An appeals court this week upheld a $3.4 billion class action lawsuit settlement concerning the mismanagement of government trust funds for hundreds of thousands of Native Americans, ruling that it was fair, reasonable and adequate.
The settlement resolves a 1996 class action lawsuit, Cobell v. Salazar, claiming the U.S. Department of the Interior mismanaged funds held in trust on behalf of Native Americans.
The Cobell v. Salazar class action lawsuit was originally settled in December 2009 and later approved by Congress in November 2010. It was granted final approval a year ago, but was held up by an objection to the settlement by a Class Member.
The Class Member argued the Indian Trust settlement was unfair, citing a conflict among Class Members that violated constitutional due process rights, and saying Class Members did not benefit equally.
The appeals court disagreed, ruling there was no record in the case confirming the existence of a conflict among the Class Members or a violation of due process of rights.
The Indian Trust class action settlement will allow an estimated 500,000 Native Americans who had Individual Indian Money accounts, an interest in trust, or restricted land managed by the Interior Department to receive payments of at least $1,000 each. Parts of the American Indian class action settlement will go toward buying interest in trust lands and a scholarship fund.
If no requests for rehearing are filed in the allotted time period, or if the requests for rehearing are denied, then the Settlement’s Final Approval will become effective and the Settlement Administrator will begin preparing payments for distribution to Class Members.
More information about the Native American Indian Trust Class Action Lawsuit Settlement can be found at www.IndianTrust.com.
The case is Cobell v. Salazar, Case No. 1:96-cv-01285, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia.
UPDATE 1: Cobell v. Salazar Indian Trust Settlement checks have been mailed! Thousands more Class Members are still eligible to file claims, but must do so by March 1, 2013.
UPDATE 2: More than 30,000 Class Members of the Cobell v. Salazar Indian trust class action settlement are still awaiting payments. Class Counsel explains why.
UPDATE 3: According to the Settlement Administrator, the final round of payments from the Indian Trust settlement could be made in early Fall 2014.
UPDATE 4: A federal judge approved the distribution of payments to more than 15,000 Class Members whose records were missing from the Department of Interior. The first checks were mailed Sept. 15, 2014. Learn more.
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