Veterans for Common Sense et al v. Nicholson et al

Filing 19

MOTION to Dismiss filed by R. James Nicholson, United States Department of Veterans Affairs, James P. Terry, Daniel L. Cooper, Bradley G. Mayes, Michael J. Kussman, Pritz K. Navara, United States of America, Alberto Gonzales, William P. Greene, Jr. Motion Hearing set for 11/2/2007 10:00 AM in Courtroom 1, 17th Floor, San Francisco. (Attachments: # 1 Proposed Order)(Bressler, Steven) (Filed on 9/25/2007)

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Veterans for Common Sense et al v. Nicholson et al Doc. 19 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 PETER D. KEISLER Assistant Attorney General SCOTT N. SCHOOLS Interim United States Attorney RICHARD LEPLEY Assistant Branch Director STEVEN Y. BRESSLER D.C. Bar No. 482492 KYLE R. FREENY California Bar No. 247857 Attorneys United States Department of Justice Civil Division, Federal Programs Branch P.O. Box 883 Washington, D.C. 20044 Telephone: (202) 514-4781 Facsimile: (202) 318-7609 Email: Steven.Bressler@usdoj.gov Attorneys for Defendants Hon. R. James Nicholson, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Hon. James P. Terry, Hon. Daniel L. Cooper, Hon. Bradley G. Mayes, Hon. Michael J. Kussman, Pritz K. Navara, the United States of America, Hon. Peter D. Keisler,* and Hon. William P. Greene, Jr. UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 13 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 14 SAN FRANCISCO 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 Notice of Motion and Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint, set for hearing on 23 November 2, 2007 at 10:00 a.m. or as soon thereafter as counsel may be heard. 24 Defendants hereby move the Court to dismiss plaintiffs' Complaint in its entirety for lack 25 26 27 28 Hon. Peter D. Keisler became the Acting Attorney General of the United States on September 18, 2007. Accordingly, he should be substituted for his predecessor, Alberto Gonzales, as defendant in this action pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 25(d)(1). C a s e No. C 07-3758-SC D e f e n d a n ts ' Notice of Motion and Motion to Dismiss * VETERANS FOR COMMON SENSE and ) VETERANS UNITED FOR TRUTH, ) ) Plaintiffs, ) ) v. ) ) Hon. R. JAMES NICHOLSON, Secretary of ) Veterans Affairs, et al., ) ) Defendants. ) ) ____________________________________ ) No. C 07-3758-SC Date: November 2, 2007 Time: 10:00 a.m. Courtroom 1 DEFENDANTS' NOTICE OF MOTION AND MOTION TO DISMISS PLAINTIFFS' COMPLAINT -1Dockets.Justia.com 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 of subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) or, in the alternative, for failure to state a claim pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), for the reasons more fully set forth in defendants' accompanying memorandum of points and authorities. Dated September 25, 2007 Respectfully Submitted, PETER D. KEISLER Assistant Attorney General SCOTT N. SCHOOLS Interim United States Attorney RICHARD LEPLEY Assistant Branch Director /s/ Steven Y. Bressler STEVEN Y. BRESSLER D.C. Bar #482492 KYLE R. FREENY California Bar #247857 Attorneys U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Division P.O. Box 883 Washington, D.C. 20044 (202) 514-4781 (telephone) Counsel for Defendants C a s e No. C 07-3758-SC D e f e n d a n ts ' Notice of Motion and Motion to Dismiss -2- 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 PETER D. KEISLER Assistant Attorney General SCOTT N. SCHOOLS Interim United States Attorney RICHARD LEPLEY Assistant Branch Director STEVEN Y. BRESSLER D.C. Bar No. 482492 KYLE R. FREENY California Bar No. 247857 Attorneys United States Department of Justice Civil Division, Federal Programs Branch P.O. Box 883 Washington, D.C. 20044 Telephone: (202) 514-4781 Facsimile: (202) 318-7609 Email: Steven.Bressler@usdoj.gov Attorneys for Defendants Hon. R. James Nicholson, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Hon. James P. Terry, Hon. Daniel L. Cooper, Hon. Bradley G. Mayes, Hon. Michael J. Kussman, Pritz K. Navara, the United States of America, Hon. Peter D. Keisler, and Hon. William P. Greene, Jr. UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 13 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 14 SAN FRANCISCO 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 C a s e No. C 07-3758-SC M e m o r a n d u m in Support of Defendants' Motion to Dismiss VETERANS FOR COMMON SENSE and ) VETERANS UNITED FOR TRUTH, ) ) Plaintiffs, ) ) v. ) ) Hon. R. JAMES NICHOLSON, Secretary of ) Veterans Affairs, et al., ) ) Defendants. ) ) ____________________________________ ) No. C 07-3758-SC Date: November 2, 2007 Time: 10:00 a.m. Courtroom 1 MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS PLAINTIFFS' COMPLAINT TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE(S) INTRODUCTION. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 BACKGROUND. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 I. II. Statutory and Regulatory Background: The Veterans Benefits Scheme. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Factual Background. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 ARGUMENT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 I. II. Plaintiffs Lack Standing To Pursue Their Claims In This Court. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Plaintiffs' Constitutional Claims Should Be Dismissed. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 A. B. Plaintiffs' Claims Are Barred By Sovereign Immunity. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Plaintiffs Have Failed To Establish Subject Matter Jurisdiction Over Their Constitutional Claims In This Court. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 1. Title 38 U.S.C. 511 Bars Review In District Court Of Plaintiffs' Claims Involving VA Procedures, Practices And Actions.. . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Title 38 U.S.C. 502 Bars Review In District Court Of Plaintiffs' Claims Challenging VA Regulations.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 2. C. Plaintiffs' Constitutional Challenge Fails To State A Claim Upon Which Relief Can Be Granted In This Court. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 1. Facial Constitutional Challenges To Acts of Congress Must Meet A High Burden.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 Substantial Deference Must Be Accorded To The Considered Judgment Of Congress Acting Under Its War Powers.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 Plaintiffs' Challenge To The VJRA Fails As A Matter of Law.. . . . . . . . 16 a. The Bulk Of Plaintiffs' Claims Are Not Facial Challenges.. . . . . 17 2. 3. Case No. C 07-3758-SC M e m o r a n d u m in Support of Defendants' Motion to Dismiss -i- b. The Non-Adversarial VA Claims Adjudication System Does Not Offend Due Process. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 Plaintiffs' Claim That Veteran Claimants May Not Obtain Expedited Or Injunctive Relief Is Unfounded. . . . . . . . . . 19 Due Process Does Not Require A Class Action Procedure. . . . . . 20 Plaintiffs' Facial Challenge To The Statutory Limit On Fees To Attorneys In The Administrative Process Is Foreclosed By Precedent. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 c. d. e. D. This Court Lacks Subject Matter Jurisdiction Over Plaintiffs' Derivative Right Of Access To The Courts Claim, Which Also Fails As A Matter Of Law. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 III. Plaintiffs' Statutory Claim Requesting Declaratory Relief Concerning Recently Discharged Veterans' Right To Medical Care Fails As A Matter Of Law. . . . . . . . . . . . 23 Plaintiffs Cannot Evade The Exclusive VA Remedial Process With A Statutory Claim Under The Rehabilitation Act. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 IV. CONCLUSION. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 Case No. C 07-3758-SC M e m o r a n d u m in Support of Defendants' Motion to Dismiss -ii- TABLE OF AUTHORITIES CASES Page(s) Albun v. Brown, 9 F.3d 1528 (Fed. Cir. 1993)............................................................................................ 