Military Sexual Trauma Rulemaking & Litigation

On behalf of the Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN) and Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA), the clinic submitted a petition for rule-making to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) seeking to reform regulations regarding disability claims filed each year by thousands of veterans suffering from PTSD related to rape, sexual harassment, or sexual assault (collectively “military sexual trauma” or “MST”). Filed in June 2013, the petition requested that VA adopt evidentiary accommodations for MST claims, as VA has done for numerous other disabilities that are difficult to prove and that disproportionately affect male service members. When VA ignored the rulemaking petition, the clinic filed suit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit to compel the agency to respond to the petition. In July 2014, VA denied the rulemaking petition. The clinic now represents SWAN and VVA in a second suit in the Federal Circuit challenging VA's rejection of the petition and its refusal to end discrimination against MST survivors.

In October 2015, the Federal Circuit held oral argument on the merits of VA’s denial of the rulemaking petition.

Petitioner's Reply Brief (April 20, 2015)
Respondent's Reply Brief (March 13, 2015)
Corrected Public Health and Mental Health Specialists Amici Brief (February 3, 2015)
Corrected NVLSP Amici Brief (January 8, 2015)
Corrected ACLU Amici Brief (January 7, 2015)
Members of Congress Amici Brief (December 18, 2014)
Petitioner's Opening Brief (December 4, 2014)
Second Petition for Review (July 29, 2014)
VA denial of petition for rulemaking (July 14, 2014)
Petition for Review (April 29, 2014)
Petition for Rule-Making (June 27, 2013)

Media Clips:

Patricia Kime, Groups sue VA over rules on PTSD claims for sexual trauma, Navy Times, July 30, 2014

Meredith Clark, New VA head inherits sex assault crisis, MSNBC, July 29, 2014

Leo Shane, Lawsuit claims VA discriminates against sexual assault victims, Army Times, May 1, 2014

Peggy McCarthy, Lawsuit: VA Discriminates Against Veterans With Sexual Trauma, The Hartford Courant, April 30, 2014

Richard Oppel, Veterans Agency Is Sued Over Handling of Trauma Cases, The New York Times, April 30, 2014

Mary O’Leary, Yale Law School suit alleges Veterans Administration biased against sex assault victims with PTSD, New Haven Register, April 30, 2014