From risking their lives on the battlefield to providing urgent care to those in need around the globe, active members and veterans of the Armed Forces embody the meaning of service. We are proud to work on their behalf in a number of ways.
In conjunction with the National Veterans Legal Services Program’s (NVLSP) Lawyers Serving Warriors Program, more than 400 lawyers across 15 offices have taken on over 270 matters on behalf of veterans and active-duty service members in the last eight years, including more than 100 matters in 2020. This work often involves appealing military disability ratings, which determine the amount of military disability benefits disabled veterans receive for their conditions. Our clients through NVLSP include a decorated officer who sustained injuries in combat operations in Iraq. Representing him before the Physical Disability Board of Review, we secured a disability rating that results in full disability benefits and healthcare for him and his family. We also successfully brought a case against the government in the Court of Federal Claims to help a former Navy SEAL receive full retirement and medical benefits after the Navy found that his traumatic brain injury was not an “unfitting condition.”
This year, we also achieved an appellate victory establishing a precedent that could benefit hundreds of military officers. Under law, officers passed over twice for promotion must be discharged unless they are close to eligibility for retirement. But, in 2010, the US Air Force narrowed its exceptions to this policy — forcing out over 150 majors, including our client. In a reversal of the judgment of the Court of Federal Claims (CFC), the Federal Circuit found that he had been wrongfully discharged and that the Air Force had improperly rewritten the involuntary discharge protection for officers who are nearing retirement. Further, the Federal Circuit remanded in a rare precedential opinion with express instructions to convene a special board for reconsideration that effectively bypassed the CFC.
Our pro bono support for veterans extends to significant legal matters involving leading volunteer organisations. We recently secured an important federal court victory for Team Rubicon, Inc. (TRI), a non-profit group that deploys US veterans in response to large-scale disasters. TRI sought our representation in connection with a contentious trademark dispute with a former licensee. In response to the suit, a New York-Chicago-DC litigation team filed counterclaims and a motion for preliminary injunction on TRI’s behalf to protect the organisation’s trademarks and intellectual property, as well as to vindicate its charitable interests — with favourable results for our client. Not only was the motion granted, but TRI received all of the injunctive relief it had requested. The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upheld the preliminary injunction, with the plaintiff’s motion being denied in its entirety.
Serving means rising above self-interest to help others. Latham stands with active and retired service members.