Prinkey v. Shinseki, 735 F.3d 1375 (Fed. Cir. Nov. 19, 2013)
The question of whether a medical opinion is adequate is a question of fact and, therefore, beyond the Federal Circuit’s jurisdiction.
In this case, the veteran was awarded service connection for Type II diabetes due to Agent Orange exposure in 2003. He sought to reopen his claim in 2005. On review of his file, a nurse practitioner discovered that Mr. Prinkey had a pancreatectomy in 1994 – two years before his diabetes diagnosis. The regional office (RO) obtained an opinion from an endocrinologist stating that his diabetes was due to the pancreatectomy and not Agent Orange exposure, and subsequently severed the award of service connection. The Board of Veterans’ Appeals and the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC) affirmed the RO’s decision.
On appeal to the Federal Circuit, the Court held that it lacked jurisdiction to review the CAVC’s assessment of the adequacy of the medical opinion because that was a question of fact. The Federal Circuit determined that the appellant’s other two arguments lacked merit, and affirmed the CAVC’s decision.