This morning the Federal Circuit released two precedential opinions in separate cases appealed from the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. In the first precedential opinion, the Federal Circuit affirms the Veterans Court’s denial of a request to exclude certain payments in calculating a veteran’s non-service-connected pension. In the second precedential opinion, the Federal Circuit affirms the Veterans Court’s conclusion that a veteran is barred from receiving reimbursement for specific medical treatment. The Federal Circuit also released a nonprecedential opinion in another veterans case appealed from the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. Finally, the Federal Circuit released a nonprecedential order denying a petition for a writ of mandamus seeking to transfer an appeal from the Western District of Texas to the Eastern District of Michigan. Here are the introductions to the opinions and text from the order.
Cooper v. McDonough (Precedential)
Robert Cooper appeals a decision by the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (Veterans Court) affirming a decision by the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (Board) that denied Mr. Cooper’s request to exclude state unemployment compensation payments from his annual income for purposes of calculating his non-service-connected (NSC) pension. The Veterans Court found that unemployment compensation payments are not excluded from a veteran’s annual income under an exception for “donations from public or private relief or welfare organizations.” 38 U.S.C. § 1503(a)(1). Because we agree that state unemployment compensation payments are not “donations,” we affirm.
Van Dermark v. McDonough (Precedential)
Peter Van Dermark is a veteran with a service-connected disability recognized by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). While abroad, he received medical treatment from a non-VA source for conditions not derived from that disability. By assumption here, the treatment was emergency treatment. Mr. Van Dermark filed claims with VA asking it to pay for his treatment, under 38 U.S.C. § 1728 (enacted in 1973) and § 1725 (enacted in 1999), either by paying those who treated him or by paying him (reimbursing him) for what he had paid or owed them. VA’s Office of Community Care denied both claims, the Board of Veterans’ Appeals maintained the denials, and the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (Veterans Court) affirmed the Board’s decision. Van Dermark v. McDonough, 34 Vet. App. 204, 206 (2021).
The basis of the denial was 38 U.S.C. § 1724, which, as relevant here, took its current form in 1958, based on a 1940 statute containing the key phrase now in dispute. Specifically, the Veterans Court, like VA, relied on § 1724(a), which prohibits VA from “furnish[ing] hospital . . . care or medical services” abroad, except in limited circumstances concededly not present here. On Mr. Van Dermark’s appeal, we agree with the Veterans Court that the “furnishing” phrase encompasses the payment for a veteran’s hospital care or medical expenses abroad at issue here, making the § 1724(a) prohibition applicable, and that §§ 1728 and 1725 do not override that prohibition. We therefore affirm.
Goffney v. McDonough (Nonprecedential)
Tara R. Goffney appeals from a remand order of the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (“Veterans Court”). The remand order instructed the Board to “address the correct facts and law in the first instance,” after setting aside a Board decision holding that Goffney was not entitled to attorney fees. See Goffney v. McDonough, No. 19-4394, 2021 WL 1096379 (Vet. App. Mar. 23, 2021) (“Decision”). We dismiss.
In re General Motors Co. (Nonprecedential Order)
General Motors Company and General Motors LLC (collectively, “GM”) petition for a writ of mandamus directing the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas to transfer this case to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. Intellectual Ventures I LLC and Intellectual Ventures II LLC (collectively, “IV”) oppose the petition.
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We cannot say that such a clear abuse of discretion occurred here. The district court considered and weighed each of the relevant factors and made reasonable factual findings based on the record before it. The court found, among other things, that there were GM employees in the Western District of Texas with relevant and material information; the evidence stored electronically on data centers in Michigan can be accessed by GM from its offices in the Western District; the Western District could compel the testimony of potential third-party witnesses, including inventor testimony; and the Western District’s local interest in this matter extended beyond GM’s mere presence in the district. Mindful of the standard of review, we are not prepared to disturb the district court’s findings, which provide a plausible basis for the conclusion that GM failed to demonstrate that litigating this case in the transferee forum would be clearly more convenient.
IT IS ORDERED THAT:
The petition is denied.