On April 14, a bipartisan coalition of state attorneys general from across the country joined forces to protect the rights of military veterans, which if successful would secure full educational benefits potentially worth billions of dollars for about 1.7 million post-9/11-era veterans and counting. Virginia AG Jason Miyares led the coalition of 33 states and the District of Columbia in filing an amici brief with the U.S. Supreme Court, urging the Court to safeguard veterans’ educational benefits and reaffirm the pro-veteran canon of construction, which traces its roots to the founding of the United States. Troutman Pepper’s State Attorneys General and Appellate + Supreme Court practices played a pivotal role in securing this bipartisan coalition, leveraging the firm’s extensive experience and expertise in handling high-profile legal matters involving state AGs and before the Supreme Court. The veteran is also represented pro bono by Troutman Pepper attorneys Timothy McHugh, Misha Tseytlin, Kevin LeRoy, Abbey Thornhill, and Trey Smith, among others, and David DePippo from Dominion Energy.
The case at hand, Rudisill v. McDonough, revolves around decorated veteran James Rudisill and his fight to obtain full educational benefits under the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Mr. Rudisill, a current FBI agent, has been tirelessly advocating for the Department of Veterans Affairs to rectify the way it calculates veterans’ entitlements to educational benefits. The VA’s flawed methodology has resulted in veterans like Mr. Rudisill being shortchanged on the benefits they rightfully deserve, depriving them of opportunities for higher education and career advancement. Last month, Troutman Pepper attorneys filed a petition for a writ of certiorari in the Supreme Court, asking it to review the en banc decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in the case.
In the amici brief recently filed by the states, AG Miyares and the bipartisan coalition of state AGs expressed their unwavering support for Mr. Rudisill’s cause, emphasizing the need to correct the VA’s erroneous practices and ensure that veterans receive the full extent of their educational benefits as intended by Congress. Among other things, the states’ brief focuses on the states’ significant interests in ensuring that veterans residing within their jurisdictions receive all federal veterans’ educational benefits to which they are entitled. As AG Miyares explained in his own press release about the case, “Veterans like James Rudisill represent the very best of America and of Virginia. But rather than support his desire to find new ways to lay his life on the line and serve his country, the Federal Circuit took away both James Rudisill and thousands of other post 9/11 veterans’ GI education benefits. Over 700,000 veterans live in the Commonwealth of Virginia. This decision actively hurts veterans’ reentry into civilian life and deprives them of earned benefits.”
Numerous other stakeholders are also closely watching the case joined in by the states veterans’ advocacy groups, a major industry association that relies heavily on hiring of veterans, and affected veterans also filed supporting amici briefs. The case has also been watched closely by the media. Last month alone, the Chicago Sun-Times published an in-depth analysis of Mr. Rudisill and his case by Stephanie Zimmermann, an award-winning investigative reporter who focuses on consumer issues, resulting in the national newspaper’s editorial board call for the Supreme Court to take up the case.
Troutman Pepper’s nationally recognized state AG practice is known for its unparalleled access to and understanding of the shifting regulatory climates in every state AGO in the nation. Combining its strong bipartisan relationships with senior prosecutorial staff of Democratic and Republican AG offices nationwide with a visible presence representing clients at the premier national AG organizations’ conferences, the team builds effective coalitions for the benefit of both their clients and the AGOs.
While sharing unique insights gleaned from their strong AGO relationships with clients to keep them in compliance with the regulatory priorities in each jurisdiction, the team proactively advocates on enforcement issues that directly impact their clients and educates AGOs on behalf of their clients’ pro-consumer protection efforts. One example is the team’s persuasive advocacy on behalf of a major tobacco company in connection with amending the industrywide master settlement agreement.
The group’s respect and esteem among AGOs is further credentialled by its wealth of senior government regulatory experience, which includes three former state solicitors general, a former state AG, four former deputy AGs, a former deputy solicitor general, two former assistant AGs, as well as attorneys with a variety of other governmental backgrounds.
