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The cost of electronic access to US court filings is facing a major legal test of its own

The 10 cents a page that most people are charged to view documents in Pacer, an online database of papers filed by litigants in the US federal courts, doesn’t sound like much. But critics of the setup say this cost is just the beginning. Pacer, which stands for Public Access to Court Electronic Records, is a clunky system that doesn’t allow users to search for court papers by their content or look up filings across the web of district, bankruptcy, and circuit courts that make up the federal judiciary. And there’s little that outside developers can do about it. [more]

Released 10/14/16 | Tags: Class Actions

Legal Issues Facing Our Veterans

NVLSP attorney and Navy veteran Rick Spataro was interviewed by Legal Talk Network for their podcast on assisting veterans and the legal issues they face, along with Robert Liscord of Pine Tree Legal Assistance. They discuss the daily legal issues facing veterans and how the legal community is making strides in assisting #veterans. [more]

Released 9/19/16 | Tags: Staff, Veteran's Benefits

Ogletree Snags Ex-Morgan Lewis Employment Pro In Dallas

Ogletree Deakins Nash Smoak & Stewart PC announced Tuesday that it has snagged a former Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP labor and employment partner to join its Dallas office, expanding the firm's litigation capabilities. Ellen Perlioni, who is joining the firm as an of counsel attorney after more than eight years with Morgan Lewis, told Law360 on Tuesday that it was after a friend from law school approached her with the opportunity that she first considered switching firms and moving to Ogletree Deakins. She's also worked with the National Veterans Legal Services Program doing advocacy work for veterans to receive combat-related special compensation. [more]

Released 8/9/16 | Tags: Supporters

PACER Users Urge DC Court To Allow Pricing Complaint

A proposed class of PACER users on Friday urged a D.C. federal court not to toss claims that the federal court filing service is too expensive, arguing the government has misconstrued the complaint as concerning a billing code error, when it’s actually over the price of the service. The non-profit advocacy groups that regularly use PACER and seek to lead the proposed class, the National Veterans Legal Services Program, National Consumer Law Center and Alliance for Justice, pushed back on the federal government’s late June motion to dismiss the complaint by comparing its pricing gripe to that of a customer in a restaurant. [more]

Released 8/1/16 | Tags: Class Actions

Court rules that VA has been shortchanging veterans since 2009

A unanimous three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims struck down a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) regulation that VA had been relying upon since 2009 to deny reimbursement requests from veterans who incurred emergency medical care costs outside the VA healthcare system. "This is a major win for veterans, and their families," said Bart Stichman, joint executive director of NVLSP and one of the attorneys in the case. "Often veterans have to seek emergency medical care outside the VA healthcare system, and for years the VA has refused to reimburse these veterans for any of the expenses incurred simply because secondary insurance covered a portion of the medical bill. This practice has violated federal law since at least 2009. The court's ruling means the VA will have to amend the unlawful regulations it should have amended in 2009 and do right by these veterans. It's not just a win for one veteran. Veterans who have pending claims for reimbursement will benefit. Plus, veterans whose reimbursement requests were turned down years ago may now be able to get paid by claiming that the previous denial contained "clear and unmistakable error." [more]

Released 7/17/16 | Tags: Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, Veteran's Benefits

Veterans clinic files rulemaking petition on access for veterans with ‘bad-paper’ discharges

More than 125,000 veterans who have served since 9/11 are denied access to basic services like health care by the Department of Veterans Affairs, according to a report by the Veterans Legal Clinic at the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School. The report, “Underserved,” presents new findings about how the VA’s regulations exclude hundreds of thousands of veterans with “bad-paper” discharges, contrary to the text and intent of the 1944 G.I. Bill of Rights, which established the current VA eligibility standard. The clinic issued the report on behalf of two veterans advocacy organizations, Swords to Plowshares and the National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP). “Congress meant for the VA to provide basic services to nearly all the men and women who served in uniform,” said Dana Montalto, an attorney and Liman Fellow in the Veterans Legal Clinic. “Yet, the VA’s regulations have operated to exclude more and more veterans from getting the care and support that they deserve.” [more]

Released 7/12/16 | Tags: Discharges

Politics and Cost Wrongly Influence VA Decisions on Agent Orange Vet Benefits

Last year, a group of federal scientists was debating whether as many as 2,100 Air Force veterans should qualify for cash benefits for ailments they claimed stemmed from flying aircraft contaminated by Agent Orange. An outside panel of experts had already determined that the scientific evidence showed the vets were likely exposed to the toxic herbicide. The scientists within the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs agreed the airmen had a strong case. But they had a more calculated concern: If the VA doled out cash to these veterans, others might want it too, according to an internal document obtained by ProPublica and The Virginian-Pilot. Bart Stichman, co-executive director of the National Veterans Legal Services Program, which has tangled with the VA in court on numerous Agent Orange-related issues, comments in the story. [more]

Released 6/17/16 | Tags: Agent Orange, Veteran's Benefits

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