The Veteran Activist


Filed 23 July 07 - CLASS ACTION LAW SUIT MOVES FORWARD

VETERANS FOR COMMON SENSE

11 Jan 08 - Lawsuit Approved to Move Forward

This CLASS ACTION LAW SUIT, filed with the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California on July 23, 2007, opens, in part, as follows:

1. This lawsuit stems from the shameful failures of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”) and other governmental institutions to meet our nation’s legal and moral obligations to honor and care for our wounded veterans who have served our country. Because of those failures, hundreds of thousands of men and women who have suffered grievous injuries fighting in the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are being abandoned. Unless systemic and drastic measures are instituted immediately, the costs to these veterans, their families, and our nation will be incalculable, including broken families, a new generation of unemployed and homeless veterans, increases in drug abuse and alcoholism, and crushing burdens on the health care delivery system and other social services in our communities. ' The entire Filing can be reviewed at http://www.mindfully.org/Health/2007/Iraq-Veterans-v-VA23jul07.htm

7 Aug 07 - Additional information at Disability Rights Advocate site
and at Military.com

4 Sept 07 - Link to VA Memo to employees regarding this lawsuit from Kelley's site. Memo dated August 21, 2007

5 Oct 07 - Link to Veterans for Common Sense

7 Oct 07 - VA's Motion to Dismiss

11 Jan 08 - Class Action Law Suit Moves Forward

28 Mar 08 - Veterans for Common Sense Flyer


Monsanto Contamination Class Action Law Suit

12 Jan 08 - Monsanto contaminant suit now class action

NITRO, W.Va., Jan. 11 Residents of Nitro, W. Va., and surrounding areas can sue Monsanto Co. as a group over alleged contamination of the town, a judge has ruled.

The combined suits cite alleged damage to residential properties and local streams with dioxin from the company's former chemical plant.

Originally two suits, they were combined by Judge O.C. Spaulding as class action suits earlier in the week, the Charleston (W. Va.) Gazette reported.

One case involves thousands of current and former residents of the town of Nitro, while the other includes owners of about 100 properties in the Manila and Heizer Creek areas north of town.

The lawsuits allege that Monsanto polluted the area with cancer-causing dioxin during production of the Vietnam-era herbicide known as Agent Orange.

Copyright 2008 by UPI - Please see original posting at http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/172523.html AND http://sundaygazettemail.com/section/News/2008011116?pt=0


CLASS ACTION LAW SUIT - LOST Agent Orange - filed in New York

THIS SUIT WAS LOST BY THE COURT RULING AGAINST THE PLAINTIFFS on February 22, 2008. The Court Ruling can be found here.

ORIGINAL POSTING
Here is a current class action lawsuit being argued by Gerson Smoger in up-state New York.. I'll try to get more details. Part of the suit is brought forward for Vietnam veterans.... Other clients include Vietnamese citizens.

http://www.agentorangelaw.net/aagent_orange_lawsuit.htm


Sept 4 Update
Check this Fund for Reconciliation and Development site for continuous updates of status


June 12 Update

This update was provided by Dr. Gerson Smoger this afternoon to help everyone keep updated on the class action suit he has filed.

To update you on the status of the Agent Orange litigation, in 2005 Judge Weinstein dismissed all cases brought on behalf of Vietnam veterans for exposure to Agent Orange. Judge Weinstein, who has presided over all Agent Orange cases since 1983, held that the chemical manufacturers were not liable for the injuries caused by Agent Orange, because they were required to make Agent Orange for use in Vietnam. We strongly disagree with this conclusion, as we feel we have overwhelming evidence that the manufacturers actively bid for the lucrative government Agent Orange contracts, hid their knowledge of the dangers from the government, and had the ability to make a less toxic form of Agent Orange but chose not to do so for economic reasons. We are now in the process of appealing this dismissal to the Second Circuit. All of our briefing is completed and the argument before the Second Circuit will occur on June 18, 2007 in New York City. Of course, I cannot say when the Second Circuit will rule, but, until they do, as a result of Judge Weinstein's ruling, no cases for Vietnam veterans may proceed.
-- Dr. Gerson Smoger
Smoger & Associates, P.C.

PLEASE NOTE: This is a CIVIL ACTION lawsuit involving and referring to veterans filing suit against the chemical companies who manufactured Agent Orange. It has NOTHING to do with any activities involving the VA and/or veteran compensation claims. - The Editors.

