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Should PACER Fees Pay for Flat-screens?

Say the government used money paid to access court information to buy flat-screen monitors — would that violate federal law? That’s the accusation in a lawsuit against the United States of America, that takes aim specifically at the U.S. Administrative Office and its Public Access to Court Records Electronic System, otherwise known as PACER. [more]

Released 4/26/16 | Tags: Class Actions

Bill to Protect Combat-Injured Veterans Severance Payments Passes Senate Finance Committee

U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner’s (D-VA) legislation to ensure that veterans who suffer service-ending combat-related injuries are not improperly taxed on the severance payment they receive from the Department of Defense (DoD) has passed the Senate Finance Committee. Under federal law, veterans who suffer combat-related injuries and who are separated from the military are not supposed to be taxed on the one-time lump sum disability severance payment they receive from DoD. Unfortunately, taxes on combat-related disability severance payments have nonetheless been withheld from qualifying veterans for a number of years, in part due to the limitations of DoD’s automated payment system. Veterans are typically unaware that their benefits were improperly reduced as a result of DoD’s actions. [more]

Released 4/26/16 | Tags: Congressional Legislation

‘Excessive’ PACER Fees Prompt Class Action Complaint

The government agency running the PACER system, which provides online access to federal court records, charges more fees than necessary to recoup its costs in providing its services, a complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia April 21 alleges. [more]

Released 4/25/16 | Tags: Class Actions

Court Rules for Veterans to Receive Medical Payments

The Veterans Administration has been forced by a U.S. Court of Appeals decision to take a giant step forward to help veterans with their health care. On Friday, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims voted unanimously to strike down a VA regulation that the VA had been using since 2009 to deny reimbursement requests from veterans who had to get emergency medical care outside the VA system. The court rebuked the VA’s reimbursement regulation and said it had unlawfully refused to fix the regulation. The VA had been specifically mandated to fix this regulation by Congress in 2009. The VA, by federal statute, is required to pay these claims. [more]

Released 4/25/16 | Tags: Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims

Class Action Lawsuit Challenges PACER Fees as Excessive

A class action lawsuit filed yesterday in federal court in Washington, D.C., challenges the fees charged by PACER, the federal courts’ online court records system, as excessive. The lawsuit seeks to obtain relief on behalf of “all individuals and entities who have paid fees for the use of PACER within the past six years, excluding class counsel and agencies of the federal government.” The lawsuit, filed by the Alliance for Justice, the National Veterans Legal Services Program and the National Consumer Law Center, claims that the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts is violating the E-Government Act of 2002, which mandates that the fees to access court records online cannot exceed the amount needed to maintain the system itself. [more]

Released 4/22/16 | Tags: Class Actions

Lawsuit accuses PACER of milking the public for cash in exchange for access

The federally run online court document access system known as PACER now finds itself listed on a federal docket. Its overseer, the US government, is a defendant in a proposed class-action lawsuit accusing the service of overcharging the public. The suit, brought by three nonprofits on Thursday, claims millions of dollars generated from a recent 25-percent increase in page fees are being illegally spent by the Administrative Office of the Courts (AO). The cost for access is 10 cents per page and up to $3 a document. Judicial opinions are free. This isn't likely to break the bank for some, but to others it adds up and can preclude access to public records. The National Consumer Law Center, the Alliance for Justice, and the National Veterans Legal Services Program also claim in the lawsuit that these fees are illegal because the government is charging more than necessary to keep the PACER system afloat (as is required by Congress) [more]

Released 4/22/16 | Tags: Class Actions

Bill Helping Combat-Wounded Vets Recoup Lost Severance Pay Advances

Lawmakers have advanced legislation that would reimburse veterans with combat-related injuries potentially thousands of dollars in lost severance pay. The Senate Finance Committee approved the 2016 Taxpayer Protection Act on Wednesday, which included an amendment requiring the Defense Department to pay back all veterans affected by the accounting error, going back as far as 1991. Veterans who had to medically retire from the military because of combat-related injuries during the last two decades have lost out on thousands of dollars in severance pay because the Defense Department improperly taxed those payments. [more]

Released 4/22/16 | Tags: Congressional Legislation

PACER Fees Unlawfully High, Nonprofits Say in New Class Action

The federal judiciary is overcharging users for access to the public online database of court records known as PACER, a group of nonprofits alleged in a class action filed on Thursday in Washington. The Public Access to Court Electronic Records system, known as PACER, generally charges users 10 cents per page for court records, with a maximum charge of $3 per record. The plaintiffs—National Veterans Legal Services Program, National Consumer Law Center and Alliance for Justice—claim the fees more than cover the cost of maintaining of the system, and that the extra money is used for unrelated expenses in violation of the federal E-Government Act of 2002. “This noncompliance with the E-Government Act has inhibited public understanding of the courts and thwarted equal access to justice,” the nonprofits argued, in a complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. [more]

Released 4/21/16 | Tags: Class Actions

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