On December 7, 2018, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit is scheduled to hear oral arguments in a case called Procopio v. Wilke. Although this case has quietly made its way through the courts, it has the potential to dramatically change the manner in which the US Department of Veterans Affairs addresses service-connected disability benefits claims associated with exposure to Agent Orange.
The Wisconsin Access to Justice Commission has named Travis James West of West & Dunn to the 2017 Pro Bono Honor Society. The award, announced annually in conjunction with National Law Day, was created by the Commission with support from the Wisconsin State Bar’s pro bono program to honor lawyers who have performed at least 50 hours of qualifying pro bono legal services during the past calendar year. Mr. West, who also received the honor in 2013 and 2014, routinely represents veterans without charge before the US Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.
On December 14, 2016, Judge Mary Schoelen of the US Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC) issued a memorandum decision granting the appeal of Amanda Thompson, a Wisconsin widow represented by West & Dunn. Ms. Thompson currently serves as a substitute party for her husband, James Thompson, who passed away during the pendency of his claim for veterans disability benefits.
In its decision, the Court held that the Board of Veterans Appeals failed to provide adequate reasons and bases for its determination that the US Department of Veterans Affairs properly addressed the evidence submitted in support of Mr. Thompson's claim. In particular, the Court found that Board failed to address the frequency, duration, and severity of symptoms reported by Mr. Thompson through-out his appeal, as well as the impact that those symptoms may have had upon his life both socially and professionally.
As a result, the Court vacated the Board's decision, remanding the matter with instructions to the Board to address the case in a manner consistent with the applicable law.
The full decision is available through the court's website at this link: Thompson v. McDonald, Vet. App. No. 15-1623.