TODAY 4PM: Sullivan, GOP Senators to Seek Expedited Passage of Bill Protecting Camp Lejeune Vets from Unscrupulous Trial Lawyers
Legislation would cap fees charged by lawyers in Camp Lejeune water contamination cases
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), and Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) today at 4:00pm will attempt to pass the Protect Camp Lejeune Victims Ensnared by Trial-lawyers’ Scams (VETS) Act by unanimous consent, meaning the bill will pass unless any senator objects. The bill would cap the fees trial lawyers can charge in cases representing sick Marines and other individuals impacted by water contamination at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. Impacted individuals are able to seek compensation as a result of the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, which became law in August in the larger Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act. During consideration of the PACT Act, Senate Democrats blocked votes on any amendments, including an amendment to cap legal fees. Since passage of the law, trial lawyers across the country have unleashed hundreds of millions of dollars in television ads and social media campaigns, seeking out Marines and other victims for Camp Lejeune-related cases and charging contingency fees reportedly as high as 60 percent.
“You can’t turn on a TV in America without seeing ads from trial lawyers trying to get rich at the expense of sick Marines who served at Camp Lejeune,” said Sen. Sullivan. “Worst of all, we knew this was coming. The Biden Justice Department warned us that, without a cap, predatory law firms could grab the lion’s share of these judgments and leave Marines and their family members with crumbs. This is an outrage—all Americans know it, all senators know it. My Republican colleagues and I put forward an amendment to fix this in the PACT Act, but Democrats blocked it. It’s outrageous. With our legislation, my colleagues will again have an opportunity to protect these courageous service members who’ve served and sacrificed to protect all of us. The American people will know where every U.S. senator stands.”
“Generations of brave Kentuckians joined the U.S. Marines to protect and defend our nation, only to ingest contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune and suffer debilitating lifelong illnesses as a consequence. These heroes deserve justice – and deserve protection from predatory trial lawyers,” said Senator McConnell. “I’m proud to join with Senator Sullivan and cosponsor the Protect Camp Lejeune VETS Act. This legislation was designed to support sick veterans, not enrich greedy lawyers.”
“This commonsense proposal should have been included in this legislation from the beginning and should be adopted unanimously today. When Congress enacted this law, the intent -- which I fully support -- was to provide compensation to Marines and their families who were harmed by contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune. Greedy trial lawyers saw a blank check from Congress with no limits on the fees they could charge and are using it to get rich at the expense of veterans,” Sen. Grassley said.
“The funds for Camp Lejeune victims should be used to care for the affected Marines and their families, not to enrich predatory lawyers. As a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, I am committed to protecting those who have protected us. This includes doing what I can to fix poorly written provisions included in the hastily passed PACT Act. This bill closes a legislative loophole to ensure no one is able to profit from the misfortune of our veterans. I hope my Democratic colleagues will also affirm their commitment to protecting our veterans by supporting this legislation,” said Sen. Tuberville.
“As those who served at Camp Lejeune pursue their much-deserved compensation, the federal government should not be lining the pockets of trial lawyers,” said Senator Ernst, a veteran and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.“Without a cap on fees, predatory lawyers have the chance to get rich quick off the plight of our veterans. Any compensation for these lawyers should reflect their effort and not come in the form of a blank check from the federal government.”
“The lawyers who profit from veterans’ service and sickness are despicable and must be stopped. The bill caps the fees attorneys can charge so our Marines and Sailors will not be taken advantage of. I will continue to fight for our veterans and ensure their legacy is honored, not exploited,” said Sen. Cramer.
“Camp Lejeune veterans have already given so much – they shouldn’t have to give up their lifesavings to trial lawyers and ambulance chasers who are trying manipulate an already tragic situation,” Sen. Daines said.
“Trial attorneys shouldn’t be preying on innocent veterans who became ill after serving at Camp Lejeune. I’m proud to join my colleague Sen. Sullivan in introducing the Protect Camp Lejeune VETS Act to ensure attorneys aren’t charging exorbitant fees under the guise of helping those who served our country honorably,” said Sen. Lummis.
Sullivan, Tuberville, Cassidy and Cramer are members of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. Grassley is the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The Protect Camp Lejeune VETS Act is endorsed by the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and the American Legion.
“In recent years, there has been a spike in predatory companies offering veterans help with their claims and lawsuits. This has been highlighted by the incessant ads about compensation for contaminated water at Camp Lejeune. The VFW believes there should be guardrails put in place to make sure that veterans are represented by individuals or organizations that follow the rule of law and aren’t just looking to make a quick buck. We applaud Senator Sullivan for highlighting this issue with the Protect Camp Lejeune VETS Act and look forward to working with him to put in place reasonable fees for Camp Lejeune contaminated water suits,” said Ryan Gallucci, VFW’s deputy executive director of the Washington office.
“With the passage of the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, veterans and their families were finally able to pursue legal action against the government for their exposure to toxic contaminated water at Camp Lejeune. After decades of waiting, and suffering the realities of life-threatening medical conditions, they were bombarded by advertisements from unscrupulous law firms charging exorbitant fees. We commend Senator Sullivan for correcting this injustice by introducing legislation that caps legal fees at a reasonable amount to ensure our veterans and their families are not taken advantage of,” said Chanin Nuntavong, executive director of government affairs for the American Legion.
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