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LAWSUITS NEWS & LEGAL INFORMATION

Yale Law School Champions Disabled Veterans Still Awaiting VA Benefits

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New Haven, CTIn early April of this year, an offshoot of the hallowed Yale Law School filed a VA disability benefits class-action lawsuit on behalf of thousands of veterans still waiting for needed benefits. It wasn’t exactly done quietly, as the lead plaintiff in the case, together with students from the Veterans Legal Services Clinic at Yale and Senator Richard Blumenthal, held a press conference the day on which the lawsuit was filed, April 6, in the US Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC).

“It’s frustrating to be stuck in limbo,” said Conley Monk, the lead plaintiff in the disabled veterans benefits lawsuit.
“It has been nearly two years since I began my initial appeal by filing a Notice of Disagreement and electing a Decision Review Officer hearing in July 2013, and the VA has still not decided my case.” The combat veteran noted that while waiting for his benefits to come through, he lost his home to fire and is continuing to suffer from significant medical problems, partly stemming from a botched VA surgery, or so it is alleged.

“I strongly support action to reform this broken appeals system because justice delayed for these veterans is justice denied, unconscionably and unacceptably,” explained Senator Blumenthal (D-CT), ranking member on the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

“I hear from hundreds of veterans whose benefit appeals have languished for months, even years. The VA needs to improve and enhance its processing of appeals from denial of critical benefit applications. I support more resources and additional staff who will expedite these benefit applications and appeals.”

The VA continues to tout gradual improvements in wait times for processing benefits on behalf of veterans. However, veterans’ advocates continue to decry the status quo as woefully inadequate for servicemen and women who continue to suffer without needed benefits. Advocates note that veterans stepped up in the face of conflict, serving their country and carrying out their orders while faced with a constant risk to their personal health and well-being.

They say it is time for Veterans Affairs to step up to the plate and match the commitment and dedication of veterans in times of conflict, by caring for them adequately post-conflict.

A recent investigation by National Public Radio found that numerous veterans, who continue to suffer health problems from Agent Orange, are continuing to wait for benefits years and even decades after the fact - if they haven’t already fallen through the cracks completely, or died while waiting.

“Mr. Monk brings this suit for himself and thousands of other veterans pursuing an initial appeal who do not have the resources to file a federal lawsuit to compel the VA to act,” said Julia Shu, a law student intern in the Yale law clinic. “The only legal option for a veteran whose initial appeal languishes in the VA system is expensive and time-consuming. Each veteran must retain legal counsel and apply individually to CAVC to request a court order that the VA decide his or her case. System-wide delays persist when the CAVC does not resolve an issue for all affected veterans in one decision.”

Those comments are echoed by Will Hudson, a fellow law student intern at Yale. Together with Shu and supervising attorney Michael Wishnie of the Veterans Legal Services Clinic at the famed law academy, the trio is representing Monk and other potential class members in the case.

“This [VA lawsuit] is novel because judges of the Court have repeatedly recognized their power to adjudicate a class action-type case, but in the history of the US Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, they have yet to do so,” said Will Hudson. “This is an appropriate case to recognize the first collective action and to bring relief to these veterans who should not be expected to wait any longer.”

Case information for the VA compensation lawsuit was not available.

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READER COMMENTS

Posted by

on
My husband is a Vietnam Veteran and filed a claim for Parkinson's disease in 2010. It was denied and in 2011 it went before the VBA. July 2015 the VBA denied it again, after seeing in the file husband was diagnosed with Parkinson's and more times than not the diagnosis changed from Parkinson's disease, to Lewy Body disease, to idiopathic Parkinson's disease, to superimposed Alzheimer's disease, or Parkinson's plus syndrome and again to vascular dementia. But still denied. He was also given antipsychotic drugs that caused him to have a stroke while in a VAMC. Those same drugs had a BLACK BOX WARNING FROM THE FDA: DO NOT GIVE TO ELDERLY PATIENTS WITH DEMENTIA. MAY CAUSE HEART ATTACK, STROKE OR EVEN DEATH. They are also known to cause drug induced Parkinson's disease. The drugs were given to chemically restrain, not to treat any disease. The medical records show they were to be given when he became agitated. But three of the same types of drugs at the same time along with lorazepam, citalopram and other drugs in the same class.
So since he did not die from the deadly mixed drug cocktail, they will keep denying the claims until he dies. He cannot walk, talk or do anything for himself.
Even after filing an OIG complaint nothing was done. But after reading the medical records, it shows all the drugs that were given during the time he had the stroke. I have on disc over 3000 pages of medical records.
I repeatedly asked that my husband not be given antipsychotic drugs to include Risperdal, Haldol, and Seroquel.

Posted by

on
I'm not a lawyer but heard this from a person in the know. When the gov or a gov agency doesn't legally resolve an issue they are responsible for, a cause, then switch to a Fed Court Tax Payor Law Suit. This would normally transfer the case to Fed. Court. But in this type of case, my opinion, I found years ago via another's case, that Fed Court is jurisdictional, then this case would belong in the Court of Claims out of WA D.C., Court name a little different now but still there.

Posted by

on
Viet nam vet waiting over two years for a decission on
a Notice of disagreement. We performed our duty and served
Our country without hesitation. Now they keep us waitng
hoping we will die Waitng. It's a disgrace. Illegals and
prisoners get better service than we do.
They claim that they have improve the system and reduce the
backlog but from what I hear from fellow vets. It's BS.
It's the same old BS.

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