 AG Miyares’ brief was joined by the following states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, and the District of Columbia.
Troutman Pepper State Attorneys General Team
|Ashley Taylor – Co-leader and Firm Vice Chair |
Ashley is a partner in the firm’s Regulatory Investigations, Strategy + Enforcement (RISE) Practice Group and co-leader of the State Attorneys General practice. He focuses primarily on federal and state government regulatory and enforcement matters involving state attorneys general, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Drawing upon his experience as a deputy attorney general, Ashley has developed an extensive consumer practice with regard to the consumer financial services industry.
|Clay Friedman – Co-leader |
Clay is a partner in the firm’s Regulatory Investigations, Strategy + Enforcement (RISE) Practice Group and co-leader of the State Attorneys General practice. Informed by nearly a decade in a state attorneys general office, and more than 25 years in private practice, Clay spends much of his time representing clients in singular or multistate regulatory actions. Clay has repeatedly led teams before all 50 state attorneys general and also handles matters with the Federal Trade Commission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and other local, state and federal agencies.
|Stephen Piepgrass |
Stephen represents clients interacting with, and being investigated by, state attorneys general and other enforcement bodies, including the CFPB and FTC, as well as clients involved with litigation, particularly in heavily regulated industries.
|Avi Schick |
A former deputy attorney general of New York, Avi applies his experience in bet-the-company matters, representing clients in criminal and civil investigations and enforcement actions before state and federal regulators, prosecutors and enforcement agencies.
|Michael Yaghi |
Michael handles high-profile state attorneys general, FTC, and CFPB investigations by advising clients through these complex government inquiries. He assists clients through the entire life cycle of investigations, from regulatory enforcement through formal litigation.
|Ketan Bhirud |
As a former government official at the state and federal level, Ketan leverages extensive experience in the public and private sectors to skillfully represent client interests.
|Tim Bado |
Tim is an attorney in the firm’s Regulatory Investigations, Strategy + Enforcement (RISE) Practice Group, with a primary focus on financial services litigation.
|Chris Carlson |
Chris represents clients in regulatory, civil and criminal investigations and litigation. In his practice, Chris regularly employs his prior regulatory experience to benefit clients who are interacting with and being investigated by state attorneys general.
|Natalia Jacobo |
Natalia is an associate in the firm’s business litigation practice. She recently received her J.D from the University of California, Davis School of Law.
|Namrata Kang |
Namrata is an associate in the firm’s Regulatory Investigations, Strategy + Enforcement (RISE) Practice Group, based in the Washington, D.C. office. Her work includes advising clients in regulatory investigations and compliance matters, in addition to representing clients in civil litigation matters.
|Susan Nikdel |
Susan is an associate in the firm’s Consumer Financial Services Practice Group, and focuses her practice on consumer financial services matters. She has defended several of the nation’s largest and most influential financial institutions in individual and class action litigation involving the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), and other consumer privacy statutes. Susan also represents banks, fintechs, and financial services companies in connection with regulatory examinations and investigations brought by the CFPB, state attorneys general, and the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation.
|John Sample |
John represents clients in a wide variety of general and complex litigation matters, shareholder disputes, products liability, and privacy claims.
|Whitney Shephard |
Whitney is an attorney in the firm’s Regulatory Investigations, Strategy + Enforcement (RISE) Practice Group. She represents clients facing state and federal regulatory investigations and enforcement actions, as well as related civil litigation.
|Trey Smith |
Trey is an associate in the firm’s Regulatory Investigations, Strategy + Enforcement practice. His experience includes serving as a summer associate at the firm in 2021.
|Daniel Waltz |
An experienced litigator, Daniel advises and represents regional, national and international companies, financial institutions and insurers in all facets of business, complex commercial and insurance coverage litigation. He is committed to working with his clients to find creative solutions to meet their needs.
|Stephanie Kozol |
Stephanie is Troutman Pepper’s senior government relations manager in the state attorneys general department.