March 7, 2011: Finkelstein & Partners Celebrates Supreme Court Triumph

NEWBURGH – When it comes to protecting the rights of our nation’s heroes, the Veterans Service Group at Finkelstein & Partners, one of New York State’s largest personal injury and veterans’ rights law firms, takes the job very seriously. In fact, they’ll even take it to the Supreme Court.
Andrew G. Finkelstein, the law firm’s managing partner, announced this week that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 8 – 0 in favor of Mr. David L. Henderson, a Korean War veteran. The court in, Henderson v. Shineski, decided that the right to “equitable tolling,” a law which says that equitable issues can be considered when deadlines have passed, is available to Veterans.
Mr. Henderson filed an appeal from the denial of service connected benefits. Unfortunately he missed the 120 day deadline for filing his meritorious appeal with the Veterans Court by just 15 days. As a result, he was denied the benefits he had earned as a serviceman. This despite the fact that he had physician documentation stating his service-connected mental illness prevented him from meeting the deadline. Mr. Henderson then sought legal assistance to appeal the Veterans Court’s decision. A federal court also denied Mr. Henderson’s claim, ruling that the deadline was “jurisdictional” and therefore no allowances could be made for a missed deadline.
Working closely with the National Organization of Veterans’ Advocates (NOVA) in support of Mr. Henderson’s claim, members of F&P’s Veterans Services Group, attorneys George A. Kohl, Duncan W. Clark and Nancy Morgan, prepared an Amicus (Friends of the Court) brief in support of Henderson’s petition for a Writ of Certiorari requesting that the Supreme Court consider taking the case. The Court, which agrees to hear only a handful of cases each year, granted the team their Writ of Certiorari. The case was argued before the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. in December 2010. The decision was handed down just this week. The unanimous court ruled in favor of Henderson.
“I am incredibly proud of the great work accomplished by Finkelstein & Partners’ Veterans Service Group and NOVA on behalf of Mr. Henderson and all of our nation’s veterans,” said Finkelstein. “To have this case accepted by the Supreme Court is a great accomplishment. To have the highest court in the land rule unanimously in this veteran’s favor is extraordinary,” Finkelstein added. “This ruling will safeguard the rights of all veterans and ensure they receive the benefits for which they made great personal sacrifices to earn.”
Sadly, Mr. Henderson did not live to reap the benefits of this triumphant ruling; he passed away last fall. He now leaves a legacy, however, that will have far-reaching benefits for our nation’s veterans. The deadline for veterans to file claims will be determined using equitable factors, not an arbitrary deadline determined by an administrative body.

Dear Friends and Clients,

In furtherance of our firm’s culture of commitment to always act with compassion, concern and commitment to our clients, community and colleagues, we have been taking precautions to ensure that we are still fulfilling our ethical and moral obligations while prioritizing health, wellness and safety of all we can.

As you know, the COVID-19 pandemic has introduced changes to many lives and businesses in our communities, and around the world. We, much like our neighbors and friends, have been taking precautions to ensure that we are still fulfilling our ethical and moral obligation to our clients, while also prioritizing the health, wellness and safety of our employees.

Until further notice, our offices will be closed to the public to encourage social distancing and to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Our team is still hard at work, many from home, and you may still call, email, live chat or video conference us if you or a loved one is seeking legal assistance. As the first law firm to offer our clients secure online access to their case file more than a decade ago, we have always been believers in using technology to make life easier and information more accessible. In these present times it has been a smooth transition for us to continue to offer our clients the same seamless and thorough service that you deserve and are accustomed to.

This pandemic is unlike anything any of us have faced in our lifetimes, and while we can continue to emotionally support one another through it all, staying home and keeping your distance is vital to the health and wellness of our communities. It does not feel good to break routines, cancel events and retreat from our normal, day-to-day socializing, but let us remember that, in times of strife, prior generations were asked to go to war and we are simply being asked to stay home. Your isolation equals more lives saved, and more time for medical providers to prepare for the treatment of patients battling COVID-19.

When the dust settles, we will join together with a greater appreciation for our lives, local businesses, loved ones and health. Until then, we will continue to offer guidance from a safe distance.

Very truly yours,

Andrew G. Finkelstein and the staff of Finkelstein & Partners, LLP