President Biden has signed the “Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022” (S.3373) into law. The Act allows military veterans to file civil lawsuits against the U.S. Government for harm caused by at least thirty days of exposure (including in utero exposure) to water at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina from August 1, 1953 to December 31, 1987. The United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina is the exclusive venue for actions brought pursuant to the Act. The Act precludes the U.S. Government from asserting immunity that otherwise would be available in response to litigation. The law also overrides a North Carolina statute of repose that precludes the filing of tort claims after ten years. Punitive damages are not available for claims brought under the Act and awards will be offset by the amount of any disability award, payment, or benefit received by the claimant from any program administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, the Medicare program, or the Medicaid program in connection with health care or a disability relating to exposure to water supplied by or on behalf of the U.S. Government at Camp Lejeune. The Act was folded into a broader law (the “Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act of 2022” or “Honoring our PACT Act of 2022”) that enhances health care and disability claims for veterans exposed to toxic burn pits and certain other service-related toxic exposures.
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