June 27 Update
The Court Hearing for this action took place on June 18, as scheduled. We will post the court's opinion when that becomes available. These documents are some of the legal briefs prepared for that hearing and may be of interest regarding those proceedings:

Isaacson v. Dow Final Main Brief

Stephenson v Dow Final Brief

Stephenson v Dow Final Reply Brief


AGENT ORANGE QUESTIONNAIRE FOR LIVING VETERAN
As of 15 May 07, Gerson Smoger and Associates were still taking class action applications from qualifying veterans. That process should go on at least until a settlement is reached. HOWEVER, they inform me they are NOT taking applications from "water-based personnel." That certainly sounds discriminatory to me.

Arguments are scheduled for June 18, 2007 in the Court Of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
Information Flyer for the event
Order of Arguments for June 18


VETERAN'S CLASS ACTION LAW SUIT AGAINST THE DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS

You can become part of this class action suit brought about by Gary Kendall in the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho by following the instructions found at the http://www.vetsforjustice.com/ web site.

Early joinders to this case received response from the court that the case was NOT YET a class action. Here is Gary Kendall's response to that:

The case is NOT YET a class action, but the notices do not state that the motioner can not join the litigation. The court clerk notices state that the motions are being kept on file pending either the motion of the originator (myself or representing attorneys) to make the case a class action or a determination by the court that joinder of complaints will be allowed.

UNTIL the court decides which avenue it wishes this case to proceed along - joinder of complaints or class action - it is best that persons keep motioning to join the litigation and push the court to determine that an expansion to class action is best.

Meanwhile, the case does have the attention of two sets of attorneys, a local firm of very good attorneys and a national group of attorneys who handle ONLY large class action litigations. Both are watching the growth of the numbers of persons who motion to join this case based upon just the Internet awareness advertisements.

The limited range Internet advertisement response will clearly indicate the numbers of persons interested in joining. Once the attorneys are on board, the case is publicly announced and advertisement of this litigation is done by additional means.

I would appreciate it if you would continue to encourage Veterans and family members to educate themselves about this litigation, to join the open membership Yahoo! Group vetsuesva to learn more, and to use the form there to motion to join this litigation.

I was at the court clerk's offices this afternoon and they are amazed at the numbers of Veterans and family members that have motioned to join this litigation. I have asked for a listing of the names and contacts of all the motioners. The judge will be considering that request. We all must gang up on this case and show the court and the attorneys that we mean business all the way to the US Supreme Court if necessary.

We need more Veterans and more family memebrs to motion to join this litigation. We need each one to email me or mail me their USPS delivery confirmation numbers and contact info for the final push to large group or class action.

We must have numbers of names involved to gain the attorneys' attention and make them realize just how huge the VA's violations of Veterans and family members civil rights really is! NUMBERS TALK!

If the Veterans and family members will not gather together on this civil rights litigation issue, no improvement will be seen in the VA this Congressional term! If they gather and add their names to this litigation by the dozens, we will see Congressional attention this term.

We have to get the word out to more Veterans and their immediate family members that each individual must send in their motion to join this litigation ASAP! The Veterans must file motion with the court, the spouse must file motion with the court, and any children (minor or adult) must file individual motion with the court.

Gary Kendall


The WALL - 25th Year Anniversary and Parade

The Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) is planning a 25th anniversary Parade in celebration of the dedication the "The Wall" on Saturday, Nov. 10, 2007. If you have a group, or as an individual are interested in joining the parade, then you must fill out an application form. To download a form, please visit www.vva.org or call toll free, 1-800-VVA-1316 x151.

The schedule: Saturday, Nov. 10, 2007: Opening Ceremony on the Mall: 10:00 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. At 3rd Street between Jefferson and Madison Drives. (Close to the National Gallery of Art and the Smithsonian's Air Space Museum.)

The Parade: 11:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. Immediately following the opening ceremony, the parade will begin. It'll include military vehicles, floats, veteran motorcyclists, marching bands.

VVA.org Web site:
http://vva.org/25thEvent/event_info.htm


PRO BONO LEGAL AID

The Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Program

Free attorneys for veterans and their qualifying family members who have an appeal pending at the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims


Lawyers Serving Warriors Pro Bono Program


Project Salute

UNIVERSITY OF DETROIT MERCY SCHOOL OF LAW LAUNCHES NATIONAL TOUR TO PROVIDE PRO BONO ASSISTANCE EXCLUSIVELY ON FEDERAL BENEFITS ISSUES TO VETERANS

National Tour Kicks off in Detroit where Assistance Began. School Asks Pro Bono Attorneys Around the Country to Assist Veterans


Big Law Firms Unite in Pro Bono Effort for Wounded Soldiers

http://www.nylawyer.com/display.php/file=/probono/news/07/061907a New York Lawyer Magazine
June 19, 2007
By Tresa Baldas
The National Law Journal

Wounded soldiers who allege that the government is downplaying their injuries and cheating them out of benefits have some new legal ammunition: three major law firms offering free legal services.

