By Peter Chawaga
As federal officials try to compensate the victims of one of the most high-profile drinking water contamination incidents in recent history, a surge of imposters could seriously impair the efforts.
“The government plan to pay billions of dollars to victims of toxic water at Camp Lejeune has unleashed a wave of fraudulent claims that threatens to disrupt or taint what could be one of the largest-ever mass tort cases,” Bloomberg reported. “Veterans advocates and lawyers also say the fake claims — and the time and effort to identify and weed them out — could dilute the empathy for legitimately ill victims and slow the process of compensating them.”
Service members and their families living near Camp Lejeune consumed dangerously contaminated water for years, and a recent Congressional bill to compensate those victims has initiated a payout process that could reach $21 billion. And, sadly, this has been one of the primary factors attracting the fraudulent claims.
“A surge in available litigation funding means extra resources for law firms to find and register as many potential plaintiffs as they can before the window to file claims ends next August,” according to Bloomberg. “And social media and technology have made it easier than ever for legal advertising and lead-generating firms to find those people and sell their names to lawyers.”
Reports of a call center that coaches fake claimants on the proper dates and cancer types to cite have emerged and the surviving family members of legitimate victims have been contacted by imposters pretending to be their lawyers, per Bloomberg.
This wave of fraudulent claims is only one of the setbacks government officials are facing as they attempt to compensate victims. As they work to settle almost 100,000 initial claims, many other victims are looking to litigate the monumental contamination issue in court.
“I’m committed to vigorously advocating for trials to begin in 2024,” one lawyer representing Camp Lejeune plaintiffs told Roll Call. “The veterans, their families and others that have suffered from the water at Camp Lejeune and, after decades of waiting, they deserve to have their day in court.”
As more challenges emerge in the aftermath of this historic contamination, the fight for compensation should stand as a reminder to those responsible for protecting consumers.
To read more about how water systems address harmful chemicals, visit Water Online’s Drinking Water Contaminant Removal Solutions Center.