Veterans Await Decision|In Class Action Against VA

     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – Here are links to transcripts of the federal class action trial, Veterans for Common Sense v. the U.S. Veterans Administration. In closing arguments, plaintiffs’ attorneys demanded that the VA come up with a plan to reduce claims-processing times, which under the present system can be as long as 10 years. They asked Judge Samuel Conti to appoint a Special Master to oversee this.

     Attorneys for the administration said the solution is not that easy. Daniel Bensing, representing the Veterans Administration, said that unlike the plaintiffs, who “would like to wave a magic wand and make things happen, in the real world we cannot work miracles.”
     Bensing cited the substantial increase in claims submitted, the increasing complexity of claims, the need to gather evidence of service-related stressors in claims of post-traumatic stress disorder, and funding problems. All, he said, are roadblocks to implementing the Mental Health Strategic Plan and improving veteran care.
     Bensing also claimed that the court is prohibited by regulations from ruling on many of the plaintiffs’ claims.
     The class action, filed in July 2007 by Veterans for Common Sense and Veterans United for Truth, claims the VA has failed to meet “our nation’s legal and moral obligations to honor and care for our wounded veterans who have served our country.”
     Plaintiffs cite a backlog of more than 600,000 claims, which forces some veteran to wait as long as 10 years for their claim to be fully decided.
     Judge Conti echoed Bensing’s theme in his request for post-trial memoranda from both parties, regarding jurisdiction in the case. Conti said he wants to know “what I can do, what I can’t do … by way of statutes, binding regulations and case law.” Judge Conti said he will review the briefs and make a decision sometime in the next few months.
     Morrison & Foerster represented the plaintiffs pro bono in this bench trial.
     The icon provides a link to the transcript of the first day of the trial. Here are trial transcripts for the remaining days: April 22; April 23; April 24; April 28; April 29; and April 30.

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