Concerned that injured soldiers are getting a raw deal upon returning home, three firms - Foley & Lardner; Atlanta's King & Spalding; annd New York's LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae - have offered to do pro bono work on behalf of veterans who are appealing low disability ratings made by the government.

Those ratings dictate how much money injured veterans are entitled to, along with any medical and retirement benefits.

Please see the entire article at http://www.nylawyer.com/display.php/file=/probono/news/07/061907a

Contacts at Foley & Lardner

Contacts at Dewey & LeBoeuf

Contacts at King & Spalding


When Duty Calls Program

No Cost Legal Services for Veteran Claims

Contact Womble Carlyle at Veterans@wcsr.com or call 747-6669.


16 June 07
Key Legal Problems:
- veterans cannot challenge their military service NOR the treatment they are provided by the Government following military service. - veterans are locked in a system created by the Department of Veterans Affairs which separates them out from the "ordinary citizen" in terms of holding medical service providers culpable for their actions. - veterans seeking compensation and benefits for military service must contend with a "legal system" apart from the "ordinary citizen" legal system. The system faced by the veteran is self-monitored and only rarely overseen or challenged by any agency outside of the VA system itself.

Horrors of the VA System - Kelley here

the Feres Doctrine -->


How To Write an Effective Letter To a Politician

By ExIntrepid

(Note: Even though this is targeted to the Haas vs. Nicholson case, it is also of value as a "generic" guideline.
Link to Elected Officials)

What to Write:
When writing a politician the first time, for just about any reason, keep it short - about 3 or 4 paragraphs - or at most one or two pages. In our case, keep to just the one subject; Blue Water Navy vets. Don't be tempted to throw in your opinions on illegal immigration, taxes, abortion, or eminent domain laws. If you must write about them, do so in a separate letter.

You can use a template letter, but make sure to put each point IN YOUR OWN WORDS! I can't emphasize how important this is. Think about it; If you're working for a politician, reading mail, and you get 50 letters that are all identical, are you going to pay attention to who sent it? Or will you just begin counting them?

You can be as terse, or as chatty, as your own personality requires. A letter that isn't a cookie-cutter copy of 10 others has to be read and acknowledged to make sure they understand what it is about. The whole point of writing letters about Blue Water Navy Vietnam veterans and the Haas vs. Nicholson case is to get that politician or his staff to read and pay attention to it. If you have 50 letters from 50 different people worded individually, I think the politician's staff are going to sit up and take notice of them a lot more than 50 identical letters, with just a signature.

Somewhere in the letter, in no particular order, make sure to do the following:

Remember, don't write anything you wouldn't want to see with your name in the newspaper. Be polite, reasonable, courteous, and most of all, persuasive. Your goal should be to start a dialogue with the politician or his people if at all possible. Further down the line, your voice can be important in improving the DVA for all veterans.

Last, if I have to say it:

How to Write:
Hand-written letters:
Hand written letters, even after the Anthrax scare, have always carried the most weight and received the most individual attention. Politicians pay the most attention to voters who feel strongly enough about an issue to actually hand write a letter. Of course, it is important to make sure the politician can read it, so if you don't have good, clear handwriting, it may be better to print or type a letter. You should be aware that since the Anthrax thing, letters may take more than two weeks to get to the politician's office.

Typed or computer printed letters:
If you're like me, it's probably better to use a typewriter or computer to compose and print a letter. A computer, particularly, allows you go back and edit and re-edit until your letter is clear and concise. Just make sure to sign the letter clearly.

Faxes:
I strongly recommend that if you write a letter, you should mail it as opposed to faxing, if possible. Considering how many faxes a politician gets, I think it's quite possible that an individual faxed letter might get lost.

E-mails:
You can use google, or another search engine, to find the contact page of all House and Senate members, and they will usually have a contact form. Make sure to ask for a reply, and make sure to include your personal e-mail account. Avoid using blind accounts (like hotmail), for obvious reasons. You want him to reply to you, so that you can get a direct address to use further down the line. You should also avoid sending templates on web sites to communicate, because after his office sees a number of them they'll stop reading them and just count them, if they even to that far.

