The Norman Transcript

Homepage

May 19, 2014

Frustration grows over $3.4B settlement delay

(Continued)

HELENA, Mont. —

Jennifer Keough, Garden City Group’s executive vice president and chief operating officer, did not return a call for comment.

The attorneys representing the plaintiffs in the class-action lawsuit, recognizing the frustration, plan to ask a federal judge this week to allow the distribution to take place before the appeals are finalized.

“The agreement says that no trust administration class payments can be made until all the members are identified,” said David Smith, an attorney for Kilpatrick, Townsend and Stockton LLP. “There are a lot of appeals, and many are extremely lengthy. We want to make sure everybody has a chance to participate in the settlement and it’s not a rush job.”

At issue is the second of two distributions in one of the largest U.S. government settlements in history, prompted by a lawsuit filed in 1996 by Blackfeet elder Elouise Cobell of Montana. Cobell sued the government after realizing that many Indians who owned land held in trust for them by the government lived in poverty with no accounting of the royalties they were due when the Interior Department leased their land for development, exploration or grazing.

The lawsuit claimed the Interior Department mismanaged and squandered billions of dollars that were supposed to go to the landowners since the 1880s, but incomplete and missing records prevented them from determining how much was lost.

It took about 14 years to reach a settlement with the government, then another year for Congress to approve the deal in December 2010. It wasn’t until December 2012 that all the appeals over the settlement were dismissed and the first monetary distributions were mailed.

Those 339,106 beneficiaries, called the historical accounting class, received a flat payment of $1,000 apiece. That was the easy part.

The second round of distributions go to what is called the trust administration class in varying amounts based on a formula that looks at 10 years of the highest earnings in the royalty accounts held by the government, which are called Individual Indian Money trust accounts.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
New and Developing
Headlines

Sports
Opinion

Features

Must Read

Big 12 Media Days
Video
Gaza Residents Mourn Dead Amid Airstrikes Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground Ohio State Marching Band Chief Fired After Probe Raw: Big Rig Stuck in Illinois Swamp Cumberbatch Brings 'Penguins' to Comic-Con Raw: Air Algerie Crash Site in Mali Power to Be Restored After Wash. Wildfire Crashed Air Algerie Plane Found in Mali Israel Mulls Ceasefire Amid Gaza Offensive In Case of Fire, Oxygen Masks for Pets Mobile App Gives Tour of Battle of Atlanta Sites Anti-violence Advocate Killed, but Not Silenced. Dempsey: Putin May Light Fire and Lose Control Arizona Prison Chief: Execution Wasn't Botched Calif. Police Investigate Peacock Shooting Death Raw: Protesters, Soldiers Clash in West Bank Police: Doctor Who Shot Gunman 'Saved Lives' 'Modern Family' Star on Gay Athletes Coming Out MN Twins Debut Beer Vending Machine DA: Pa. Doctor Fired Back at Hospital Gunman
Business

Photos


Facebook