13 Alexander v. Sandoval, 532 U.S. 275 (2001)......................................................................................................... 23 Barrett v. Nicholson, 466 F.3d 1038 (Fed. Cir. 2006)........................................................................................ 17 Beamon v. Brown, 125 F.3d 965 (6th Cir. 1997). ................................................................................... passim Bennett v. Spear, 520 U.S. 154 (1997)..................................................................................................... 7, 12 Blodgett v. Holden, 275 U.S. 142 (1927)......................................................................................................... 15 Broudy v. Mather, 460 F.3d 106 (D.C. Cir. 2006). ........................................................................................ 12 Brown v. Department of Veterans Affairs, 451 F. Supp. 2d 273 (D. Mass. 2006). ........................................................................ 24,25 Brown v. Gardner, 513 U.S. 115 (1994)......................................................................................................... 18 Buzinski v. Brown, 6 Vet. App. 360 (1994). ................................................................................................... 13 Chavez v. Blue Sky Natural Beverage Co., F. Supp. 2d , No. C 06-6609-SC, 2007 WL 1691249 (N.D. Cal. June 11, 2007) . ............................................................... 15 Carpenter v. Principi, 452 F.3d 1379 (Fed. Cir. 2006)........................................................................................ 21 Eastern Paralyzed Veterans Ass'n, Inc. v. Sec'y of Veterans Affairs, 257 F.3d 1352 (Fed. Cir. 2001).................................................................................. 23, 24 Case No. C 07-3758-SC M e m o r a n d u m in Support of Defendants' Motion to Dismiss -iii- Floyd v. District of Columbia, 129 F.3d 152 (D.C. Cir. 1997). .......................................................................................... 6 Chinnock v. Turnage, 995 F.2d 889 (9th Cir. 1993). .............................................................................. 11, 14, 17 Christopher v. Harbury, 536 U.S. 409 (2002)......................................................................................................... 22 Collaro v. West, 136 F.3d 1304 (Fed. Cir. 1998)........................................................................................ 19 Cousins v. Sec'y, U.S. Dep't of Transp., 880 F.2d 603 (1st Cir. 1989)............................................................................................ 25 Dacoron v. Brown, 4 Vet. App. 115 (1993). ................................................................................................... 13 Demarest v. United States, 718 F.2d 964 (9th Cir. 1983). .................................................................................... 15, 22 Dep't of the Army v. Blue Fox, Inc., 525 U.S. 255 (1999)....................................................................................................... 6, 7 Disabled American Veterans v. U.S. Dep't of Veterans Affairs, 962 F.2d 136 (2d Cir. 1992)....................................................................................... 13, 17 Dugan v. Rank, 372 U.S. 609 (1963)........................................................................................................... 7 Ebert v. Brown, 4 Vet. App. 434 (1993). ................................................................................................... 19 Elk Grove Sch. Dist. v. Newdow, 542 U.S. 1 (2004)............................................................................................................... 4 Erspamer v. Derwinski, 1 Vet. App. 3 (1990). ....................................................................................................... 19 Case No. C 07-3758-SC M e m o r a n d u m in Support of Defendants' Motion to Dismiss -iv- Friends of the Earth, Inc. v. Laidlaw Envtl. Servs. (TOC), Inc., 528 U.S. 167 (2000)........................................................................................................... 4 Friscia v. Brown, 7 Vet. App. 294 (1994). .............................................................................................. 19,20 Gallo Cattle Co. v. Department of Agriculture, 159 F.3d 1194 (9th Cir. 1998). .......................................................................................... 7 Gendron v. Levi, 423 U.S. 802 (1975)......................................................................................................... 22 Hall v. Dep't of Veterans' Affairs, 85 F.3d 532 (11th Cir. 1996). .................................................................................... 11, 14 Harbury v. Deutch, 244 F.3d 956 (D.C. Cir. 2000). ........................................................................................ 22 Harrison v. Derwinski, 1 Vet. App. 438 (1991). ................................................................................................... 20 Hawaii v. Gordon, 373 U.S. 57 (1963)............................................................................................................. 7 Hicks v. Veterans' Admin., 961 F.2d 1367 (8th Cir. 1992). ............................................................................ 10, 11, 14 Hodge v. West, 155 F.3d 1356 (Fed. Cir. 1998)........................................................................................ 19 Holloman v. Watt, 708 F.2d 1399 (9th Cir. 1983), cert. denied, 466 U.S. 958 (1984). ................................... 6 Hotel & Motel Ass'n of Oakland v. City of Oakland, 344 F.3d 959 (9th Cir. 2003). .......................................................................................... 15 Hunt v. Washington Apple Adver. Comm'n, 432 U.S. 333 (1977)........................................................................................................... 4 J.L. v. Social Security Admin., 971 F.2d 260 (1992)......................................................................................................... 25 Johnson v. Robison, 415 U.S. 361 (1974).................................................................................................. passim Case No. C 07-3758-SC M e m o r a n d u m in Support of Defendants' Motion to Dismiss -v- Kirk v. INS, 927 F.2d 1106 (9th Cir. 1991). ........................................................................................ 20 Koulizos v. Derwinski, 2 Vet. App. 350 (1992). ................................................................................................... 20 Lake Mohave Boat Owners Ass'n v. Nat'l Park Serv., 78 F.3d 1360 (9th Cir. 1996). ............................................................................................ 5 Lane v. Pena, 518 U.S. 187 (1996)...................................................................................................... 6,25 Larrabee by Jones v. Derwinski, 968 F.2d 1497 (2d Cir. 1992)............................................................................... 10, 13, 24 Lefkowitz v. Derwinski, 1 Vet. App. at 439. ........................................................................................................... 21 Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. 343 (1996)........................................................................................................... 5 Littlewolf v. Lujan, 877 F.2d 1058 (D.C. Cir. 1989). ...................................................................................... 15 Look v. U.S., 113 F.3d 1129 (9th Cir. 1997). .......................................................................................... 4 Lujan v. Nat'l Wildlife Fed'n, 497 U.S. 871 (1990)........................................................................................................... 8 Lynch v. United States, 292 U.S. 571 (1934)........................................................................................................... 6 Lytran v. Dep't of Treasury, No. 05-4124 JAR, 2006 WL 516754 (D. Kan. February 28, 2006) . ................................ 