Tag: Courts

FedCir; Regents is an application of the APA’s “arbitrary, capricious” standard of review, 5 U.S.C. § 706(2)(A), and this case is governed by 38 U.S.C. § 7261(a)(3)(A), which uses the same “arbitrary, capricious” language; we have used APA jurisprudence in applying the Title 38 provision. See Euzebio v. McDonough, 989 F.3d 1305, 1322–23 (Fed. Cir. 2021) (“The Veterans Court must also review Board and VA determinations for ‘abuse of discretion’ and ‘arbitrary [and] capricious’ decision making, including whether the Board or VA[] entirely failed to consider an important aspect of the problem . . . .” (quoting 38 U.S.C. § 7261(a)(3)(A) and State Farm, 463 U.S. at 43)); see also Henderson ex rel. Henderson v. Shinseki, 562 U.S. 428, 432 n.2 (2011) (“[T]he Veterans Court’s scope of review, § 7261, is similar to that of an Article III court reviewing agency action under the [APA] . . . .”); Whether an agency has failed to address an important aspect of a problem, and is arbitrary and capricious for that reason, can turn on the specific statutes and regulations that govern the agency, see Oregon Natural Re-sources Council v. Thomas, 92 F.3d 792, 798 (9th Cir.1996), but that does not distinguish 38 U.S.C. § 7261 from 5 U.S.C. § 706;

FedCir; Regents is an application of the APA’s “arbitrary, capricious” standard of review, 5 U.S.C. § 706(2)(A), and this case is governed by 38 U.S.C. § 7261(a)(3)(A), which uses the same “arbitrary, capricious” language; we have used APA jurisprudence in applying the Title 38 provision. See Euzebio v. McDonough, 989 F.3d 1305, 1322–23 (Fed. Cir. 2021) (“The Veterans Court must also review Board and VA determinations for ‘abuse of discretion’ and ‘arbitrary [and] capricious’ decision making, including whether the Board or VA[] entirely failed to consider an important aspect of the problem . . . .” (quoting 38 U.S.C. § 7261(a)(3)(A) and State Farm, 463 U.S. at 43)); see also Henderson ex rel. Henderson v. Shinseki, 562 U.S. 428, 432 n.2 (2011) (“[T]he Veterans Court’s scope of review, § 7261, is similar to that of an Article III court reviewing agency action under the [APA] . . . .”); Whether an agency has failed to address an important aspect of a problem, and is arbitrary and capricious for that reason, can turn on the specific statutes and regulations that govern the agency, see Oregon Natural Re-sources Council v. Thomas, 92 F.3d 792, 798 (9th Cir.1996), but that does not distinguish 38 U.S.C. § 7261 from 5 U.S.C. § 706;

FedCir; Regents is an application of the APA’s “arbitrary, capricious” standard of review, 5 U.S.C. § 706(2)(A), and this case is governed by 38 U.S.C. § 7261(a)(3)(A), which ...

The examination report must include • an up-to-date, brief, medical and industrial history from the date of discharge or last examination • a record of subjective complaints • a complete description of objective findings, stated in concrete terms • a diagnosis for each described condition[] • answer(s) to any question specifically included in the examination request • opinions specifically requested in the exam request • a diagnosis or notation that a chronic disease or disability was ruled out for each disability, complaint, or symptom listed on the examination request, and • the clinical findings required by the rating schedule for the evaluation of the specific disability being claimed. (For example, if a joint is being examined, the range of motion in degrees should be noted as part of the examination. If a cardiovascular condition is being examined, the metabolic equivalent expanded before fatigue, chest pain, and so on, result should be expressed.); M21-1MR, pt. III, subpt. iv, ch. 3, sec. D(f); In response to the Court’s inquiry, counsel for the Secretary stated that this provision is intended to assist VA adjudicators in determining what constitutes a sufficient report of examination for compensation and pension purposes, but conceded that a particular VA medical record may still qualify as a “report of examination” under § 3.157(b)(1) even if it is not as detailed as required by this M21-1MR provision.;

The examination report must include • an up-to-date, brief, medical and industrial history from the date of discharge or last examination • a record of subjective complaints • a complete description of objective findings, stated in concrete terms • a diagnosis for each described condition[] • answer(s) to any question specifically included in the examination request • opinions specifically requested in the exam request • a diagnosis or notation that a chronic disease or disability was ruled out for each disability, complaint, or symptom listed on the examination request, and • the clinical findings required by the rating schedule for the evaluation of the specific disability being claimed. (For example, if a joint is being examined, the range of motion in degrees should be noted as part of the examination. If a cardiovascular condition is being examined, the metabolic equivalent expanded before fatigue, chest pain, and so on, result should be expressed.); M21-1MR, pt. III, subpt. iv, ch. 3, sec. D(f); In response to the Court’s inquiry, counsel for the Secretary stated that this provision is intended to assist VA adjudicators in determining what constitutes a sufficient report of examination for compensation and pension purposes, but conceded that a particular VA medical record may still qualify as a “report of examination” under § 3.157(b)(1) even if it is not as detailed as required by this M21-1MR provision.;

Panel Application; the Veterans Benefits Administration Adjudication Procedures Manual (M21-1MR) are intended to describe the type of VA medical record that qualifies as a “report of examination.” In ...

