Jeff Smith 6:35 p.m., June 27
Class action suit caused retaliatory suspension, claims class action suit
Clients protest San Diego's only Vietnamese-speaking lawyer being barred from representing them in Social Security cases
Hundreds of disabled Vietnamese refugees in San Diego have filed a second class action suit in federal court, claiming that Alexandra Nga Tran Manbeck, the only local attorney fluent in Vietnamese, was suspended as retaliation for an earlier class action claiming bias on behalf of a Social Security judge.
Last March Manbeck, who had been “providing indispensable representation to the Vietnamese plaintiffs who would otherwise be shut out of court by virtue of her fluency in the Vietnamese language,” according to the new complaint, was blocked by the Social Security Administration and Social Security Commissioner Carolyn W. Colvin’s office from practicing Social Security law.
Lead plaintiff Truyen Gia Phan, representing a class of more than 1000 “poor, disabled and non-English speaking Vietnamese former prisoner[s] of war and refugees in the United States" who have applied or will apply for Social Security benefits” who had used Manbeck for counsel, says that Manbeck’s ability to represent Social Security claimants was suspended in retaliation for her filing a suit claiming bias on the part of Administrative Law Judge Eve Godfrey, which was subsequently dismissed. The plaintiffs had argued a “culture of corruption and the culture of cronyism at the San Diego [Office of Disability Adjudication and Review] office.”
Manbeck’s suspension, according to court documents, stems from two charges: filing paper forms when electronic versions were required, and having plaintiffs sign boilerplate forms allowing for remittance of fees to their representative (Manbeck).
The new class is represented by Oceanside attorney Johnathan Capp and Manbeck herself.
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