Breeden v. Principi
U.S. Court of Appeals
For Veterans Claims
Monday, November 17, 2003 1:30 pm
Washington College of Law
Mooers Morella Ceremonial Courtroom 603
Case Time Facts & Issues
Breeden Oral The appellant, Mark W. Breeden, appeals from the
Argument August 27, 2001, Board of Veterans' Appeals
v. (Board or BVA) decision that remanded to the
Principi 1:30 pm
originating regional office (RO) his claim for
service connection for post-traumatic stress
Q&A disorder (PTSD)
Judges Hearing the Case:
Chief Judge Kramer, Judge Farley, and Judge Ivers (’71 WCL)
Arguing the case for Mr. Breeden is Barbara J. Cook, Esq.
Arguing for the Secretary is Cristine D. Senseman, Esq.
American University Washington College of Law
Oral Argument to be Presented Before the
U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims
The United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (Court) will hear oral argument
in the case of Breeden v. Principi, at the American University Washington College of
Law, in the Mooers Morella Ceremonial Courtroom, on Monday, November 17, 2003, at
1:30 p.m. All faculty and students are invited to this special event. A reception will
The appellant, Mark W. Breeden, appeals from the August 27, 2001, Board of Veterans'
Appeals (Board or BVA) decision that remanded to the originating regional office (RO)
his claim for service connection for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This appeal
involves the Court's jurisdiction, a significant threshold issue.
Mr. Breeden served on active duty from December 1968 to March 1970, including a tour
of duty in Vietnam. In a decision dated in July 2000, the BVA denied service connection
for PTSD, finding that Mr. Breeden did not engage in combat in Vietnam and that,
although PTSD had been diagnosed, credible evidence that his claimed in-service
stressors had actually occurred had not been presented. Mr. Breeden appealed to the
Court, and on appeal the parties filed a joint motion for remand, requesting further
evidentiary development by VA. By order issued January 16, 2001, the Court granted
the motion and vacated in part the July 2000 Board decision and remanded the PTSD
claim. In its August 27, 2001, decision following remand, the BVA directed the RO to
obtain additional evidence and to schedule Mr. Breeden for an examination by a VA
psychiatrist, who was directed to consider only particular, specifically identified stressors.
Mr. Breeden filed a Notice of Appeal to the Court, submitting that the BVA remand, (1) by
limiting what the RO could consider, in effect denies service connection for PTSD
"except insofar as PTSD is related only to specific stressors" set forth in the Board's list
and (2) implicitly determines that the veteran did not participate in combat and that the
veteran's other stressors could not be verified.
He further argues that the Court has jurisdiction because the portions of the August 2001
Board decision as to participation in combat and confirmed stressors are final and
adverse. He states that, left unchanged, those purported BVA decisions violate the
Court's January 2001 remand order. He also argues that this case fits within the
exceptions to the finality doctrine. See Williams v. Principi, 275 F.3d 1361 (Fed. Cir.
2002) (discussing rule of finality and exceptions thereto).
If and when a final Board decision is issued, the Secretary argues, any matter
determined in such a decision may be appealed as of right, without any limitation on the
Court's jurisdiction. The Secretary further argues that the appellant has not shown that
the August 2001 BVA decision is unalterably inconsistent with the Court's January 2001
The panel hearing the case consists of Chief Judge Kramer, Judge Farley, and Judge
Ivers. Arguing the case for Mr. Breeden is Barbara J. Cook, Esq. Arguing for the
Secretary is Cristine D. Senseman, Esq. Each side has been allotted one half-hour to
argue. The appellant will argue first.