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Paralyzed Veterans of America v. Secretary of Veteran Affairs

United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
308 F.3d 1262 (2002)


Facts

The Board of Veterans’ Appeals (Board) of the Department of Veterans Affairs (Department) heard a case involving a claim that the Department failed to diagnose a veteran’s cardiac illness, resulting in the veteran’s death. The Chairman of the Board made a written request to the Department’s General Counsel to interpret a relevant statute and issue an opinion regarding two questions presented in the case. Under Department regulations, the interpretation of statutes or regulations by the General Counsel was binding on the Board. The General Counsel issued an opinion in response to the Chairman’s request. A brief summary of the opinion was published in the Federal Register. The Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) (plaintiff) filed a petition against the Secretary of the Department (defendant) in the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. The PVA sought review of the General Counsel’s opinion, which it characterized as a final rule of the Department.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Friedman, J.)

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