12 Magana v. Northern Mariana Islands, 107 F.3d 1436 (9th Cir. 1997). .......................................................................................... 8 Case No. C 07-3758-SC M e m o r a n d u m in Support of Defendants' Motion to Dismiss -vi- Maroszan v. U.S., 90 F.3d 1284 (7th Cir. 1996). .......................................................................................... 22 Marozsan v. U.S., 849 F. Supp. 617 (N.D. Ind. 1994). ................................................................................. 22 Mathews v. Eldridge, 424 U.S. 319 (1976)......................................................................................................... 20 Moore v. Johnson, 582 F.2d 1228 (9th Cir. 1978). ............................................................................ 12, 13, 16 Murrhee v. Principi, 364 F. Supp. 2d 782 (C.D. Ill. 2005). .............................................................................. 12 S.D. Myers, Inc. v. City & County of San Francisco, 253 F.3d 461 (9th Cir. 2001). .......................................................................................... 15 Myers v. Derwinski, 1 Vet. App. 127 (1991). ..................................................................................................... 3 N.O.V.A. v. Sec'y, Veterans Affairs, 330 F.3d 1345 (Fed. Cir. 2003).......................................................................................... 2 Nat'l Ass'n of Radiation Survivors v. Derwinski, 994 F.2d 583 (9th Cir. 1992). .................................................................................... 21, 23 Norton v. Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, 542 U.S. 55 (2004)............................................................................................................. 8 Preminger v. Principi, 422 F.3d 815 (9th Cir. 2005). .................................................................................... 14, 17 Prescott v. United States, 973 F.2d 696 (9th Cir. 1992). ............................................................................................ 6 Price v. U.S., 228 F.3d 420 (D.C. Cir. 2000). ........................................................................................ 11 Rosen v. Walters, 719 F.2d 1422 (9th Cir. 1983). ............................................................................ 13, 15, 25 Case No. C 07-3758-SC M e m o r a n d u m in Support of Defendants' Motion to Dismiss -vii- Rostker v. Goldberg, 453 U.S. 57 (1981)........................................................................................................... 16 Rumsfeld v. FAIR, 547 U.S. 47 (2006)........................................................................................................... 16 Sanders v. Nicholson, 487 F.3d 881 (Fed. Cir. 2006).......................................................................................... 18 Saunders v. Brown, 4 Vet. App. 320 (1993). ................................................................................................... 13 Schweiker v. McClure, 456 U.S. 188 (1982)......................................................................................................... 19 Siguar v. Derwinski, 935 F.2d 280 (Table), 1991 WL 70320 (Fed. Cir. May 6, 1991)............................... 17, 22 Skelly Oil Co. v. Phillips Petroleum Co., 339 U.S. 667 (1950)........................................................................................................... 6 Smith v. Pacific Properties and Dev. Corp., 358 F.3d 1097 (9th Cir. 2004). .......................................................................................... 4 Stanley v. Principi, 283 F.3d 1350 (Fed. Cir. 2002)........................................................................................ 21 Steffens v. Brown, 8 Vet. App. 142 (1995). ................................................................................................... 19 Sugrue v. Derwinski, 26 F.3d 8 (2d Cir. 1994)............................................................................................. 10, 11 Thunder Basin Coal Co. v. Reich, 510 U.S. 200 (1994)............................................................................................................ 23 Tietjen v. Veterans' Admin., 692 F. Supp. 1106 (D. Ariz. 1988). ...................................................................................... 8 Tietjen v. Veterans Admin., 884 F.2d 514 (9th Cir. 1989). .................................................................................... 11, 15 Case No. C 07-3758-SC M e m o r a n d u m in Support of Defendants' Motion to Dismiss -viii- Touche Ross & Co. v. Redington, 442 U.S. 560 (1979)......................................................................................................... 23 Traynor v. Turnage, 485 U.S. 535 (1988)............................................................................................. 10, 11, 24 U.S. v. Bynum, 327 F.3d 986 (9th Cir. 2003). .................................................................................... 15, 19 U.S. v. Mitchell, 463 U.S. 206 (1983)........................................................................................................... 6 U.S. v. O'Brien, 391 U.S. 367 (1968)......................................................................................................... 16 U.S. v. Salerno, 481 U.S. 739 (1987)................................................................................................... 15, 19 U.S. v. Sherwood, 312 U.S. 584 (1941)........................................................................................................... 6 U.S. v. Lazarenko, 476 F.3d 642 (9th Cir. 2007). ............................................................................................ 5 U.S. v. Satterfield, 743 F.2d 827 (11th Cir. 1984), cert. denied, 471 U.S. 1117 (1985). ............................... 15 Walters v. Nat'l Ass'n of Radiation Survivors, 473 U.S. 305 (1985).................................................................................................... passim Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490 (1975).............................................................................................................. 5 Weaver v. U.S., 98 F.3d 518 (10th Cir. 1996). .......................................................................................... 12 Weiss v. U.S., 510 U.S. 163 (1994)......................................................................................................... 16 Withrow v. Larkin, 421 U.S. 35 (1975)........................................................................................................... 19 Case No. C 07-3758-SC M e m o r a n d u m in Support of Defendants' Motion to Dismiss -ix- Z.N. v. Brown, 6 Vet. App. 183 (1994). ................................................................................................... 20 Zuspann v. Brown, 60 F.3d 1156 (5th Cir. 1995), cert. denied, 516 U.S. 1111 (1996). ............................. 9, 11 STATUTES Administrative Procedure Act ("APA"), 5 U.S.C. 701-706............................................. passim 28 U.S.C. 1331............................................................................................................................ 6 28 U.S.C. 1651.............................................................................................................................. 19 28 U.S.C. 2201-02. ........................................................................................................................ 6 29 U.S.C. 794(a). ...................................................................................................................... 24 38 U.S.C. 3.304(f)....................................................................................................................... 2 38 U.S.C. 101(16). .................................................................................................................... 2 38 U.S.C. 211 (1984). ........................................................................................................ passim 38 U.S.C. 502........................................................................................................................ 