E&U is proud to announce that Jacqueline Schuh was selected a 2016 Attorney of the Year by Minnesota Lawyer
Jacqueline M. Schuh is an attorney at Engelmeier & Umanah, P.A.’s office located in St. Cloud, Minnesota. Jackie grew up in St. Cloud and has practiced law in outstate Minnesota for over 27 years. She has worked in areas of estates, trusts and probate, business law and succession planning, healthcare and employment law, and litigation related to all of these areas.
Jackie also served over 20 years in the Minnesota Army and Air Guard as a Judge Advocate General (JAG), including over 7 years of active duty service. At the time of retirement, Jackie had reached the rank of Lt. Colonel. Though she retired from the military in 2008, she remains in an Inactive Ready Reserve status.
The most recent example of Jackie’s service to veterans, Staab v. Veterans Administration, has been published in upwards of 17 newspapers because of its impact and importance on veteran health benefit issues. Jackie was the first lawyer to represent Richard Staab, a now 84 year old veteran who has been fighting for health benefits due him for years.
The case involves Mr. Staab, who served in the Air Force from 1952 to 1956, and his wife, who had been diagnosed and suffering with MS. Mrs. Staab, who had been receiving care for many years, in long-term care at a St. Cloud facility, was taken from the facility by Mr. Staab so the two could celebrate their wedding anniversary. When returning Mrs. Staab to the facility, and at the very time he dropped her off, Mr. Staab suffered a heart attack. He was sent via ambulance to the St. Cloud Hospital for care and treatment. While he was receiving care at the St. Cloud Hospital, Mr. Staab suffered a major stroke which left him unable to communicate or perform his own daily cares. Though he survived the heart attack and stroke, Mr. Staab needed approximately six months of follow-up rehabilitation and care to get back on his feet. For this rehabilitation, Mr. Staab was transferred to the same long-term facility where his wife was receiving care.
After Mr. Staab was released and could resume his life outside the facility, he was hit with over $48,000.00 in bills from the hospitalization and subsequent long-term rehabilitation. He only had his Social Security, a small military disability payment for income and about $50,000.00 in savings. Despite his limited means, Mr. Staab paid the entire amount. After conferring with Jackie, the appeals for Mr. Staab to recoup these out-of-pocket payments began. The first two appeals were with the St. Cloud VA healthcare facility and resulted in denials. On the third appeal, Jackie argued the case in front of a Washington, DC Judge via teleconference. The position of the VA was: (a) Mr. Staab’s need for care was “not emergent”; (b) he failed to seek prior approval for care outside the VA system; and (c) he was a recipient of Medicare, a third-party payor entitlement precluding him from VA coverage. Jackie argued all reasons the VA relied on to deny benefits were ridiculous. First, if Mr. Staab did not need “emergency care” (as a person suffering a life-threatening heart attack that required travel by ambulance for health care and then a major stroke), then what would qualify one for “emergent care”? Second, how could a man who was unable to communicate be expected to seek prior approval? Third, the VA had an internal rule that was inconsistent with the law, which required reimbursement for his care. When Mr. Staab did not prevail on this third attempt, Jackie did not give up, she got help. Shortly after the third denial, coordination of the next appeal was achieved through one of the local American Legions which connected Jackie and Mr. Staab with the National Veterans Legal Services Program-an agency with several attorneys who were in a position to advance the arguments in the next level of a Washington, DC appeals court. Jackie continued to work on the case, assisting the National Veterans Legal Service Program. The case was briefed and the Court issued its Order in April of this year; Mr. Staab prevailed! The Court found that Mr. Staab should not have been denied benefits and ordered the VA to reimburse his out of pocket expenses. Unfortunately, the VA appealed this decision and Mr. Staab’s counsel hope and expect Mr. Staab will also prevail on that appeal. Jackie, together with her colleagues, Sheryl Jansen and Jean Eisenschenk, continues to work on the case to today. (For example, she is now seeking a medical recommendation to expedite the proceeding given his failing health.)
This victory on behalf of Mr. Staab is so significant because it paves the way for not only him, but hundreds of thousands of other veterans, to get reimbursement for unfairly denied benefits. This is a significant issue for the veterans who have served our country. Jackie has been and continues to be a valiant soldier in their fight.
Jackie joins 2015 Attorneys of the Year from E&U, Sheila Engelmeier, Tom Marshall, Sue Fischer in providing excellent, client-focused service to the Twin Cities and outstate Minnesota.