Terry O’Toole Secures Pro Bono Victory for Vietnam Veteran

Terry O’Toole won a victory in a pro bono case before the Board of Veterans’ Appeals in Washington, D.C., on behalf of a Vietnam Veteran who served in the United States Navy, including time aboard the U.S.S. Newman K. Perry. It was on that vessel that Mr. O’Toole’s client sustained back injuries and was exposed to Agent Orange. Those incidents are the subject of the attached decision of the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, which chronicles the Veteran’s 40-plus year attempt to overcome an incorrect decision to deny him benefits for these service-related injuries.

While the Veteran was serving on the U.S.S. Perry during November, 1966, that vessel engaged in operations in the Mekong River Delta and Saigon River. O’Toole established that the U.S.S. Perry was engaged in operations in that area through deck logs maintained aboard that vessel. On the basis of those records, which corroborated the Veteran’s account, together with the fact that the U.S.S. Perry is also among Navy and Coast Guard ships associated with exposure to herbicide agents, the Board found that the Perry was operating on the inland waterways of Vietnam from November 23-28, 1966, and the Veteran therefore served within the Republic of Vietnam. Given his location of service, the Board determined that the Veteran was exposed to Agent Orange and thus entitled to a presumption that the laryngeal cancer from which he suffered was service-related.

In addition, the Board reversed decisions denying benefits to the Veteran for a back injury suffered on the same vessel. Amazingly, the Board’s decision reversed prior repeated denials of benefits that date all the way back to his original application for benefits in 1967. Needless to say, the decision will have a major impact on the Veteran’s life. On remand to the Department of Veteran’s Affairs Regional Office in Louisville, Kentucky, there remains a possibility that the Veteran could be awarded retroactive disability benefits originating from the date of the original denial of benefits in connection with his back injury aboard the U.S.S. Perry.

Dowd Bennett is proud of this pro bono victory earned by Mr. O’Toole and finds it gratifying for the positive outcome to be for the benefit of such a deserving Veteran of the United States Navy.

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