‘junior-level culpability’ without, some argue, fully recognizing senior-level negligence.
Ultimately, controversy exists among those supporting victims’ rights to obtain justice and those seeking to strengthen laws protecting national contractors from scrutiny. Victims are caught somewhere in between, hoping for clarity on what awaits them once attempting legal proceedings.
Camp Lejeune Water Contamination: Recent Developments and Future Implications
2015 marked a notable milestone when Congress passed the Jerry Ensminger Act, named after a nine-year-old diagnosed with childhood leukemia due to her father’s exposure to contaminants at Camp Lejeune.
The act provides health care free of charge for those affected by the contamination, as well as creates a registry aimed towards documenting anyone who might have been exposed while either living or working on-site.
However, many believe that further reforms need to be implemented when it comes to navy contractor laws and the justice victims seeking compensation for their illnesses deserve, not least because government contractor defense remains a contentious issue with regard to potential negligence claims.
This is why organizations such as the National Veterans Legal Services Program are advocating for stricter guidelines. In conclusion, understanding and taking heed of recent developments (including the existing debate surrounding government contractor defense) is key if Camp Lejeune victims hope to obtain any meaningful justice down the line.