Single Judge Application; the ultimate “lesson of our cases is that, while a pro se claimant’s ‘claim must identify the benefit sought,’ the identification need not be explicit in the claim-stating documents, but can also be found indirectly through examination of evidence to which those documents themselves point when sympathetically read.” Shea v. Wilkie, 926 F.3d 1362, 1368–69 (Fed. Cir. 2019). Here, the claim-stating documents pointed, when sympathetically viewed, to a history of symptoms of abdominal pain that yielded a diagnosis of gastritis. And that’s not all. The veteran’s gastritis was expressly linked to service by VA’s own medical examiner—in the context of an examination sought by the Agency as part of the development of Mr. Martinelli’s other claims.; The Secretary says the veteran is out of his depth in suggesting to the Court that melatonin use indicates sleep issues. But even if that were true, the veteran retorts, the Secretary forgets the Court’s ability to take judicial notice of facts generally known. See Tagupa v. McDonald, 27 Vet.App. 95, 100-01 (2014). Indeed, one need look no further than a basic medical dictionary to conclude that his in-service prescription was favorable, material evidence. Melatonin is “a hormone . . . implicated in the regulation of sleep, mood, puberty, and ovarian cycles. It has been tried therapeutically for a number of conditions, including insomnia and jet lag.” DORLAND’S ILLUSTRATED MEDICAL DICTIONARY 1110 (33d ed. 2020). The Board has a responsibility to explain why it rejects favorable, material evidence. Garner v. Tran, 33 Vet.App. 241, 250 (2021).;

Single Judge Application; the ultimate “lesson of our cases is that, while a pro se claimant’s ‘claim must identify the benefit sought,’ the identification need not be explicit ...

Single Judge Application; deficient reasons and bases; It is the Board’s responsibility as factfinder to assess and weigh the evidence.18 Here, we simply do not know the weight, if any, the Board gave this evidence in assigning a rating for appellant’s GERD. It is important for the Board to make such a finding in the first instance.19 We recognize that the Secretary offers several arguments about why extraschedular referral is not warranted for appellant’s GERD. However, it is ultimately not his prerogative to provide an explanation that the Board did not. As we have often said, the Secretary cannot make up for the Board’s deficient statement of reasons or bases.20; 19 See Tadlock v. McDonough, 5 F.4th 1327, 1337-38 (Fed. Cir. 2021) (“Where additional findings of fact are necessary regarding mattes open to debate, the proper action is for the Veterans Court is to remand to the Board for consideration of those facts in the first instance.”).; 20 See In re Lee, 277 F.3d 1338, 1345-46 (Fed. Cir. 2002) (“‘[C]ourts may not accept appellate counsel’s post hoc rationalization for agency action.’” (quoting Burlington Truck Lines, Inc. v. United States, 371 U.S. 156, 168 (1962))); McCray v. Wilkie, 31 Vet.App. 243, 258 (2019) (“[T]he Secretary’s impermissible post-hoc rationalization cannot make up for shortcomings in the Board’s assessment.”); Simmons v. Wilkie, 30 Vet.App. 267, 277 (2018) (holding that the “Court cannot accept the Secretary’s post-hoc rationalizations” to cure the Board’s reasons-or-bases errors), aff’d, 964 F.3d 1381 (Fed. Cir. 2020); Smith v. Nicholson, 19 Vet.App. 63, 73 (2015) (“[I]t is not the task of the Secretary to rewrite the Board’s decision through his pleadings filed in this Court.”).;

Single Judge Application; deficient reasons and bases; It is the Board’s responsibility as factfinder to assess and weigh the evidence.18 Here, we simply do not know the weight, if any, the Board gave this evidence in assigning a rating for appellant’s GERD. It is important for the Board to make such a finding in the first instance.19 We recognize that the Secretary offers several arguments about why extraschedular referral is not warranted for appellant’s GERD. However, it is ultimately not his prerogative to provide an explanation that the Board did not. As we have often said, the Secretary cannot make up for the Board’s deficient statement of reasons or bases.20; 19 See Tadlock v. McDonough, 5 F.4th 1327, 1337-38 (Fed. Cir. 2021) (“Where additional findings of fact are necessary regarding mattes open to debate, the proper action is for the Veterans Court is to remand to the Board for consideration of those facts in the first instance.”).; 20 See In re Lee, 277 F.3d 1338, 1345-46 (Fed. Cir. 2002) (“‘[C]ourts may not accept appellate counsel’s post hoc rationalization for agency action.’” (quoting Burlington Truck Lines, Inc. v. United States, 371 U.S. 156, 168 (1962))); McCray v. Wilkie, 31 Vet.App. 243, 258 (2019) (“[T]he Secretary’s impermissible post-hoc rationalization cannot make up for shortcomings in the Board’s assessment.”); Simmons v. Wilkie, 30 Vet.App. 267, 277 (2018) (holding that the “Court cannot accept the Secretary’s post-hoc rationalizations” to cure the Board’s reasons-or-bases errors), aff’d, 964 F.3d 1381 (Fed. Cir. 2020); Smith v. Nicholson, 19 Vet.App. 63, 73 (2015) (“[I]t is not the task of the Secretary to rewrite the Board’s decision through his pleadings filed in this Court.”).;

Single Judge Application; deficient reasons and bases; It is the Board’s responsibility as factfinder to assess and weigh the evidence.18 Here, we simply do not know the weight, ...