The Board Erred When It Did Not Seek A Medical Opinion
The Court reversed the Board’s finding that it was not obligated to seek a medical opinion in this case. The Board concluded that the claimant, a widow, had not submitted sufficient evidence to indicate that the Veteran’s esophageal cancer, which had caused his death, was likely to due to his herbicide exposure in service. It found that for this reason there was no obligation to assist the claimant by seeking a medical opinion. The Court disagreed citing the evidence provided by the claimant, including her testimony, and found that the evidence did in fact establish that there was a reasonable possibility a medical opinion could substantiate the claim. The Court also rejected the Board’s argument that simply because esophageal cancer is not presumed to be related to herbicides there is no indication that the disease may be related to such exposure. The Court ordered the Board to obtain a medical opinion on remand.