Since the Anthrax scare, e-mails are actually more likely than before to be read and acted on as opposed to just being counted. (The federal government finally discovered the joys of electronic filing and the "paperless office") On the other hand, because of the ease and low cost of using e-mail, politicians get a lot more of it than any other method. I've found it much more effective to get in touch by snail-mail or by phone, and have a person's name as a point of contact. Then you will be able to correspond with the person who has responsibility for your particular case or opinion instead of just e-mailing 'in the blind'.

Who you should write to:
Your Local Congressman:
Of course, the very best method of asking questions, getting help, or giving opinions is to actually make an appointment with the politician's office near you. If you are the veteran yourself, and you have an Agent Orange claim denied, pending, or deferred, you should phone, write, or make an appointment with your local congressman. (You know, the one you voted for, right? If you voted against him, maybe he can change your mind. If you're not a registered voter, become one!) It is his JOB to help you deal with the Department of Veteran's Affairs. I'm always amazed at the number of veterans I've spoken to who have not contacted their Congressman for help.

Make an appointment with the person who handles Veteran's problems with the DVA in that office, and go see them. You should bring all of the paperwork by you and from the DVA; your original claim letter, your DD-214, your service records (if you have a copy), and every piece of paper sent by the DVA to you.

As I said before, your Representative in the House has the responsibility and the power of the budget. They are the ones who originate the legislation that funds the DVA. Even if your Representative is not on one of the House committees responsible for Veterans or the Military spending, he knows someone who is. So, aside from direct help with the DVA, persuading him in the rightness of our cause will help influence legislation to correct the problem with the DVA, one way or another.

Your US Senators:
Like your Representative, one or both of your US Senators have people working for them who's primary responsibility is to help veterans with the DVA. Even if you are already getting help from your representative, you can also get help from your Senator(s) office dealing with the DVA. I wouldn't even mention one to the other, just on a 'more is better' principal.

While they do not control spending like the House, the Senate also makes laws, and persuading one or both of your Senators to sponsor legislation to correct or amend the Agent Orange Act to specifically include Blue Water Navy Vietnam veterans is a definite goal.

Also, besides legislation, the Senate has oversight through their standing committees, of Departments in the Executive branch of the government, to especially include the Department of Veteran's Affairs. An inquiry from a Senator into the wisdom of defying the Court of Appeals for Veteran's Claims can make even Secretary Nicholson pause to think. If we can get a number of Senators from both parties to look into Nicholson's politically negative decisions, he might be persuaded to drop the appeal to the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals. Furthermore, the Senate has a constitutional duty to "advise and counsel" the President on how he runs the Executive branch. Consider the effect of a bi-partisan group of Senators "advising" the President that his Secretary of Veteran's Affairs is "interpreting" law to save spending on the backs of war veterans. Perhaps they would "advise" the President that Nicholson's decisions will result in negative political consequences that both parties would really rather not have to deal with.

Finally, while less likely to get a reply, writing Senators on the various Veteran's or Military committees might generate enough interest as to get a response from these committees that will be useful to us. All it costs is a stamp, and it could make a difference. Why not?

Your President:
Writing a Letter to the President has the virtue of being simple, it just takes one letter. On the other hand, it's unlikely you will get the same kind of response that you might get from your congresscritters. On the third hand, Secretary Nicholson works directly for the President, and if enough complaints come in directed at him, the president might be persuaded to take steps to rein Nicholson in. Again, it's unlikely, but it is possible, and worth making the effort to contact him with our complaints. Again, all it can cost is a stamp, and every bit helps.

The Federal Circuit Court of Appeals:
To repeat what I've said elsewhere, unless you know a Professor of Constitutional Law, or someone who can file a 'Friend of the Court' brief in the Haas vs. Nicholson case, there isn't much we can do to effect the court case. On the other hand, if you DO know a Law Professor or an interest group who could file such a brief, then by all means use all of your powers of persuasion to convince them to do so!

Writing other interested parties:
After you have written your Congressman, your Senator(s), and possibly the President, consider who else might be persuaded to help us:

The goal here is to get the facts of our case out into the public eye, and perhaps, if it shows up in enough places, we will begin to draw enough attention to effect the outcome. It may not always be in our favor, but the more we can present our arguments, I can't help but think the more likely we will prevail.

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