7, 14 38 U.S.C. 511..................................................................................................................... passim 38 U.S.C. 1110............................................................................................................................ 2 38 U.S.C. 1114.......................................................................................................................... 2 38 U.S.C. 1310............................................................................................................................ 2 38 U.S.C. 1710(e)(1)(D). .................................................................................................... 23, 24 38 U.S.C. 3404(c) (1988).......................................................................................................... 21 38 U.S.C. 5103.......................................................................................................................... 20 38 U.S.C. 5103A.......................................................................................................................... 3 Case No. C 07-3758-SC M e m o r a n d u m in Support of Defendants' Motion to Dismiss -x- 38 U.S.C. 5107(a). ...................................................................................................................... 3 38 U.S.C. 5711.......................................................................................................................... 18 38 U.S.C. 5904(c). ............................................................................................................... 21, 22 38 U.S.C. 7105(a). ...................................................................................................................... 3 38 U.S.C. 7107.................................................................................................................... 19, 20 38 U.S.C. 7252(a). ................................................................................................................ 3, 13 38 U.S.C. 7261(a)(1)....................................................................................................... 3, 13, 20 38 U.S.C. 7292(a). ................................................................................................................ 3, 13 RULES AND REGULATIONS 38 C.F.R. 3.103. ............................................................................................................... 2, 17, 20 38 C.F.R. 4.125-4.130.............................................................................................................. 17 38 C.F.R. 17.36(b)(6)................................................................................................................ 23 38 C.F.R. 20.711. ...................................................................................................................... 18 57 Fed. Reg. 4088, 4101 (February 3, 1992). ............................................................................... 18 PUBLIC LAWS AND LEGISLATIVE MATERIALS Pub. L. No. 100-527, 102 Stat. 2634 (1988)................................................................................ 11 Veterans' Judicial Review Act ("VJRA"), Pub. L. No. 100-687, 102 Stat. 4105 (1988)...... passim Pub. L. No. 102-83, 2(a), 105 Stat. 378, 388 (1991). ................................................................... 9 Pub. L. 109-461, 101, 120 Stat. 3403, 3405-06 (2006). ............................................................ 21 H.R.Rep. No. 100-963, at 13 (1988), reprinted in 1988 U.S.C.C.A.N. 5782, 5795. ................... 19 H.R. Rep. No. 104-690 (1996)..................................................................................................... 24 H.R. Rep. No. 1166, 91st Cong., 2d Sess. 11 (1970) reprinted in 1970 U.S.C.C.A.N. 3723, 3731....................................................................................................................................... 9 Case No. C 07-3758-SC M e m o r a n d u m in Support of Defendants' Motion to Dismiss -xi- 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 INTRODUCTION Plaintiffs, two advocacy organizations, have filed a complaint for injunctive and declaratory relief that broadly challenges the benefits adjudication programs of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs ("VA"). Plaintiffs' Complaint reflects their frustration with the political processes that have led to the statute that plaintiffs purport to challenge, the Veterans' Judicial Review Act ("VJRA"), Pub. L. No. 100-687, 102 Stat. 4105 (1988), which created an exclusive review procedure for veterans to resolve issues concerning benefits determinations and another exclusive review procedure for the challenge of VA regulations. Plaintiffs' public policy grievances may or may not be well-taken, but that is a question for the representative branches of government, not this Court. As an initial matter, under the doctrine of sovereign immunity the United States may not be sued without its consent. Plaintiffs have failed to identify any valid waiver for their claims. The only waiver that could conceivably apply is that contained in the Administrative Procedure Act ("APA"). However, the APA is inapposite because plaintiffs have failed to identify any "final agency action" that they challenge as the APA requires and because the Supreme Court has held that the APA does not allow the type of wholesale "programmatic" challenge plaintiffs seek to bring in this Court. To the extent plaintiffs do allege harm from agency actions, policies, or procedures related to veterans' benefits, Congress has barred district courts from hearing such challenges and, instead, crafted an exclusive review process through the VA, the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims ("CAVC"), and the Federal Circuit. Similarly, jurisdiction over plaintiffs' claims alleging harm from VA regulations also lies exclusively in the Federal Circuit. Plaintiffs attempt to state a facial constitutional challenge to the VJRA itself but that challenge fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. For the most part, plaintiffs' challenge is not truly facial and, because it would require consideration of VA decisions affecting veterans' benefits, it must be channeled through the VA system and/or Federal Circuit. Plaintiffs also attempt to evade the exclusive VA remedial process by invoking an unrelated statute, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, but the VJRA similarly forecloses such a challenge in this Court. C a s e No. C 07-3758-SC M e m o r a n d u m in Support of Defendants' Motion to Dismiss -1- 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 I. Next, plaintiffs' facial challenge of a statute that limits the fees veterans may pay attorneys who represent them at the earliest stage of the VA adjudicatory process is foreclosed by binding Supreme Court and Ninth Circuit precedents that upheld a more restrictive fee limitation. Plaintiffs also ask this Court to declare the VA is failing to meet recently returning veterans' statutory entitlement to free health care for two years. This claim also fails: the relevant statute makes it plain on its face that it creates no such entitlement. In sum, plaintiffs' lengthy Complaint reflects a variety of policy disagreements, but it does not contain any claim cognizable in this Court, as opposed to the halls of Congress or the exclusive judicial and administrative review system that Congress has created. BACKGROUND Statutory and Regulatory Background: The Veterans Benefits Scheme. Title 38 of the United States Code and the VA's regulations create a comprehensive and exclusive scheme for adjudicating claims for compensation for disabilities or death resulting from military service. See 38 U.S.C. 1110 (disability compensation); 38 U.S.C. 1310 (dependency and indemnity compensation for service-connected death). To establish entitlement to benefits, a claimant must show that the disability or death resulted from an injury or disease that was incurred in or aggravated by service. See 38 U.S.C. 101(16), 1110. Service connection may be established by evidence even if the disability was not manifest or diagnosed until after separation from service, see 38 C.F.R. 3.303(b), (d). Regulations that govern the establishment of service connection for claims of post-traumatic stress disorder ("PTSD") are located at 38 U.S.C. 3.304(f). See N.O.V.A. v. Sec'y, Veterans Affairs, 330 F.3d 1345 (Fed. Cir. 2003) (rejecting challenge to validity of prior version of 3.304(f)). When the VA awards benefits for service-connected disability or death, the claimant is often entitled to a monthly benefit payment, which depends upon the degree of disability and other circumstances. 