The UB School of Law Bob Parsons Veterans Advocacy Clinic (VAC) has three recent case wins to share with the community. Here are summaries written by Katy Clemens, clinical teaching fellow in the clinic.
In the first case, the VAC won disability benefits for a veteran whose right leg was amputated due to VA medical treatment that was negligent. We started with this case at the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, where student-attorneys Brendan Loughran, J.D. ’19, and Justin Hoy, J.D. ’19, served as lead counsel and won a remand of the case back to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals due to errors in the Board’s decision.
Student-attorneys Calvin Riorda, J.D. ’20, and Erin Cullinan, J.D. ’20, took over before the Board, obtained a crucial medical opinion for the veteran, and drafted a brief arguing the case to the Board. VA granted the claim in July 2020. Current VAC student Keith Rohr is now working with the client to appeal for a higher disability rating than the one assigned by VA, due to the client’s inability to work.
In the second case, VAC represented a UB student who served in Iraq and was stationed very close to an open burn pit for hazardous waste materials, and was not provided personal protection. Eventually, the veteran was diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia. VAC student-attorneys Riorda and current student Dalia Alezra won the veteran service-connected disability benefits for his leukemia, due to a medical opinion and brief arguing that it had been caused by exposure to the pollutants from the burn pit. Burn pit-related claims are a new and burgeoning area for VA, and this August 2020 decision may help future veterans.
In the third case, VAC has been representing the veteran for four years on a variety of claims. In a September 2020 decision, VA granted service-connected disability benefits for chronic fungal infection of the veteran’s feet due to lengthy periods of time in boots in the desert during deployment, as well as a chronic shoulder disability caused by a serious fall on active duty. The veteran was ably represented first at the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims by student-attorneys Shane Nolan, J.D. ’19, and Ashley Aguilar, J.D. ’20, who won a remand back to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, and then at the Board by student-attorney Alyssa Smith, who obtained a medical nexus opinion and drafted the brief.
These are just some of the victories student-attorneys in UB Law’s nationally renowned clinics have achieved. Even in this pandemic, their work continues unabated.