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.
Mikal Watts, whose Texas firm has 6,000 Camp Lejeune clients, said its internal auditors determined hundreds of referrals from other lawyers for Camp Lejuene and other cases were bogus, often based on doctored medical records and fictional reports of diseases or other sickness. Some of the would-be plaintiffs, he said, had been recruited through call centers based in India.
Another lawyer, Donald Marcari, said his Virginia-based firm has rejected scores of suspicious Camp Lejeune claims, including a few from people who listed home addresses that turned out to be a Burger King or a local chapel, or who offered confusing or illogical replies to routine questions about their time at the base or how they got sick.
“As soon as you go outside the script, they can't answer,” said Marcari, a former Navy attorney.
Grifters trying to cash in on a sprawling public injury case isn't new, but the Camp Lejeune litigation has qualities that make it particularly vulnerable.
The government has already acknowledged its responsibility—and willingness to pay—for contamination at the North Carolina Marine base that over decades may have exposed as many as 1 million people to toxic water.
A surge in available…