Federal Court Approves Cobell Settlement; Fairness Hearing in June 2011

From BLT:

A federal judge in Washington this afternoon preliminarily approved a landmark $3.4 billion settlement in a longstanding class action litigation over the mismanagement of trust fund assets for hundreds of thousands of Native Americans.

Lawyers for lead plaintiff Elouise Cobell and a team of Justice and Interior Department attorneys urged Senior Judge Thomas Hogan to approve the deal. Hogan’s order kicks off a comprehensive notice plan to inform potentially 600,000 beneficiaries of the deal between the plaintiffs and the government.

Hogan and the opposing lawyers today in court recounted what they described as arms-length negotiations that produced a settlement in December 2009 to compensate individual Indians with trust assets held by the federal government. Cobell’s suit, filed in 1996 in Washington’s federal trial court, alleged decades of mismanagement of trust fund assets stemming from the use of land for oil, minerals, gas, timber and other resources.

The settlement required congressional authorization. After a year kicking around the House and Senate, Congress approved the settlement last month and President Barack Obama signed off on the deal earlier this month.

Justice Department attorney Robert Kirschman Jr. called the settlement a fair deal for the plaintiffs and for taxpayers.

A lead attorney for Cobell, Washington solo practitioner Dennis Gingold, said it’s the plaintiffs’ desire to move swiftly to implement the settlement. “Every step is important, and this was an important step,” Gingold said after the hearing.

Today, Hogan designated J.P. Morgan as the qualifying bank at the request of Cobell’s lawyers. The judge also authorized $20 million to launch a notice program in January to inform potential beneficiaries about the settlement. A fairness hearing is scheduled for next June.


2 thoughts on “Federal Court Approves Cobell Settlement; Fairness Hearing in June 2011

  1. Stephen Vaile April 6, 2011 / 9:38 am

    When this suit was first filed by Elouise, I supported her and her purported intention to extract some semblence of justice for ALL native people.
    I admired her tenacity and contributed financially to the effort to move the case through the labyrinth of United States courts.

    When a deal was finally struck with the Obama administration and it appeared that resolution and finality would be immenent I was overjoyed and
    very proud of Ms. Cobell.

    Now it is revealed that the plaintiff lawyers (I refuse to speak their despicable names) and Elouise want to hijack and hold hostage the dreams
    of hundreds of thousands of Native People so they can get more money! Outrageous, reprehensible and duplicitous; decorum and civility prevent me
    from using the language I am thinking. At this point I want the whole rotten deal killed! The lousy appoximately $2000.00 (plus land buy back)
    is not worth making Elouise a millionaire or compensating her mouth piece lawyer friends.

    My disappointment that Elouise has turned out to be just another Indian turncoat shill is very aggregious to my heart. Elouise you are just like all
    the other Indian leader crooks (some of whom were and are my blood relatives) who have raided the coffers of the tribes for your own advantage.

    If I can sue to stop this action (the entire settlement) I am going to do it, and I am going to contact and urge every member of congress to
    take action to kill it.

    To wait until the 11th hour to reveal your true intentions is absolutely loathsome. Shame on you Elouise. In our (Blackfoot) oldest tradition
    you should be banished from the tribe!

    Stephen Vaile
    Rising Wolf

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