38 U.S.C. 1114, 1115. Disability ratings are assigned under VA's schedule for rating disabilities in 38 C.F.R. part 4, and are based on the degree of impairment of earning capacity resulting from the disability. 38 U.S.C. 1155. Veterans seeking benefits may file claims at one of 58 regional VA offices ("ROs"), which C a s e No. C 07-3758-SC M e m o r a n d u m in Support of Defendants' Motion to Dismiss -2- 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 assist in developing the facts necessary to substantiate a claim and render initial decisions. See 38 U.S.C. 5107(a). Proceedings are informal and non-adversarial, and where there is a balance of positive and negative evidence on an issue material to a case, the issue is resolved in favor of the claimant. See 38 U.S.C. 5107(b); Myers v. Derwinski, 1 Vet. App. 127, 137 (1991) ("The appellate process within the VA is intended to be informal and nonadversarial."); S. REP. NO. 109-297, 109th Cong., 2d Sess., at 5, 2006 WL 2250901 (2006) ("VA has a non-adversarial process for developing and adjudicating claims for veterans' benefits."). Moreover, the VA has an affirmative duty to assist claimants in obtaining the evidence necessary to substantiate their claims, Id.; 38 U.S.C. 5103A, and other federal agencies have an affirmative duty to provide information to the VA as requested for purposes of determining eligibility for benefits, id. 5106. When a VA regional office denies a claim for benefits, the claimant may appeal the decision to the Board of Veterans' Appeals ("BVA"), which decides an appeal only after the claimant has been given an opportunity for a hearing. 38 U.S.C. 7105(a). An adverse decision by the BVA may be appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims ("CAVC"), which has authority to review all questions of law, including constitutional claims, see 38 U.S.C. 7261(a)(1), and has exclusive jurisdiction to review BVA decisions, 38 U.S.C. 7252(a). Decisions by the CAVC may, in turn, be appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, see 38 U.S.C. 7292(a), and then to the Supreme Court, id. 7292(c). In reviewing CAVC decisions, the Federal Circuit has authority to "decide all relevant questions of law, including interpreting constitutional and statutory provisions," 38 U.S.C. 7292(d)(1), and this authority is exclusive, see 38 U.S.C. 7292(c). Indeed, Congress has expressly divested district courts of authority to review VA benefits decisions, stating that such decisions may be reviewed only as provided in Title 38, and "may not be reviewed by any other official or by any court, whether by an action in the nature of mandamus or otherwise." 38 U.S.C. 511(a). II. Factual Background The plaintiffs in this action include two advocacy organizations but no individuals, and plaintiffs have made no allegations of specific instances in which the laws, regulations, practices, C a s e No. C 07-3758-SC M e m o r a n d u m in Support of Defendants' Motion to Dismiss -3- 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 and procedures that plaintiffs purport to challenge were applied unlawfully to any individual. ARGUMENT I. Plaintiffs Lack Standing To Pursue Their Claims In This Court. Article III of the U.S. Constitution requires plaintiffs to establish their standing to sue. Accordingly, they must, "at an irreducible minimum," show: (1) a distinct and palpable injury, actual or threatened; (2) that the injury is fairly traceable to the defendant's conduct; and (3) that a favorable decision is likely to redress the complained-of injury. E.g., Friends of the Earth, Inc. v. Laidlaw Envtl. Servs. (TOC), Inc., 528 U.S. 167, 180-81 (2000); Look v. United States, 113 F.3d 1129, 1130 (9th Cir. 1997). A plaintiff must also satisfy the prudential requirements for standing that have been adopted by the judiciary. Elk Grove Sch. Dist. v. Newdow, 542 U.S. 1, 11-12 (2004). Organizational plaintiffs must meet these standing requirements. An organization may have "representational standing" to sue on behalf of its members. See, e.g., Smith v. Pacific Properties and Dev. Corp., 358 F.3d 1097, 1101 (9th Cir. 2004). The plaintiff organizations here claim to "bring this action as the representatives of their members and/or constituencies," not on their own behalf. Compl. 38. Accordingly, plaintiffs' "representational standing is contingent upon the standing of [their] members to bring suit."1 Id. (citations omitted). Furthermore: [t]o establish representational standing, [an organization] must demonstrate that: "(a) its members would have standing to sue in their own right; (b) the interests it seeks to vindicate are germane to the organization's purpose; and (c) neither the claim asserted nor the relief requested requires the participation of individual members in the lawsuit." Id. at 1101-02, quoting Hunt v. Washington Apple Adver. Comm'n, 432 U.S. 333, 343 (1977). 21 At the outset, plaintiffs do not identify a single member who is suffering any alleged injury 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 Plaintiffs have no standing to represent their supposed "constituencies," Compl. 38, separate from their actual members. See Smith, 358 F.3d at 1101. Defendants also note that this is a putative class action. See Compl. 29. While plaintiffs have not yet sought class certification, there can be no class without named representatives who have individual standing and satisfy the prerequisites of commonality and typicality for each claim asserted. C a s e No. C 07-3758-SC M e m o r a n d u m in Support of Defendants' Motion to Dismiss 2 1 fairly traceable to defendants' conduct or the challenged statute.2 Even if plaintiff had identified -4- 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 an individual member with a potentially justiciable claim for relief, however, resolution of that claim would require their participation. Associational standing does not exist where "claims are not common to the entire membership, nor shared by all in equal degree . . . and both the fact and extent of the injury would require individualized proof." Lake Mohave Boat Owners Ass'n v. Nat'l Park Serv., 78 F.3d 1360, 1367 (9th Cir. 1996). Individual participation would be necessary here to determine, e.g., whether any of the challenged regulations, laws, and alleged practices actually caused them any cognizable harm, and whether the injunctive and declaratory relief the plaintiff organizations request would redress such harm. Therefore, the "individual participation of each injured party" would be "indispensable to proper resolution of the case." Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490, 511 (1975). For these reasons, the plaintiff organizations lack Article III standing to maintain their claims. Plaintiffs also fail to meet the requirements of prudential standing. "It is the role of courts to provide relief to claimants, in individual or class actions, who have suffered, or will imminently suffer, actual harm; it is not the role of courts, but that of the political branches, to shape the institutions of government in such fashion as to comply with the law and constitution." Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. 