Court Finds Board Erred When It Favored Negative VA Exams Over Positive Private Exams
CCK recently appealed a Board of Veterans’ Appeals decision that denied a Veteran service-connection for a left knee and low back disorder, including as secondary to or aggravated by his already service-connected right knee disability. In support of his claim for service-connection, the Veteran submitted lay statements and supporting evidence from his private doctors that his service-connected right knee caused limping and alteration of his gait, and this in turn contributed to a left knee and low back disability.
The Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims held that the Board committed legal error by favoring VA examinations that did not support the Veteran’s claim, over private opinions that did. The Court rejected the Board’s determination that the private opinions were not supported by detailed rationale, and that the VA examinations were probative and credible because they were completed by medical specialists. The Court also determined that the Board and the VA examiners made an unsupported assumption that the Veteran did not walk with a limp for 40 years, and failed to adequate consider the Veteran’s lay statements to the contrary. Finally, the Court determined that the Board did not sufficiently explain why the VA examiner’s opinions were adequate, with clear rationale and reasoned medical explanations. The Court vacated the Board’s decision, and remanded the case for further proceedings.