Case: Peake v. Sanders

Date: Monday Dec. 8, 2008

Issue: To what extent do Veterans Administration hospitals have to assist veterans making medical claims?

Background: Woodrow Sanders is a World War II veteran who shortly after retiring from the Army went to a Veterans Administration hospital complaining of vision loss in his right eye. Sanders contends a 1944 bazooka blast in Germany is the reason for his poor eyesight. The VA doctor was unable to determine the cause of vision loss and denied his claim. Decades later, Sanders would again seek VA assistance for his condition. Once again the VA denied the claim determining the medical evidence available wasn't sufficient to warrant assistance.

Sanders then appealed the VA ruling through the process established for resolving disputes. Part of that process allows for veterans to introduce new evidence to help their cases. His early appeals were again denied. Eventually Sanders found success arguing the VA failed to adequately assist him in his efforts to obtain new and medically significant evidence. A 2000 law requires the VA to help clients in their efforts to process claims. The VA is appealing the adverse judgment to the High Court saying veterans making claims of error by the agency must themselves bear the burden of proof and must also show that the mistake was "prejudicial" in nature.

A number of veterans groups have come out in support of Sanders, including the American Legion and the Military Order of the Purple Heart. They write to the Court that the VA "repeatedly violates" its responsibilities in assisting veterans. They further claim the consequence of the VA's actions is that "veterans are left either to unwittingly abandon the benefits to which, in fact, they are lawfully entitled or to navigate a daunting, sometimes overwhelming, time-consuming appellate review process."

Case: Pacific Bell v. Linkline Communications

Date: Monday Dec. 8, 2008

Issue: Whether a plaintiff states a claim under the Sherman Act by alleging that the defendant — a vertically integrated retail competitor with an alleged monopoly at the wholesale level but no antitrust duty to provide the wholesale input to competitors — engaged in a price squeeze by leaving insufficient margin between wholesale and retail prices to allow the plaintiff to compete.

Background: AT&T is the primary holder of DSL services in California. It also offers these services at the retail level but is legally obligated to also wholesale the lines to other retailers. Linkline alleges AT&T is wholesaling DSL lines at such a high cost that it effectively squeezes them out of making a profit. AT&T is trying to have the case dismissed but so far lower courts have ruled against them. AT&T argues the charges they assess Linkline are within the bounds of legal operations as defined by the Sherman Antitrust Act. But the Ninth Circuit concluded that Act isn't exhaustive in assessing antitrust claims. It concluded the lawsuit filed by Linkline merits further review.