WASHINGTON, DC (December 12, 2012) — Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton announced that the federal judge overseeing the historic Cobell settlement authorized $1,000 payments to begin for approximately 325,000 Native Americans.
“With this authorization from U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan, we are working non-stop to get this first round of checks to as many class members as possible before Christmas,” said Keith Harper of the Kilpatrick Townsend law firm representing the plaintiffs.
Lead by the late Elouise Cobell, several Native Americans filed a class action lawsuit in 1996 against the government for mismanaging their individual trust lands and monies. After years of intensive litigation, a $3.4 billion settlement was reached in 2009, approved by Congress in 2010, and held to be fair by Judge Hogan in 2011. All of the appeals were dismissed or withdrawn by late November and the government has funded the settlement.
Following these first payments, a further payment will be made in 2013 after a process is completed to identify the Native Americans entitled to receive that second payment. That process, according to Judge Hogan’s order, is scheduled to run through July 2013 and payments will then be issued once all the recipients can be determined.
It is estimated that the minimum amounts of the second payments will be approximately $800, but some people will receive more depending on the monies recorded by the government as being generated by their trust assets.
Judge Hogan also approved a program to provide further notice about the process for identifying potential members of the class to receive the second payments though many people in that class will not need to do anything to receive the second payment.
More information on the settlement can be found at the Claims Administrator’s website:http://cobellsettlement.com/.