WASHINGTON, June 18, 2018 — A pro bono team that included numerous King & Spalding lawyers has achieved an appellate victory in a landmark case challenging the unconscionable delays that veterans face when appealing a denial of disability benefits to the Veterans Administration.
On June 7, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit unanimously reversed the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. The Federal Circuit found that when the lower court had dismissed the pro bono team’s writs of mandamus—which sought to overcome long delays veterans face in the benefit-appeals process—the lower court had used the wrong standard to analyze the legality of delays that veterans face. The pro bono team originally filed the petitions in June 2016.
Federal Circuit Judge Kimberly Moore wrote in her concurring opinion: “The men and women in these cases protected this country and the freedoms we hold dear; they were disabled in the service of their country; the least we can do is properly resolve their disability claims so that they have the food and shelter necessary for survival. It takes on average six and a half years for a veteran to challenge a [Board of Veterans Appeals] determination and get a decision on remand. God help this nation if it took that long for these brave men and women to answer the call to serve and protect. We owe them more.”
The King & Spalding team worked on this case with the American College of Trial Lawyers and with Steve Raber of Williams & Connolly LLP as co-counsel. King & Spalding’s team included John Chandler, Beth Tanis, Lane Dennard, Drew Dropkin, Chris Healy, Tom Markle, Abby Parsons, Bryan Zubay, Olivia Carnegie, Catherine Ingram and Conor Daniels.
The case was remanded to the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims; the pro bono team is confident and hopeful that, when the proper standard is used on remand, the court will agree that the staggering delays that veterans face are unreasonable, not consistent with the law and will require prompt decisions on the veterans’ appeals.
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