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Nutter precedent-setting pro bono case securing increased access to health benefits for veterans

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05.05.2015

In a precedent-setting decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, Nutter attorney Jessica Alfano Powell won a legal appeal that will secure greater access to benefits for veterans suffering from service-related tinnitus, a chronic hearing condition. Of the thousands of appeals the Court receives each year, not many reach the point of creating new precedent.

The appeal was filed on behalf of a U.S. Army veteran whose hearing was injured in a training exercise during service. The injury resulted in tinnitus, a chronic ringing in the ears that often develops from exposure to loud sounds. While he is service-connected for hearing loss related to the incident, he has been unable to access benefits for his tinnitus due to the burden of proving the condition was the result of his service. But the appeal decision, Fountain v. McDonald, creates a new lower threshold of proof, making it easier for veterans to become eligible for benefits for service-related tinnitus.

In October of last year, 14 Nutter attorneys, including Powell, participated in a regional training offered by the National Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Program in preparation for trying cases related to veterans’ issues.

“It is truly an honor for our firm to have tried this case on behalf of our client,” said Kenneth Berman, chair of the Nutter Pro Bono Committee, which is strongly committed to veterans’ issues. “I know I speak for the whole firm when I thank Jessica for applying hard work and her legal expertise to this important issue. It will make an enormous difference to the countless other veterans who face similar hurdles.”

About Nutter McClennen & Fish LLP
Nutter McClennen & Fish LLP is a Boston-based law firm that provides high level legal counsel to clients who range from well-established companies and institutions to early stage entrepreneurs to foundations and families. The firm, co-founded by Louis D. Brandeis, who later became a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, has been in continuous practice for 135 years.

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