WVU Veterans Advocacy Clinic Students Earn Federal Court Victories for Two American Heroes

Students in the WVU Veterans Advocacy Clinic (VAC) have successfully represented two American veterans in two different appeals before the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC).  The VAC represents both of these veterans as a result of its partnership with the Washington, DC-based Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Program.

In the Fall 2016 Semester, two student teams represented United States Air Force Veteran Thomas R. Wooten in an expedited appeal before the CAVC.  The student attorneys argued on appeal that the Board of Veterans Appeals had erred in not finding that Mr. Wooten was entitled to an earlier effective date for the payment of special monthly compensation (SMC) due to his extensive service-connected disabilities.  The CAVC agreed and, on September 30, 2016, the Court granted the parties’ joint request to vacate and set aside the Board’s decision denying Mr. Wooten’s claim. The VAC student teams continue to provide pro bono legal assistance to Mr. Wooten on his SMC claims before the agency on remand.

The same VAC student teams also represent United States Air Force Veteran Donald R. Middleton before the CAVC.  The student attorneys argued on appeal that the Board of Veterans Appeals erred by not finding that Mr. Middleton was entitled to service-connected disability compensation for significant nervous system disorders that he developed as a result of his exposure to Agent Orange and other herbicides while serving in Thailand during the Vietnam War.  The students further asserted that the Board failed to provide an adequate statement of reasons or bases for denying Mr. Middleton a VA medical examination.  On Thursday, January 12, 2017, counsel for the VA conceded that the Board’s decision denying Mr. Middleton’s service-connected claim should be vacated and that the case should be remanded to the Board for further adjudication. The VAC students will continue to represent Mr. Middleton on remand.

The 3L Veterans Advocacy Clinic students who have successfully represented veterans Mr. Wooten and Mr. Middleton on their VA service-connected disability claims before the CAVC are C.J. Reid, Kirsten Lilly, James Dorsey, and Rachel Roush.  Please join me in extending a huge thank you to C.J., Kirsten, James, and Rachel for their dedication to—and hard work on behalf of—our veteran heroes in need of legal assistance.