This morning the Federal Circuit released two precedential opinions. The first opinion comes in a veterans case and addresses the prejudicial error analysis conducted by the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. The second opinion comes in an international trade case and addresses a tariff classification. Finally, the court late in the day yesterday released two nonprecedential orders dismissing cases. Here are the introductions to the opinions and orders.
Slaughter v. McDonough (Precedential)
Billy W. Slaughter served on active duty in the United States Navy for two decades from August 1975 to August 1995. J.A. 3. In June 2008, a Veterans Affairs (“VA”) Regional Office determined that Mr. Slaughter, who is righthanded, suffered right ulnar nerve entrapment as a result of his service. J.A. 44. VA awarded him a 10% disability rating under 38 C.F.R. § 4.124a, Diagnostic Code (“DC”) 8516. J.A. 44; J.A. 35. Over the next several years, Mr. Slaughter pursued a higher disability rating. During those proceedings, which included several VA medical examinations, examiners additionally diagnosed Mr. Slaughter with a median nerve injury that has not been found to be connected to his military service. J.A. 3–5.
Eventually, in December 2018, the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (“Board”) increased Mr. Slaughter’s rating for right ulnar nerve entrapment to 40%. J.A. 32, 38. The Board found that it could not distinguish the symptoms of Mr. Slaughter’s service-connected ulnar nerve entrapment from those of his non-service-connected median nerve injury. J.A. 38. It, thus, attributed the entirety of the disability to the service-connected right ulnar nerve injury and awarded Mr. Slaughter a 40% disability rating for severe incomplete paralysis of his right hand under DC 8516. J.A. 38. The Board determined that it would be inappropriate to rate Mr. Slaughter under DC 8512, which provides ratings for injuries to the lower radicular group,3 because only Mr. Slaughter’s ulnar nerve entrapment was connected to his service. J.A. 38.
On appeal, the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (“Veterans Court”) affirmed the Board’s decision. J.A. 2–3. The Veterans Court never addressed Mr. Slaughter’s substantive argument that his disability should have been rated under DC 8512. Rather, it found that Mr. Slaughter had not shown prejudice stemming from the Board’s alleged error in failing to consider a rating under DC 8512. J.A. 7–8.
Mr. Slaughter appeals from the Veterans Court’s decision. As we explain below, we have jurisdiction to hear his appeal under 38 U.S.C. § 7292(c).
Although we hold that the Veterans Court legally erred in its prejudicial error analysis, that error was itself harmless because the Board correctly interpreted § 4.124a. Thus, we affirm.
Starkist Co. v. United States (Precedential)
StarKist Co. challenges a tariff classification of four imported tuna salad products under subheading 1604.14.10 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States. We affirm.
Ideal Industries Lighting LLC v. International Trade Commission (Nonprecedential Order)
The parties having so agreed, it is ordered that:
(1) The proceedings are DISMISSED under Fed. R. App. P. 42 (b).
(2) Each side shall bear their own costs.
Bradley v. Merit Systems Protection Board (Nonprecedential Order)
Shamar Bradley having failed to file a motion pursuant to this court’s order dated February 11, 2022,
IT IS ORDERED THAT:
(1) This petition for review is dismissed.
(2) Each side shall bear its own costs.