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Covington Wins Historic Class Action Victory for Veterans

June 14, 2019

WASHINGTON—Today, for the first time in its history, the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims certified a class action and granted classwide relief to veterans.

Covington brought this class action petition in partnership with the National Veterans Legal Services Program. The landmark petition challenged the inexcusable delays by the Veterans Administration in processing appeals of benefit denials. The four class representatives, veterans of the United States Air Force, Army, Navy, and Marine Corps, each had been waiting over two years for the VA to advance their appeals to the next stage of review.

In granting the petition, the Court noted: "Ordinarily, the Court affords the Secretary great deference in how he chooses to run the day-to-day operations of the agency. But extraordinary circumstances call for extraordinary measures, and the Secretary's longstanding failure to remedy the unreasonable delays in accomplishing pre-certification review, resulting in claimants waiting in line for years with no action being taken by VA, has compelled the Court's intervention in this case." The Court ordered VA to process the appeals of all class members within 120 days.

Kate Cahoy, a Covington associate who argued the appeal, noted: "Today's decision, which allows veterans who endured delays before the Veterans Administration to secure relief on behalf of a class suffering from the same inexcusable conduct, cements the availability of an important tool for veterans to combat violations of their legal rights."

Ben Block, who led the team with fellow litigation partner Ranga Sudarshan, observed: "It is an honor and a privilege to represent these veterans. This is a historic victory and another proud chapter in Covington's legacy of advocating for those who served our country."

The Covington team also included associates John Niles and Isaac Belfer.

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