Canada court allows disabled veteran class action to continue

[JURIST] A judge for the Supreme Court of British Columbia [official website] on Friday declined to dismiss a class action lawsuit filed by disabled members of the Canadian military seeking to invalidate a veteran compensation law that limits payments to disabled veterans. Last year disabled veterans joined together to challenge the constitutionality of the 2005 New Veterans Charter (NVC) [government backgrounder], which gave disabled soldiers capped one-time payments in lieu of lifetime monthly payments. The veterans assert that the NVC's lump-sum payment system fails to adequately provide for disabled veterans returning from the war in Afghanistan. The Attorney General of Canada [official website] filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that the plaintiffs failed to make out a winnable claim. Justice Gordon Weatherill, however, denied the motion, emphasizing that the case raises important issues [Canadian Press report] regarding the government's promises to compensate injured service members. The court ordered the government to file a response to the plaintiffs' complaint.

Veterans' rights remain a controversial issue around the globe, especially in the US. Earlier this month the US Department of Justice (DOJ) announced [JURIST report] that it will no longer enforce a federal law that denies same-sex spouses veterans benefits in light of the US Supreme Court's decision to invalidate Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act. In August a judge for the US District Court for the Central District of California held [JURIST report] that Title 38's exclusion of same-sex spouses from veteran's benefits is unconstitutional. Tracey Cooper-Harris, a 12-year Army veteran, sued the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) after it denied her fully disability benefits because she is married to a woman. In January the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) announced a settlement [JURIST report] with the federal government providing full separation payment to service members discharged under the controversial Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT) policy.

 

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