343, 349 (1996). Plaintiffs raise numerous, policy-oriented grievances, but absent from the complaint is a claim of injury to any individual from these challenged matters. Plaintiffs' broad-based attacks on the VA system therefore do not present a justiciable case or controversy for resolution by this Court but, instead, are "more appropriately addressed in representative branches" of government. United States v. Lazarenko, 476 F.3d 642, 650 (9th Cir. 2007) II. Plaintiffs' Constitutional Claims Should Be Dismissed. In Claims I and II of plaintiffs' Complaint, which follow and incorporate 257 paragraphs of allegations concerning plaintiffs' public policy disagreements with the VA and the U.S. Congress, plaintiffs attempt to state causes of action for alleged Constitutional violations by the VA and the VJRA itself under the Fifth Amendment right to procedural due process and the right of access to the Courts. However, plaintiffs have failed to identify an applicable waiver of sovereign immunity; the bulk of plaintiffs' claims cannot be brought in this Court but must be channeled through the exclusive VA judicial review process; and plaintiffs' constitutional claims fail to state C a s e No. C 07-3758-SC M e m o r a n d u m in Support of Defendants' Motion to Dismiss -5- 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 a claim upon which relief may be granted. For similar reasons, discussed in Parts III & IV, infra, plaintiffs' statutory claims also fail. A. Plaintiffs' Claims Are Barred By Sovereign Immunity. It is "axiomatic that the United States may not be sued without its consent and that the existence of consent is a prerequisite for jurisdiction." U.S. v. Mitchell, 463 U.S. 206, 212 & n.9 (1983) (citing U.S. v. Sherwood, 312 U.S. 584, 586 (1941)). Moreover, "the terms of [the government's] consent to be sued in any court define that court's jurisdiction to entertain suit." Sherwood, 312 U.S. at 586. Such consent must be "`unequivocally expressed' in the statutory text" and strictly construed in favor of the government. Dep't of the Army v. Blue Fox, Inc., 525 U.S. 255, 261 (1999) (quoting Lane v. Pena, 518 U.S. 187, 192 (1996)). Plaintiffs have not met their "`burden of pointing to . . . an unequivocal waiver of [sovereign] immunity."' Prescott v. United States, 973 F.2d 696, 701 (9th Cir. 1992) (quoting Holloman v. Watt, 708 F.2d 1399, 1401 (9th Cir. 1983), cert. denied, 466 U.S. 958 (1984)). For that reason alone, their Complaint must be dismissed. Plaintiffs allege that the VJRA violates their constitutional rights, but the Constitution does not waive sovereign immunity. See Lynch v. United States, 292 U.S. 571, 582 (1934). Likewise, plaintiffs assert jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. 1331 (Compl. 33), but 1331 does not waive the government's immunity. See Holloman, 708 F.2d at 1401. Similarly, the Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. 2201-02, is a procedural statute only and does not effect a waiver of sovereign immunity. See Skelly Oil Co. v. Phillips Petroleum Co., 339 U.S. 667, 671 (1950). Thus, plaintiffs have not identified any applicable waiver of sovereign immunity to permit their suit against defendants to proceed. Cf. Floyd v. District of Columbia, 129 F.3d 152, 155-56 (D.C. Cir. 1997) ("Where the United States is the defendant . . . federal subject matter jurisdiction is not enough; there must also be a statutory cause of action through which Congress has waived sovereign immunity.").3 The defendants in this action include the United States itself and one of its Executive agencies, the VA, as well as a number of federal officials sued in their official capacities. Although an action may be nominally brought against a federal official, it is considered to be brought against the sovereign where, as here, the judgment sought would expend itself on the public domain, interfere with the public administration, or restrain the C a s e No. C 07-3758-SC M e m o r a n d u m in Support of Defendants' Motion to Dismiss 3 -6- 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 The only statute possibly capable of providing the requisite waiver of sovereign immunity for plaintiff's claims is the Administrative Procedure Act ("APA"), 5 U.S.C. 701-706. Section 702 of title 5 waives sovereign immunity for certain suits seeking to obtain judicial review of final agency but, like all waivers of sovereign immunity, it must "be strictly construed, in terms of its scope, in favor of the sovereign." Blue Fox, Inc., 525 U.S. at 261. Even if plaintiffs were to amend their Complaint to invoke the APA waiver of sovereign immunity,4 its limitations would nevertheless compel dismissal. As the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has held, the APA waiver of sovereign immunity in 5 U.S.C. 702 "contains several limitations" including "5 U.S.C. 704, which provides that only `[a]gency action made reviewable by statute and final agency action for which there is no other adequate remedy in a court, are subject to judicial review.'" Gallo Cattle Co. v. Department of Agriculture, 159 F.3d 1194, 1198-99 (9th Cir. 1998) (quoting 5 U.S.C. 704). Plaintiffs' Complaint is barred by that limitation. Plaintiffs do not challenge any "final agency actions,"5 which are those that "mark the consummation of the agency's decisionmaking process" and "by which rights or obligations have been determined, or from which legal consequences will flow." Bennett v. Spear, 520 U.S. 154, 178 (1997). Indeed, plaintiffs disavow any challenge to any individual agency action. Compl. 12 (alleging that "[t]he legal and constitutional defects with the VA's systems, as set forth herein, are . . . divorced from the facts of any individual claim."), 39 (disclaiming any "attempt to obtain review of any decision relating to benefits"). Rather than challenging any particular agency action, plaintiffs seek an extraordinarily broad injunction from this Court that plaintiffs claim would deal with alleged shortfalls in the VA's budget from Congress, Compl. 204-215; "deficiencies" in the VA health care system, id. 184; "delays" in claims adjudication, id. 145; the Government from acting or compel it to act. Hawaii v. Gordon, 373 U.S. 57, 58 (1963) (per curiam); Dugan v. Rank, 372 U.S. 609, 620 (1963). Plaintiffs do cite to "5 U.S.C. 7," Compl. 33, but there is no section 7 in the current version of title 5, U.S. Code. To the extent plaintiffs are challenging agency procedures and regulations, such a challenge also has no place in this Court, as explained infra. See 38 U.S.C. 502. C a s e No. C 07-3758-SC M e m o r a n d u m in Support of Defendants' Motion to Dismiss 5 4 -7- 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 suicide of individuals, id. 170; the general "procedures" for filing a disability claim, id. 203; alleged but unspecified "destruction, alteration or doctoring of records," id. 31; and an alleged (and allegedly improper) "incentive compensation program," id. 277(g). To the extent plaintiffs seek to challenge concrete VA rules that have legal consequences which will directly impact plaintiffs, they have an adequate (and, indeed, exclusive) remedy in the veterans' adjudication system that Congress has carefully crafted. See Part II.B., infra. To the extent plaintiffs are not challenging such concrete VA rules but rather are broadly seeking improvements to programs they do not like, their claims are not cognizable in this Court under the APA waiver of sovereign immunity. As the Supreme Court has held, plaintiffs simply "cannot seek wholesale improvement of this program by court decree, rather than in the offices of the Department or the halls of Congress, where programmatic improvements are normally made. Under the terms of the APA, respondent must direct its attack against some particular `agency action' that causes it harm." Norton v. Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, 542 U.S. 55, 64 (2004), quoting Lujan v. Nat'l Wildlife Fed'n, 497 U.S. 871, 891(1990) (emphasis in original). Such a "case-by-case approach" may be "understandably frustrating" to organizations seeking across-the-board change, but it is the "traditional, and remains the normal, mode of operation of the courts." Nat'l Wildlife Fed'n, 497 U.S. at 894. Unless Congress explicitly provides for review at a higher level of generality, courts may "intervene in the administration of the laws only when, and to the extent that, a specific `final agency action' has an actual or immediately threatened effect." Id. B. Plaintiffs Have Failed To Establish Subject Matter Jurisdiction Over Their Constitutional Claims In This Court. Even if plaintiffs had identified a valid waiver of sovereign immunity for their purported 22 constitutional claims, subject matter jurisdiction over those claims still would not lie in this Court. 