A Collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh

Canada court allows disabled veteran class action to continue

A judge for the Supreme Court of British Columbia [official website] on Friday declined to dismiss a class action lawsuit filed by disabled members of the Canadian military seeking to invalidate a veteran compensation law that limits payments to disabled veterans. Last year disabled veterans joined together to challenge the constitutionality of the 2005 New Veterans Charter (NVC) [government backgrounder], which gave disabled soldiers capped one-time payments in lieu of lifetime monthly payments. The veterans assert that the NVC's lump-sum payment system fails to adequately provide for disabled veterans returning from the war in Afghanistan. The Attorney General of Canada [official website] filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that the plaintiffs failed to make out a winnable claim. Justice Gordon Weatherill, however, denied the motion, emphasizing that the case raises important issues [Canadian Press report] regarding the government's promises to compensate injured service members. The court ordered the government to file a response to the plaintiffs' complaint.

Veterans' rights remain a controversial issue around the globe, especially in the US. Earlier this month the US Department of Justice (DOJ) announced [JURIST report] that it will no longer enforce a federal law that denies same-sex spouses veterans benefits in light of the US Supreme Court's decision to invalidate Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act. In August a judge for the US District Court for the Central District of California held [JURIST report] that Title 38's exclusion of same-sex spouses from veteran's benefits is unconstitutional. Tracey Cooper-Harris, a 12-year Army veteran, sued the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) after it denied her fully disability benefits because she is married to a woman. In January the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) announced a settlement [JURIST report] with the federal government providing full separation payment to service members discharged under the controversial Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT) policy.

About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

© Copyright JURIST Legal News and Research Services, Inc., 2013.