Manker v. Del Toro

If you are a Navy or Marine Corps Veteran that might be affected by the settlement in Manker, please read the class notice and visit the class website https://www.mankersettlement.com.

On March 2, 2018, Tyson Manker and the National Veterans Council for Legal Redress (NVCLR) filed a nationwide class-action lawsuit on behalf of thousands of less-than-Honorably discharged Navy and Marine Corps veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and related conditions from the Iraq and Afghanistan era.

Since September 11, 2001, hundreds of thousands of veterans have received less-than-Honorable (“bad paper”) discharges. This imposes a lifetime of stigma, impairs their employment prospects, and denies them access to critical government services including disability benefits, mental health treatment, and the GI Bill. Many of these “bad paper” discharges result from misconduct attributable to conditions like PTSD, traumatic brain injury (TBI), and related mental health conditions.

Congress created the Naval Discharge Review Board (NDRB) to correct these unjust and harsh discharges after veterans return to civilian life. But the NDRB denies 85% of the applications it receives. The class action lawsuit challenges the NDRB's refusal to adequately consider mental health conditions and its failure to adjudicate these applications consistent with constitutional due process guarantees.

Following extensive settlement negotiations, the parties reached an agreement in September 2021. On October 12, 2021 the District Court granted preliminary approval to the proposed settlement agreement, and on February 15, 2022, the District Court granted final approval.

Under the terms of the agreement, the NDRB will will automatically reconsider thousands of cases, dating back nearly a decade to March 2012, in which the Board denied an upgrade to Honorable even though the veteran’s application contained evidence or contentions regarding diagnoses or symptoms of PTSD, TBI, or related conditions. Additionally, the NDRB will send individual notices to a second group of veterans, whose applications the NDRB previously did not upgrade to Honorable in decisions between October 2001 and March 2012. Members of this second group of veterans may re-apply and receive the benefit of the recent liberalizing laws and guidance. These notices will also provide information about free legal services and medical programs to assist veterans pursuing an upgrade and information about what evidence might help them win an upgrade.

Second, the NDRB agreed to make a number of important changes to its general procedures and operations. These changes include additional training for Board members and staff, enhanced notices to veterans of legal and medical services that might assist their applications, and more detailed documentation requirements that the NDRB must follow in any written denials.

The NDRB will also implement a video-teleconference program so that veterans are not required to travel to Washington, D.C. to appear in-person for their discharge upgrade hearings but may participate from a residence or other preferred location instead. Finally, NDRB will also develop an online system to submit and track applications.

For additional information about the settlement agreement, see the settlement documents and resources below. For assistance with the preparation of a discharge upgrade application, please see the informational documents and links below.

The law firm of Jenner & Block is co-counsel with the clinic on this matter.

Naval Discharge Review Board President's Report, 2021-2022

Final Approval Order (filed Feb. 15, 2022)

Settlement Agreement (filed Sept. 16, 2021)

Class Notice (Oct. 12, 2021)

Order Granting Class Certification (Nov. 16, 2018)

Order Denying Defendant's Motion to Dismiss (Nov. 7, 2019)

Complaint (filed March 2, 2018)

Self-Help Resources and Contact Information for Further Assistance

Connect with a Legal Services Provider through Stateside Legal

Veterans Legal Services Clinic Discharge Upgrade Application Self-Help Guide

Department of Veterans Affairs Instructions on Applying for a Discharge Upgrade

Forms and Other Resources for Veterans Seeking Discharge Upgrades

Selected Media Coverage

Dave Philipps, Suit Calls Navy Board Biased Against Veterans with PTSD, The New York Times (March 2, 2018)