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Cobell Settlement Payments Pending – Again

May 29, 2012
Colson Hicks Eidson

Payouts in the largest class action lawsuit settlement in the history of the United States government were set to begin on October 2011. However, according to a report at settlement payments in the Cobell v. Salazar class action lawsuit may not begin for yet another 12 to 18 months. The lawsuit is 15-years-old and stems from allegations that the Interior Department mismanaged Native American trust royalties.
A Native American class member, Kimberly Craven, filed an appeal alleging that the settlement unevenly distributes the money between mishandled and non-mishandled accounts. Her attorney said his client is not trying to hold-up the settlement payments, which total $3.4 billion. A lawyer representing the class said the appeal would delay the payouts that class members hoped to receive by Christmas.
With each plaintiff set to receive anywhere from $500.00 to $1 million per piece, a spokesperson for the class said the majority of class members support the settlement. In a 15-year-old class action lawsuit, critics of the appeal say it does not take into account the complexities and work it took to get this far.
There is Internet support for the appeal, however. Supporters say Craven notified the defendant of her appeal and filed it 10 days before the deadline. She also suggested shortening the briefing schedule to avoid a lengthy delay.