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Saturday, May 18, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Groups Lack Standing|to Challenge VA Delays

(CN) - Two veterans advocacy groups lack standing to sue the Department of Veterans Affairs for allegedly taking too long to process veterans' claims, the D.C. Circuit ruled.

To establish standing, the Vietnam Veterans of America and the Veterans of Modern Warfare had to show that at least one of their members was injured by the allegedly long processing time.

The associations offered the affidavits of members whose cases were pending as evidence that the VA's average processing time was much too long.

"But the average processing time does not cause affiants injury; it is only their processing time that is relevant," Senior Circuit Judge Laurence Silberman wrote for the three-judge panel in Washington, D.C. (original emphasis).

"If, for example, affiants fell at the quick-processing end of the bell-shaped curve, a high average processing time would be irrelevant to them, and to reverse the analysis, a low average would not avoid injury if affiants were at the other end of the curve.

"In sum, assuming the alleged illegality - that the average processing time at each stage is too long - that 'illegality' does not cause the affiants injury," Silberman concluded. "And causation is a necessary element of standing."

The federal appeals court upheld the district court's dismissal of the case, saying the plaintiffs "cannot have standing in federal court by asserting an injury to someone else."

"It seems the district judge intuited this point by noting the claims were 'not monolithic,'" Silberman added.

The advocacy groups wanted a court order forcing the VA to resolve claims within 180 days.

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