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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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Comments

jemsd Sept. 5, 2013 @ 1:09 p.m.

Honestly, why are these people receiving disability benefits? Why are half the people I see weekday fishing or in the bars drinking receiving SSI benefits? Why are there attorneys who advertise on TV limiting their practice solely to "advocate" for these people? An awful lot of SS tax comes out of my paycheck every week. I'm supposed to support these people because they have back problems or drug problems, their slow learners or might have Fibromyalgia? Front of the line for medicaid, free cell phones and a service dog if you need one? Obviously, there is a residue of people who truly need help and benefit from this expensive freebie, but c'mon it's a scam handed down from generation to generation, at least a big slice of it is. Eternal optimist that I am ( no, really), I can see that that american pie is going to be around for a long, long time.

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FatCatSegat Sept. 5, 2013 @ 8:16 p.m.

Actually my flawed gem from SD, If you do a little research, you'll find that ss won't be around when us natural born citizens need it and a little more research will tell you why. Why do attorneys offer their services? Because an attorney is an advocate and a capitalist as well. So let me get this straight. According to you my precious stone, real americans don't fish, don't go to bars, don't have back or drug problems. don't get fibromyalgia or are slow learners right. Only "these people" get medicaid, free phones, or service dogs. You're an optimist? God, I would hate to see you get pessimistic. Oh, this last one was a jewel. Accoring to you this is a generational scam like a part of "their" culture, right? Okay. I think I know this one. I don't think that you know the difference between optimism or hate because all the hate and fear mongering rhetoric that is repeated daily on the Limbaugh or Hedgecock show, you almost repeated verbatim. Face it, you're a racist whos afraid of something you don't even know. You've assimilated some moron's opinion and mistaken it for fact. Of course, you were at the pier fishing, at the bar drinking, at the doctor's office being diagnosed with Fibromyalgia to first hand witness this, right? Maybe I'm just a slow learner? No really!

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Visduh Sept. 5, 2013 @ 9:26 p.m.

Without getting into this fray, I'd like to make notice of one thing. This woman is the "only" local attorney fluent in Vietnamese? That is a ludicrous claim. With all of the tens or hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese folks in this county there's only one attorney who can speak the lingo? I'd guess that there are dozens, nay hundreds, of Vietnamese speakers who have attended universities and then progressed to law school, the bar exam, and have entered practice. It might be interesting to know the ethnicity of this woman with her mish-mash name of Western and Vietnamese parts. But that isn't essential to the story. The real story is one that isn't being reported. That only this attorney represents those claimants is a scandal. What about all the other attorneys--there are many--who can communicate with Vietnamese speaking clients? Where are they? Why do these folks make the nonsensical claim that there are no other similarly skilled attorneys to represent them? This story just doesn't make sense.

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FatCatSegat Sept. 5, 2013 @ 9:42 p.m.

Agreed, the argument won't fly for the same reasons Visduh cited. Language barrier is a weak argument as there are State, and Federally certified interpreters that can handle that aspect. You of course must realize the tight knit community involved here that is quite alien to us Dog Eat Doggers. Sure, there could be some deceit and misinformation, (from a lawyer?!) to simply remain on the case thus getting people in an uproar creating "class action" lawsuits. Just keep me in the game, baby. However, could be some cronyism going on as well. Why remove the litigator? What did he do? Good point Visduh.

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NoelZ Dec. 24, 2013 @ 2:09 p.m.

I have knowledge about this attorney. First, she does not live in San Diego--she lives in New York state and rarely travels to San Diego. Second, her clients are "represented" by her elderly Vietnamese mother, who is not an attorney. Third, the clients are charged fees outside of what is appropriate or legal. The attorney and her mother claim to be helping their community, but what they really do is prey upon a vulnerable population and use them for profit. I hope all of this is demonstrated in the hearing and that they end up losing not only their unfounded class action claim, but that Ms. Manbeck is suspended or severely reprimanded by the state bar for her false representation of people who have never met or even spoken to her.

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