Updated Jan. 10, 2007


The UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR VETERANS CLAIMS ruling (the "Ribaudo Ruling") on January 9, 2007 ordered the Department of Veteran Affairs to cease their "hold" on claims regarding the Haas Ruling, and to immediately begin processing current claims in the order they were submitted and to accept and act on new claims.

In part, the Decision reads: " The Secretary will proceed to process the appeals that were stayed in accordance with that UNLAWFUL MEMORANDUM in regular order according to [their] place on the docket" and will apply this Court's decision in Haas to those appeals.

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WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
A Statement from Rick Spataro, Staff Attorney for the National Veterans Legal Services Program regarding this new Ribaudo Ruling:

"The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has granted the VA a 30-day extension for filing their brief in Haas. It is now due on February 7, 2007.

The [Ribaudo] decision is really good news with a minor caveat. First, the Court ordered the VA rescind the Board of Veterans’ Appeals’ memorandum that imposed a stay on all Haas-like claims. The Board is also required to process those claims which are at the Board in their regular docket order. Although the Board does not need to put the blue water cases at the front of the line, they are now treated like other appeals. The Board is also required to apply the Haas decision to those claims – so now most blue-water veterans will receive the presumption of Agent Orange exposure.

Here is the caveat – the Court still left the door open for the VA to follow established procedures and request a stay of the Haas decision pending its appeal. If the VA were to ask for the stay, and convince either the Veterans Court or the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit that such a stay were warranted, the VA would be able to continue to avoid adjudicating blue water claims in accordance with Haas. Also, the VA previously indicated its intent to appeal an outcome such as this (in Ribaudo) to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

Now we wait and see what actions the VA takes in response to the Ribaudo decision."
Rick

Richard V. Spataro
Staff Attorney
National Veterans Legal Services Program
1600 K Street, NW, Suite 500
Washington, DC 20006-2833

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Download a full copy of the Ribaudo Ruling HERE

Visit the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims HERE


Updated Jan. 19, 2007


The Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) issued a press release on January 11, 2007 applauding the Ribaudo Ruling HERE


Update Posted December 15, 2006


A December 11 letter from Bradley G. Mayes, Acting Director, Compensation & Pension Service is available to review at VAWatchDog.org addressing issues of the Blue Water Navy and the recent Haas Ruling and how claims are to be handled.


Update Posted December 7, 2006


A note From Rick Spataro to Sue Belanger

Hi Susie,

You may post the following:

The Secretary’s brief is due to be filed in the Haas appeal on January 8. Our brief will be due to be filed 40 days after the Secretary’s brief is served on us. The Secretary then may file a reply brief 14 days after that. Therefore, the briefing will likely be completed by early March, but there is a small possibility that either party may ask for, and be granted, extensions for those filings. The Court will then likely schedule oral argument and, after it hears the argument, issue a decision. The decision will likely be issued several months after the oral argument. We will almost certainly post something on our site once a decision is issued.

Sincerely,

Rick

Richard V. Spataro
Staff Attorney
National Veterans Legal Services Program
1600 K Street, NW, Suite 500
Washington, DC 20006-2833



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