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October 29, 2021

Federal Court of Appeals deciding whether Veterans can claim equity in Veterans Courts

Currently pending before the en banc U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit is Taylor v. McDonough (No. 2019-2211 Fed. Cir.), a case requiring the Federal Circuit to assess whether the Veterans Court has equitable powers. In 1969, Mr. Taylor, a Vietnam-era Army veteran, volunteered to serve as a test subject in Project Edgewood, where the Army tested toxic chemicals on servicemembers. As a result, he incurred severe disabilities including PTSD, other life-threatening conditions, and a recent cancer diagnosis. Mr. Taylor was required to sign an oath of secrecy that prohibited him from sharing why he suffered from his various disabilities or making a claim with the VA for those disabilities. After declassification of the project in 2006, Mr. Taylor applied for and received benefits from VA. However, the VA refused to provide backpay for the time between his service (1971) and when he filed his claim (2007).