23 Congress has the power to define the jurisdiction of the lower federal courts, see Magana v. 24 25 F. Supp. 1106, 1113 (D. Ariz. 1988), and Congress has done so in a fashion that forecloses 26 jurisdiction over plaintiffs' claims here but, instead, channels them through separate processes. 27 28 C a s e No. C 07-3758-SC M e m o r a n d u m in Support of Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Northern Mariana Islands, 107 F.3d 1436, 1440 (9th Cir. 1997); Tietjen v. Veterans' Admin., 692 -8- 1 2 1. Title 38 U.S.C. 511 Bars Review In District Court Of Plaintiffs' Claims Involving VA Procedures, Practices And Actions. In 1988, Congress enacted the VJRA, Pub. L. No. 100-687, 102 Stat. 4105, which created 3 an exclusive review procedure for issues concerning benefits determinations. See Zuspann v. 4 5 allows veterans to appeal benefits determinations to the Board of Veterans' Appeals." Id. at 6 1158-59 (citing 38 U.S.C. 7104(a)). "Jurisdiction to review the Board's decisions is conferred 7 exclusively on the" CAVC. Id. at 1159 (citing 38 U.S.C. 7252(a), 7266(a)). "The . . . Federal 8 Circuit has exclusive jurisdiction to review the decisions of the" CAVC. Id. (citing 38 U.S.C. 9 10 VA that affect veterans' benefits are not reviewable in district court: 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 Section 511 was enacted in 1988 with the passage of the VJRA, and was codified at Section 211(a). In 1991 the code numbering was changed to Section 511(a). Pub. L. No. 102-83, 2(a), 105 Stat. 378, 388 (1991). C a s e No. C 07-3758-SC M e m o r a n d u m in Support of Defendants' Motion to Dismiss 6 Brown, 60 F.3d 1156, 1158 (5th Cir. 1995), cert. denied, 516 U.S. 1111 (1996). "The VJRA 7292(a)). Congress has also expressly directed with 38 U.S.C. 511(a)6 that determinations by The Secretary [of Veterans Affairs] shall decide all questions of law and fact necessary to a decision by the Secretary under a law that affects the provision of benefits by the Secretary to veterans or the dependents or survivors of veterans. Subject to subsection (b), the decision of the Secretary as to any such question shall be final and conclusive and may not be reviewed by any other official or by any court, whether by an action in the nature of mandamus or otherwise. 38 U.S.C. 511(a). Plaintiffs cannot credibly dispute the broad scope and sweep of Section 511, which was included in the VJRA to resolve a dispute that had arisen regarding the congressional intent behind 38 U.S.C. 211, the predecessor of Section 511(a). Until 1973, 38 U.S.C. 211 (now Section 511) barred judicial review of any decision of the Secretary of the VA "on any question of law or fact under any law administered by the Veterans' Administration providing benefits for veterans . . . ." Id. The purpose of Section 211 was to "make it perfectly clear that Congress intends to exclude from judicial review all determinations with respect to noncontractual benefits provided for veterans and their dependents and survivors." H.R. REP. NO. 1166, 91st Cong., 2d Sess. 11 (1970) reprinted in 1970 U.S.C.C.A.N. 3723, 3731. However, in Johnson v. Robison, 415 U.S. 361 (1974), the Supreme Court held that the preclusion-of-review language in -9- 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 Section 211 did not serve as an absolute bar to judicial review of all matters touching upon the administration of veterans' benefits. The Johnson Court found that the courts had jurisdiction to review challenges to the constitutionality of veteran's benefits statutes. 415 U.S. at 372. Subsequent to Johnson, in Traynor v. Turnage, 485 U.S. 535 (1988), the Supreme Court extended the Johnson exception further by permitting district court review of a challenge to VA regulations on the ground that they violated a non-VA statute, the Rehabilitation Act. Within four months of the Traynor decision, Congress enacted the VJRA in which, for the first time, Congress provided for judicial review of veterans' benefits decisions. See supra (describing VJRA procedures). Congress concluded that the exception to Section 211 carved out by the Supreme Court in Johnson "has taken the courts further into individual decision-making than Congress heretofore intended." H.R. REP. NO. 963, at 21, reprinted in 1988 U.S.C.C.A.N. at 5803. In doing so, Congress "broaden[ed] the scope of section 211" and provided the "clear and convincing evidence" that the Traynor Court had found missing of congressional intent to preclude district court jurisdiction to review all challenges to the Secretary's actions concerning the provision of veterans' benefits. Id. at 5809. Simultaneously, it "obviate[d] the Supreme Court's reluctance to construe the statute as barring judicial review of substantial statutory and constitutional claims," by creating the CAVC and vesting it and the Federal Circuit with exclusive review of those matters. Larrabee by Jones v. Derwinski, 968 F.2d 1497, 1501 (2d Cir. 1992) The provisions of the VJRA establish Congress' intent to include all issues necessary to a decision affecting benefits in the "exclusive appellate review scheme" created by that statute. Hicks v. Veterans' Admin., 961 F.2d 1367, 1370 (8th Cir. 1992); accord Sugrue v. Derwinski, 26 F.3d 8, 11 (2d Cir. 1994); Larrabee, 968 F.2d at 1501. Section 511 applies to decisions on "all questions of law and fact," as long as the questions decided are "necessary to a decision by the Secretary under a law that affects the provision of benefits by the Secretary to veterans." 38 U.S.C. 511(a) (emphasis added); see, e.g., Hicks, 961 F.2d at 1369. Plaintiffs' challenges to the Secretary's alleged claim-adjudication procedures and practices raise questions of law and fact regarding the procedures to be used in adjudication of claims and the time frame in which claims should be decided. The resolution of these issues is necessary to decisions by the Secretary C a s e No. C 07-3758-SC M e m o r a n d u m in Support of Defendants' Motion to Dismiss -10- 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 concerning the establishment of claim-adjudication procedures under title 38 of the U.S. Code, as well as to the ultimate resolution of particular veterans' claims. This broad intent is clearly expressed in the legislative history, which explains that a primary purpose behind the VJRA was to: Establish an independent Court of Veterans Appeals . . . similar to the Court of Military Appeals and the United States Tax Court, to rule on all disputes involving the Veterans' Administration[7] and veterans[, and to p]rovide for review by the . . . the Federal Circuit of any legal matter relied on by the [CAVC] in making a decision in a particular case. This would include constitutional, statutory, and regulatory matters, and interpretations of law. H.R. REP. NO. 963, at 4, reprinted in 1988 U.S.C.C.A.N. 5785 (emphasis added). As the House 9 Report states, under the new statutory scheme, "district courts . . . no longer have jurisdiction to 10 entertain challenges to the constitutionality of any matter affecting veterans benefits." 1988 11 U.S.C.C.A.N. at 5802 (emphasis added). 