Womble Carlyle Attorneys Draft Pro Bono Brief in Support of Disabled Veterans
October 11, 2012
WILMINGTON, DEL.—Mark Desgrosseilliers and Ericka Johnson are taking a stand for our nation’s veterans. The two Womble Carlyle attorneys are offering their support—on a pro bono basis—of an effort to help disabled military veterans receive the benefits they earned through their service.
Desgrosseilliers and Johnson have co-authored an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court regarding a legal effort to have the U.S. Supreme Court decide the issue of whether veterans may have access to Article III courts in order to address systemic inefficiencies in the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) benefits process. For example, in the VA’s Wilmington, Del., Regional Office, 538 of 1,065 compensation claims have been pending for more than 125 days. In nearby Philadelphia, more than 60 percent of the 21,000 claims have been pending for the same length of time. The same trends, including an average wait time of 12-18 months, hold true for the vast majority of the 58 VA Regional Offices across the country. Moreover, if a benefit decision is appealed, veterans nationally can expect to wait on average three-and-a-half years for a final decision.
These systemic delays in the VA process are unfair to veterans who depend on these earned benefits to pay for basic living expenses. Further, the backlog is unlikely to shrink in the near future, as veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan seek VA assistance.
Two veterans advocacy groups—Veterans for Common Sense and Veterans United for Truth—have filed a lawsuit against the VA seeking to address the claims backlog and long waiting periods that plague many disabled veterans seeking VA assistance. The amicus brief co-written by Desgrosseilliers and Johnson is in support of that effort and was filed with the U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 11th.
The amicus brief is a logical extension of the firm’s When Duty Calls campaign, a long-term pro bono effort to provide legal assistance to military veterans in the initial and appellate stages of VA disability claims. Organized by firm Pro Bono Director Tripp Greason, When Duty Calls has helped dozens of disabled veterans navigate the complex, often confusing, process of applying for service-connected VA benefits.
Mark Desgrosseilliers is an experienced business attorney focusing his practice in the areas of Bankruptcy and Corporate Restructuring. His clients benefit from his wide-ranging industry experience representing public and non-public debtor corporations, debtor-in-possession lenders, secured and unsecured creditors, vendors and asset purchasers in bankruptcy and other corporate restructuring matters. He practices in the firm’s Wilmington, Del., office.
Ericka Johnson focuses her practice on business restructuring and creditors' rights matters. She is experienced in representing trustees, secured lenders, and unsecured creditors including official committees, landlords, trade creditors, equipment lessors, insurance companies, and personal injury claimants. She practices in Womble Carlyle’s Wilmington, Del., office.