Monday, March 12, 2007

Flash! Ribaudo Upheld!

Perhaps someone from the National Veterans Legal Services Program can correct me, but here is what we believe happened in regard to the Ribaudo v. Nicholson case:

Considering the original opinion in Ribaudo was reposted on March 7, with an effective date of March 2, it appears as though the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims took a dim view of the delaying tactics employed by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Our guess is the USCAVC granted the opposing motion filed on March 6th, and granted that motion on March 7th, retroactive to March 2, the original deadline.

Assuming that is correct…

Ribaudo has been upheld! Cases will now proceed to be processed in normal order.

[caveat: there is language in the dissenting opinion by Judge KASOLD, that distinguishes between cases on appeal at the Board and cases in claim status at the board, which have not yet been adjudicated. If this very confusing language in Judge KASOLD’s dissent is what I think it is, he is in essence telling the Secretary of Veterans Affairs that the Ribaudo decision only affects cases under appeal, not those in various conditions of the claims process, new claims, or claims that have been decided but not appealed. However, this is the dissenting opinion, and as such has no binding in law.]

…One final hurdle has to be surmounted – the appeal of Haas. This is scheduled [last we heard] for argument sometime this Summer with a decision either in late Summer or early Fall. It is unlikely that many cases will be approved in that period, given the current overload from the Iraq war, the Gulf War, and the Global War on Terror, and given the probability that there are few Blue Water Navy Vietnam Agent Orange claims currently pending on appeal, or in processing.

What this all means is that Blue Water Navy claims currently under appeal will be processed in their normal place in the Department’s docket; Blue Water Navy claims currently in process will be processed in their regular order, and prior Blue Water Claims that were approved and then paid, but were then stopped and recouped, may now be reopened and repaid; claims previously denied based on “feet on the ground” and not appealed, should be reopened and reevaluated, retroactive to the date of the initial claim, and we believe Nehmer [benefits must be paid retroactive to the date of the claim] should be in play for this, otherwise, we will need to see Nehmer expanded to include cases denied under rules later reversed by the courts.

Hang in there fellow Blue Water Vets! Justice is finally arriving for us.

VN Vets

"With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan--to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations." -- President Abraham Lincoln

"Without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious." --President George Washington

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