12 Since the Traynor decision and Congress's corresponding legislative correction, courts 13 have recognized that litigants cannot circumvent the Section 511 bar by framing their challenges to 14 the actions of the Secretary in administering veterans' benefits in constitutional or other statutory 15 16 Due Process challenge to VA claims adjudication procedures barred by Section 511 as well as 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 S ee also Chinnock v. Turnage, 995 F.2d 889 (9 th Cir. 1993) (court lacked ju risd ictio n to review VA's interpretation of its regulation); Tietjen v. Veterans Admin., 884 F.2d 5 1 4 , 515 (9 th Cir. 1989) (rejecting attempt to obtain judicial review by characterizing benefits claim as a due-process challenge); Price v. U.S., 228 F.3d 420, 421 (D.C. Cir. 2000) (section 511 " preclud es judicial review in Article III courts of VA decisions affecting the provision of veterans' ben efits," including claim pled under the Federal Tort Claims Act); Hall v. Dep't of Veterans' A ffairs, 85 F.3d 532, 534-35 (11 th Cir. 1996) (constitutional challenge to VA regulation as applied to plaintiff had to be brought under VJRA procedures, not in district court); Zuspann, 60 F.3d at 1 1 5 9 (that challenge to benefit determination was couched in constitutional terms did not remove it fro m section 511's preclusion of judicial review); Hicks, 961 F.2d at 1369 (First Amendment ch allen ge encompassed by Section 511 reviewable only through VJRA procedures; noting in the V JR A "Congress's intent to include all issues, even constitutional ones, necessary to a decision w h ich affects benefits in this exclusive appellate review scheme."); Sugrue, 26 F.3d at 11 (courts C a s e No. C 07-3758-SC M e m o r a n d u m in Support of Defendants' Motion to Dismiss 8 terms. See, e.g., Beamon v. Brown, 125 F.3d 965, 972 (6th Cir. 1997) (APA and Fifth Amendment sovereign immunity).8 Accordingly, plaintiffs' recourse lies not with this Court, but instead with 7 Pub. L. No. 100-527, 102 Stat. 2634 (1988), established VA as an executive department and changed its name from the Veterans' Administration to the Department of Veterans Affairs. -11- 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 the procedures established by Congress in the VJRA for challenging VA decisions that affect benefit determinations.9 In an attempt to evade Section 511, plaintiffs allege that their Complaint makes no "attempt to obtain review of any decision relating to benefits." Compl. 39. But it is the substance of plaintiffs' claims, not the labels plaintiffs assign them, that governs this Court's jurisdictional determination. Weaver v. U.S., 98 F.3d 518, 519-20 (10th Cir. 1996). For example, plaintiffs' claims that they were, or will be, denied access to veterans benefits based on the (unspecified) destruction of records by VA employees, Compl. 31, 228, 231-34, or due to improper pressure, id. 22, 31(d), or incentives, id. 21-22, 31, 148, 227-30, implicate "questions of law and fact necessary to" veterans benefits decisions and thus are barred under Section 511. Such activities could only be actionable if they have some negative impact on one or more benefits decisions. Cf. Spear, 520 U.S. at 178 (under the APA, agency actions subject to challenge are those that "mark the consummation of the agency's decisionmaking process" and "by which rights or obligations have been determined, or from which legal consequences will flow."). But adjudicating whether any allegedly-supressed information is relevant to a veterans do not acquire jurisdiction over challenges to benefit determinations "cloaked in constitutional te rm s ") ; Lytran v. Dep't of Treasury, No. 05-4124 JAR, 2006 WL 516754, *3 (D. Kan. February 2 8 , 2006) ("even if plaintiff's Complaint could be construed to raise constitutional challenges to statu te(s) governing veteran's benefits, sovereign immunity has not been waived, as section 511 p ro v id es the exclusive vehicle to challenge veterans benefits."); Murrhee v. Principi, 364 F. Supp. 2d 782, 789 (C.D. Ill. 2005) (finding district courts lack jurisdiction over challenge to VA conduct r ela te d to benefits claims). Plaintiffs appear to rely upon Broudy v. Mather, 460 F.3d 106 (D.C. Cir. 2006), which conflicts with Ninth Circuit authority. See Compl. 33. In Broudy, nine individual veterans claimed that the VA had unlawfully withheld information from them and that this conduct had prejudiced their benefits claims. Because the VA had not made a decision on the particular issues before the court, although those issues related to veterans' benefits and the Secretary had made a decision concerning benefits, the D.C. Circuit held it had jurisdiction despite Section 511 and without considering sovereign immunity. Id., 460 F.3d at 114. As the Ninth Circuit held under the less-restrictive former Section 211, however, where the substance of a constitutional challenge goes not to legislation but to VA decisions that "concern" benefits, there is no jurisdiction in district court. Moore v. Johnson, 582 F.2d 1228, 1232-33 (9th Cir. 1978) (also finding sovereign immunity barred such a challenge). See also, e.g., Beamon, 125 F.3d 965 & id. at 970-71 (same under Section 511). C a s e No. C 07-3758-SC M e m o r a n d u m in Support of Defendants' Motion to Dismiss 9 -12- 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 benefits claim is itself a question "necessary to a decision by the Secretary under a law that affects the provision of benefits," 38 U.S.C. 511(a), and thus falls within the exclusive province of the VA, subject to judicial review solely in the Federal Circuit. Rosen v. Walters, 719 F.2d 1422, 1425 (9th Cir. 1983) (affirming dismissal of claim that VA destroyed documents and made it impossible for plaintiff to prove his illness because that "claim would require the district court to determine not only that the VA intentionally failed to maintain complete records, but also whether, but for the missing records, Rosen should have been awarded disability benefits"). The same is true of a claim that the acts of VA officials led or leads to improper denial of claims. See id. As the Sixth Circuit held in considering a similar challenge to VA procedures, in order to review plaintiffs' claims, this Court "would need to review individual claims for veterans benefits, the manner in which they were processed, and the decisions rendered by the regional office of the VA and the BVA. This type of review falls within the exclusive jurisdiction of the [CAVC] as defined by [38 U.S.C.] 7252(a)." Beamon, 125 F.3d at 970-71. Thus, this Court should not accept plaintiffs' invitation to review the legality and constitutionality of the procedures that the VA uses to decide benefits claims. Such a challenge raises questions of law and fact regarding the appropriate methods for the adjudication of veterans' claims for benefits. Determining the proper procedures for claim adjudication is a necessary precursor to deciding veterans benefits claims. Under 511(a), the VA Secretary shall decide this type of question. Beamon, 125 F.3d at 970. See also Moore, 582 F.2d at 1232-33.10 The only category of cases that has arguably been excepted from the preclusive effect of the current Section 511 is facial constitutional challenges to veterans' benefits legislation. See Larrabee, 968 F.2d at 1501 ("[a]lthough district courts continue to have `jurisdiction to hear facial challenges of legislation affecting veterans' benefits,' other constitutional and statutory claims P laintiffs are not without any recourse, however they merely cannot meet their b u rd en to establish subject matter jurisdiction in this Court. Pursuant to 38 U.S.C. 7261(a), the C A V C has recognized its authority to decide constitutional issues arising with respect to benefit d ecisio n s under laws administered by the VA. See, e.g., Buzinski v. Brown, 6 Vet. App. 360, 364 (1 9 9 4); Saunders v. Brown, 4 Vet. App. 320, 326-27 (1993); Dacoron v. Brown, 4 Vet. App. 115, 1 1 9 (1993). In addition, the Federal Circuit has authority under 38 U.S.C. 7292(d) to review a decision of the CAVC involving that court's interpretation of a constitutional provision. See A lb u n v. Brown, 9 F.3d 1528, 1530 (Fed. Cir. 1993) (citing Federal Circuit decisions which have rev iew ed CAVC decisions involving constitutional questions); Beamon, 125 F.3d at 970-71. C a s e No. C 07-3758-SC M e m o r a n d u m in Support of Defendants' Motion to Dismiss 10 -13- 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 must be pursued within the appellate mill Congress established in the VJRA"), quoting Disabled American Veterans v. U.S. Dep't of Veterans Affairs, 962 F.2d 136, 140 (2d Cir. 1992) ("DAV"); Hicks, 961 F.2d at 1370 (the VJRA scope of review provisions "amply evince Congress's intent to include all issues, even constitutional ones, necessary to a decision which affects benefits in

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