Court Says the Department Improperly Changed Rules, Harmed Veterans.
According to an article published last week in the Wall Street Journal, a federal appeals court is considering sanctions against the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for failing to live up to its word in a case involving Veterans’ benefits.
The opinion, issued by the Federal Appeals Court for the Federal Circuit in Washington, DC, centers on how VA issued regulations in 2011 that deprived Veterans of due process rights while appealing VA disability claim decisions. In addition, the Court did not approve of how VA’s attorneys in Washington, DC handled the case by continuing to use the illegal regulation.
The National Organization of Veterans’ Advocates (NOVA) brought suit against VA to stop the regulation on two grounds: it was illegal and it harmed Veterans by depriving them of due process rights. On March 21, the Federal Circuit ruled in favor of NOVA. The Court took an unusual step and threatened sanctions against VA for the agency’s misconduct. NOVA’s press release explains the details.
It seems that sanctions may be needed to motivate VA in the future…” Judge S. Jay Plager
“It seems that sanctions may be needed to motivate VA in the future to treat its commitments and representations to this court and opposing counsel with the seriousness to which they are entitled,” wrote Federal Appeals Court Judge S. Jay Plager, a Veteran who served in the Navy during the Korean War.
Bergmann & Moore salutes NOVA and the Federal Circuit for their vital roles as a watchdogs for our Veterans in Washington.
Glenn Bergmann, a partner at Bergmann & Moore, responded to the Court’s ruling.
“Veterans and the attorneys who represent them are glad to see the Federal Circuit finally holding VA’s feet to the fire,” said Bergmann. “As Veterans advocates we have been frustrated for many years by VA’s adversarial posturing against Veterans – the very folks the agency is called upon to assist.”
Bergmann concluded, “Hopefully, VA will repair the damage the agency caused as well as refrain from further harmful actions towards our Veterans.”