On July 21, 2016, the American College of Trial Lawyers filed a petition with the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims seeking an order requiring the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to eliminate unconstitutional delays in the VA appeals system. The Petitioner has asked the Court to hold that the VA’s delay in processing appeals violates the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and is contrary to the Secretary’s statutory duties.

Congress, the press and others have been complaining for years about delays in the VA appeals process. The facts presented in the Petition are shocking: Veterans wait four years for appeals, during which time many of them die. The facts also reveal that 20 veterans commit suicide on a daily basis; that’s 7,300 veterans annually.

The Petition also points out that 76 percent of veterans who are denied benefits win their appeals, but only after waiting four years; during this time they often do not receive necessary medical care, and may not even have enough money to buy food.

As noted in the Petition, the U.S. has made a solemn commitment to individuals who serve in the Armed Forces: a promise to provide appropriate benefits to individuals who become injured in service and to the families who support them. However, taking four years to process an appeal is disgraceful.

The American College of Trial Lawyers, which is composed of trial attorneys selected from the top one percent of trial lawyers in their state, is a leading advocate for improvements in the administration of justice in the United States. The pro bono lawsuit filed by the ACTL shows that the legal community is taking action, without charge, to force the VA to act in a timely fashion and stop violating the rights of veterans. Please invite veterans to join the Petition; interested veterans may obtain information about joining by contacting veteranspetition@wc.com.