A former U.S. Marine alleges his terminal cancer developed because of exposure to toxic water at North Carolina’s Camp Lejeune. He has filed a petition to have his deposition heard before his lawsuit will be adjudicated because he may not live long enough to see his day in court. 

Charles Hartfield, a resident of Hattiesburg, MS, was told in early 2021 that because of his terminal bladder cancer, he will live only three to five years longer. Stationed at North Carolina’s Camp Lejeune during the late 1970s, Hartfield is also requesting that a federal judge preserve his testimony. 

Hartfield’s petition reveals that he intends to file a Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuit against the U.S. government under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act (CLJA). 

Camp Lejeune was contaminated with toxic water from the 1950s to the 1980s. Previous to the Biden Administration’s signing of the CLJA in August 2022, U.S. Marines and their family members who developed health complications because of the contamination were unable to sue the U.S. government under so-called “qualified immunity defenses.”

The CLJA opened a two-year window for Camp Lejeune plaintiffs to file a claim against the U.S. government. Hartfield, who claims his health is rapidly deteriorating, fears he won’t live long enough for his claim to reach trial because the CLJA includes a requirement that plaintiffs must give notice to the U.S. Department of Navy and wait at least six months before filing a complaint and starting the discovery process.

Under the CLJA, Camp Lejeune plaintiffs, including former military members, their families or people who worked at the base from 1953 to 1987, must have been exposed to contaminated water for a minimum of 30 days in order to file a claim. More than one million people were likely exposed to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, estimates suggest.